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The Oaklandside - East Oakland renters sue landlord after fire left them without electricity

OAKLAND, Calif. - Tenants who spent weeks without electricity or hot water after a fire damaged their East Oakland apartment building are now suing their landlord and property manager.

While electricity has mostly been restored since the Jan. 5 basement blaze in the San Antonio neighborhood property, four units are still being powered by a loud generator, and renters say they incurred large expenses during the weeks when their fridges and lights weren’t working.

“All families deserve to have dignity, health, and safety in their homes,” said Jackie Zaneri, managing attorney with Movement Legal, speaking outside of the 26th Avenue building at a press conference Wednesday.

The lawsuit alleges landlords Victor and Amy Louie and the Oakland-based management company Selborne Properties violated several city and state tenant laws on habitability and relocation assistance. It describes numerous concerns with conditions in the building, both resulting from the fire and preexisting, including mold, broken fixtures, and cockroaches.

East Bay Times - Train riders rally against closure of Amtrak in Antioch

ANTIOCH, CA - Community members this week had a few choice words for Amtrak, which they chanted again and again: “Don’t drop our stop! Don’t drop our stop!”

With Antioch’s downtown train platform slated to close next year in favor of an Oakley stop, a group of residents and activists on Wednesday afternoon urged leaders to do whatever it takes to keep it open.

“This is really important to us because our community relies on this transportation to get to and from everywhere,” Tachina Garrett, Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment Action chair, told the dozens gathered near the platform. “This is not a low-income problem. This is a problem for the community; this train services veterans, senior citizens, students, youth and working families.”

Sacramento Bee - Parents, teachers rally to save popular RT program from Sacramento budget cuts. Is city listening?

SACRAMENTO, CA - They showed up at City Hall from across Sacramento. Ilene Toney, down from south Natomas. April Ybarra, whose daughters attend Hiram Johnson High School; and parent-teacher Vanessa Cudabac, who made the trip from New Technology High School, both from south Sacramento.

Inside, Sacramento City Council leaders were about to discuss the fate of RydeFreeRT — the pioneering mass transit program that ferries thousands of Sacramento kids to schools, work, venues and activities across the city each year for free — and whether it would survive potential budget cuts to help right the city’s $66 million deficit. The annual investment is funded by a city Measure U tax increase approved in 2018.

The city’s $1 million contribution to the program, credited with substantially boosting youth ridership and school attendance among the city’s Black and brown students, would end as part of a slate of proposed budget cuts.

San Diego Union Tribune - Opinion: Housing is a privilege in California with sky-high costs. This needs to change, now.

SAN DIEGO, CA - I never thought that having a child would cause me to become homeless. I was pregnant and working full-time at a minimum-wage job when my daughter was born. My job refused me paid parental leave, and as a single parent without the income to afford costly child care, I was forced to stay home to care for my infant child. This cost me my income and my ability to pay rent.

Within months, my landlord threatened to call the sheriff to evict me. My daughters and I became homeless. We didn’t even own a car to sleep in. For months, I stayed with friends, until we found an emergency women’s shelter.

When the women’s shelter told us after a year that we needed to leave to make room for other families, I was pushed back into the nightmare of trying to find housing we could afford. Between a security deposit and first and last month’s rent, I was being asked to come up with nearly $10,000 to find a home. Working minimum wage as a single parent doesn’t afford me the ability to have that kind of savings.

By a miracle, we finally found an apartment. It was a stretch financially, but for the last seven years, my daughters and I have been stable. Finally — no more shelters. No more couch surfing.

But in 2021, things changed.

The Sacramento Bee - Gavin Newsom wants California cities to plan housing for homeless

SACRAMENTO, CA - California Gov. Gavin Newsom is sponsoring a bill that would push cities to take homeless residents into account when crafting their housing goals.

But would this legislation actually result in more affordable housing? There are concerns the state is not providing enough money to get it built.

Cities have struggled to meet their state-mandated goalposts when it comes to permitting low-income units. Some advocates say planning is an empty promise without more money to build the housing.

“Gov. Newsom continues to ignore the elephant in the room — that local jurisdictions cannot meet their housing goals at lower income levels without significant additional public funding,” said Amy Schur of Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment in a statement.

East Bay Times - Proposed East Bay rental rules would stabilize rents, protect tenants

PITTSBURG, CA - Pittsburg renters fed up with high rents and the lack of tenant protections have moved a step closer to getting new rules on this November’s ballot.

Backed by the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, housing advocates on Wednesday turned in the more than 4,000 signatures needed to bring rent stabilization, just cause evictions and tenant protection rules before voters. Election officials have 30 days to verify the signatures.

“We did it,” Richmond City Councilman and ACCE member Melvin Willis told the small group gathered in front of City Hall. “Now, with all these signatures, we are going to be able to get this on the ballot and folks who didn’t have rental protections, eviction protections before ….they have a chance to actually assert the right not to be taken advantage of by people who are just looking at their housing as another price up in the stock market.”

ABC 10 - Sacramento leaders debate program funding cuts amid budget shortfall

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Sacramento leaders are debating where the city will need to make cuts to close a $66 million budget deficit.

City Manager Howard Chan's $1.6 billion budget avoids city worker layoffs, but it also includes a variety of fee hikes and service cuts to programs.

On Monday, community members weighed in during the public comment session of the city council meeting.

"I see a lot of folks here who really care about the city, and they care about their community," said Judy Hirigoyen, who was one of several commenters who decided to speak out about the city's proposed $87,000 cut to its funding to the SMUD Museum of Science and Curiosity.

"This particular museum has no alternative in the area, and you just can't go by without seeing buses that have brought children for field trips," she said.

Others came to ask the council to reconsider cutting its $1 million contribution to the SacRT Ryde Free Program to help kids get to and from school using public transit.

"Why would you take that away from people that are part of the disadvantaged populations?" asked Suzanne Ansell, with the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment organization.

Yahoo! News - 12-year-old boy struck and killed walking home from school in South Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES, CA - A family is devastated after a 12-year-old boy was struck and killed while walking home from school in South Los Angeles.

Derrick Serrano, 12, was walking home when he crossed the street near Vernon and Wadsworth Avenues at around 3 p.m. on April 18.

That’s when a driver struck and killed the boy. His mother, Claudia Gramajo, believes his death could’ve been prevented if proper safety measures had been put in place.

“Derrick had a big heart,” Gramajo said tearfully. “The biggest heart you’ve ever known. He left home at 7:40 a.m. in the morning and he never came back.”

KTLA 5 - 12-year-old boy struck and killed walking home from school in South Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES, CA - A family continues grieving after a 12-year-old boy was struck and killed while crossing the street in South Los Angeles.

On April 18, Derrick Serrano, 12, was walking home from school when he decided to cross the street near Vernon and Wadsworth Avenues at around 3 p.m. That’s when a driver struck and killed the boy. His mother, Claudia Gramajo, believes the deadly crash could’ve been prevented if proper safety measures were put in place.

Serrano was a 6th grader at Carver Middle School located in the South Park neighborhood of Los Angeles. He takes a short walk back home, but one that navigates heavily congested roads and intersections and is noticeably devoid of crosswalks, signs or safety signals to protect students. KTLA's John Fenoglio reports on May 4, 2024.

CalMatters - California needs constitutional change if it wants to get serious about homelessness

I’m fortunate I wasn’t sexually assaulted while living on the streets of Los Angeles County. Many unhoused women are, and some repeatedly – though being attacked three times helped me qualify for a shelter bed.

On any given night in Los Angeles County, more than 22,300 women are homeless. When I was unhoused from 2020-2023, there were only eight women’s shelters in the county, none of which were near me. All of them were at capacity.

With an underfunded homeless services sector and a growing number of Californians being pushed into homelessness, rationing help for only those deemed most vulnerable has become standard practice. Without a child, mental illness or addiction issues, it’s difficult to qualify for needed assistance and services.

Everyone that’s unhoused needs help but not everyone that’s unhoused qualifies for help.

KQED - California Homeowners Say Oakland Lender Scammed Them Out of $3M in Home Improvements

OAKLAND, CA - Dozens of California homeowners allege an Oakland-based lending company conspired with contractors to issue fraudulent loans for home improvement projects that were never completed.

Nearly 160 complaints have been filed against the financial lending platform, Solar Mosaic, since 2019, according to data from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. And on Monday, a group of nearly 100 people drove from Los Angeles to protest outside Solar Mosaic’s headquarters in downtown Oakland, demanding to meet with the company and seek loan forgiveness and repayments.

Julie Robles was among Monday’s demonstrators. The Los Angeles homeowner said Viridi Construction, a construction company working to build an accessory dwelling unit, or in-law apartment, on her property requested $75,000 from Solar Mosaic, which the lender allegedly granted without any prior authorization from her.

“I’m already retired, so if something happened, I wouldn’t be able to recover the money,” said Robles, who is trying to get out of a $75,000 loan, plus nearly $3,000 in interest and fees. “I trusted them.”

The Oaklandside - California homeowners took out hefty loans. They say contractors fled with the money

OAKLAND, CA - Dozens of Los Angeles residents tumbled out of buses in downtown Oakland on Monday afternoon. Clad in yellow shirts, some wore drums around their necks and others had signs taped to their chests with large dollar amounts—$50,000, $86,000.

They’d driven up from Southern California to protest at the Oakland headquarters of a controversial solar and home-improvement lender. The homeowners and their family members, over 100 people total, are accusing the lender, Solar Mosaic, of teaming up with contractors to take advantage of them.

The protesters allege that Mosaic is issuing payments directly to these companies for work left partially completed or never even started. The homeowners end up in debt with their home in shambles. They’ve organized with the Los Angeles “Home Defenders” chapter of ACCE, a statewide housing advocacy group that’s active in Oakland as well.

Marching inside 601 12th St., a new downtown highrise, the protesters formed a long line inside the lobby. Solar Mosaic has an office inside the building, though its executives appear to be based in Glendale.

The protesters snaked around the room. They chanted, yelled, shook noisemakers, and banged drums. Security guards and front desk staff glanced at each other and got on the phone. They blocked off entry to the rest of the building, but ultimately allowed the protest to continue for over an hour.

“The bank wants to take our house, the house I grew up in,” yelled a young woman into a microphone. “That’s not fair, right?”

“No!” shouted the crowd.

KGET News - Protesters march demanding CA lawmakers invest in more affordable housing

SACRAMENTO, CA - Protesters march demanding CA lawmakers invest in more affordable housing.

People's World - May Day in L.A.: A solidarity march through Hollywood

LOS ANGELES, CA - As historic labor struggles rage on, attacks on immigrant rights increase, housing prices skyrocket, and armed conflicts with unimaginable human loss continue, the Los Angeles May Day Coalition announces the 2024 May Day march theme: “Solidarity is Power: The People United.” This year’s May Day demonstration features a new march route and location.

On International Workers’ Day, May 1, 2024, thousands of immigrants, workers, students, educators, parents, activists, and people of faith will unite in solidarity to take over the streets of Hollywood—the entertainment capital of the world and the economic epicenter of Los Angeles—in a powerful demonstration for better wages, housing for all, a path to citizenship, the right to strike, and a call for a ceasefire in war-torn areas and an end to all wars.

The Real Deal - Tenant advocates in San Pablo want rent control on November ballot

SAN PABLO, California - Tenant advocates are ready to put a rent control measure on the November ballot in San Pablo, while renter and landlord groups across the Bay Area have launched dueling campaigns.

Tenant groups led by the Los Angeles-based Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment have submitted to the East Bay city more than 1,500 signatures needed to bring a measure to cap rent increases and add renter protections before voters, the East Bay Times reported.

Officials will now work to verify the signatures.

In addition to San Pablo, tenant groups led by the alliance are coordinating signature gathering campaigns for rent control measures in Redwood City, Pittsburg and Larkspur, according to the Times.

The proposed ballot measures in each city would cap yearly rent increases to 60 percent of the inflation rate and no more than 3 percent or 5 percent in total, depending on the city. They would also beef up enforcement of current renter protections and add rules against tenant harassment.

CBS News Bay Area - Advocates seeking rent control in San Pablo submit signatures for ballot measure

SAN PABLO, California - Over 1,600 signatures were submitted to the San Pablo city clerk by activists Tuesday for a renter protection legislation package to go on the November ballot.

The Contra Costa County registrar of voters has 30 days to approve at least 1,278 valid signatures before it goes to voters.

If it goes on the ballot and is approved in the election, the package would establish a rent program under the city manager's office, where tenants can file petitions if the landlord fails to make repairs or takes away housing service and landlords can file a petition if they are not receiving a reasonable return on their investment. It also includes ordinances for rent stabilization, tenant anti-harassment and just-cause evictions.

"There is no state law that makes these requirements," said Leah Simon-Weisberg, a UC Law San Francisco professor who directs the legal nonprofit California Center for Movement Legal Services that wrote the ballot initiative for San Pablo.

East Bay Times - Tenant advocates in this Bay Area city are close to putting rent control on the ballot

SAN PABLO, California - Tenant advocates in San Pablo are one step closer to getting rent control on the ballot this November.

On Tuesday, advocates submitted to the city more than 1,500 signatures needed to bring a measure to cap rent increases and add renter protections before voters. Officials will now seek to verify the signatures.

In recent months, renter and landlord groups across the Bay Area have launched similar ballot-box campaigns, including competing measures to either expand or roll back tenant protections in Berkeley. In Concord, a landlord-backed effort was underway to repeal a newly approved rent control law but didn’t have the signatures.

In addition to San Pablo, tenant groups led by the influential Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment are also coordinating signature gathering pushes in Redwood City, Pittsburg and Larkspur.

USC Annenberg Media - Tenant rights protest accuses USC of displacing local communities in upcoming expansion projects

LOS ANGELES, California - Tenant rights organizations gathered Wednesday afternoon on USC’s campus to express their outrage with the university’s building plans for upcoming expansion projects. The protest started at the S Vermont Ave and Downey Way intersection and ended at Doheny Memorial Library.

In attendance were representatives from the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Eastside LEADS, Inner City Struggle, Legacy LA and ACCE Action.

The protestors wrote and posted an eviction notice to USC President Carol Folt. They delivered it to Rene Pak instead, chief of staff in Folt’s office. The eviction notice stated: “YOU ARE HEREBY NOTIFIED that effective THIRTY (30) DAYS from the date of service on you of this notice; the tenancy of the premises known as the USC Health Science Campus and South L.A. Campus is terminated, at which time you are required to vacate and surrender possession of the premises.”

The notice demands fair union contracts for shuttle bus drivers and maintenance workers, various community benefit agreements, support of legacy businesses and defunding USC’s Department of Public Safety (DPS).

USC Annenberg Media - Rising rent in South Central sparks protest at USC

LOS ANGELES, California - Protestors mobilized at Viterbi today and marched throughout campus to Bovard Auditorium. They called attention to the increasing presence of wealthy investors building and buying homes at the expense of local residence.

The Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, or ACCE, led the protest. Sergio Vargas is the co-director of ACCE.

Sergio Vargas: They’re building this three, four story buildings where they’re charging $1,000 per bed, which is unfair for the students. It’s unfair for the community. And it’s created a lot of chaos for our people, our folks are being taken out of their communities so they can make space for students who are going to come here are going to be here for maybe three months, six months, a year, and they’re going to be gone. They truly do not care about this area and the historic community that has been here for years.

The Contra Costa Pulse - Contra Costa Expands Healthcare for Undocumented Residents

CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, California - The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved removing immigration requirements and raised income eligibility limitations for the county’s basic healthcare program.

The amended policy aims to assist 10,500 uninsured people by providing access to general care, mental health, specialist medical care, and emergency and inpatient treatments within the county’s healthcare network and community clinics.

Supervisor John Gioia described the healthcare expansion as a corrective measure for a “mistake.” During the 2009 recession, the county added legal status as a requirement to qualify for its public healthcare. This measure would rescind that requirement.

“We are creating equity by removing the barrier we placed in 2009 on undocumented [people] when they were kicked off the program,” said Gioia during the board meeting.

Impulso Newspaper - Dejan el desamparo gracias a la Medida ULA conocida como impuesto de las mansiones

LOS ANGELES, California - Al grito de “viviendas asequibles, ahora” y con conmovedores testimonios de desamparadas que afortunadamente ya pudieron dejar las calles, líderes sindicales, trabajadores, funcionarios de la ciudad de Los Ángeles celebraron el primer aniversario de la entrada en vigor de la Medida ULA, que ha permitido hasta la fecha la recaudación de 215 millones de dólares que están siendo utilizados para la construcción de viviendas accesibles y para el programa de ayuda a los inquilinos con problemas para pagar la renta.

En lo anterior coincidieron el director de United to House LA, Joe Donlin, los concejales Hugo Soto Martínez y Bob Blumenfield, la presidenta del Comité de Supervisión Ciudadana de la ULA, Michelle Espinosa Coulter, la presidenta del Sindicato de Profesores de Los Ángeles, Gloria Martínez, durante el acto de celebración que se realizó el pasado jueves, 4 de Abril en Santa Mónica/Vermont Metro Plaza ubicado a un lado del edificio de apartamentos asequibles de 187 unidades que se está construyendo con fondos obtenidos a través de la Medida ULA.

Jacobin - Public Housing Is Social Housing

Last month, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Bernie Sanders reintroduced the Green New Deal for Public Housing Act, which would enable the spending of a much-needed $230 billion to weatherize, electrify, and repair all public housing.

For over fifty years now, the federal government has grossly neglected and slashed the budget of our nation’s public housing stock. Government programs have actively privatized and demolished public housing. Policymakers, through the “war on drugs,” have subjected public housing residents to racist criminalization and overpolicing.

Public housing remains a critical source of deeply affordable housing for the lowest-income families. Yet, in the midst of growing houselessness, we lose fifteen thousand of these precious homes every year to decay and lack of repair. Instead of allocating direct public funding for affordable housing, we rely on the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Program (LIHTC), a scheme offering tax breaks to Wall Street investors, which diverts public money toward their profit-skimming. Meanwhile, policymakers’ decisions to gut our public housing directly fueled the explosion of mass homelessness we’ve seen across the United States since the 1980s.

“Blackstone and corporate landlords like them are worsening the housing crisis, as they seek to extract maximum profits for their investors. We need to stop allowing these big corporate landlords to buy up our neighborhoods,” says Amy Schur, campaign director of Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment. “Instead, we should publicly fund housing that is off the private, speculative market.”

CalMatters - Estos residentes de California acaban de recibir protección contra grandes aumentos de alquileres

NEWPORT BEACH, California - Muchos propietarios que ofrecen viviendas nuevas para personas de bajos ingresos en California no podrán aumentar el alquiler de sus inquilinos en más del 10% anual, según una regla impuesta esta semana por un comité estatal.

El límite, aprobado el miércoles por el Comité de Asignación de Créditos Fiscales de California, afecta a todos los desarrollos futuros construidos con la ayuda de Créditos Fiscales para Viviendas de Bajos Ingresos. California otorga créditos federales y estatales para construir alrededor de 20,000 nuevas unidades al año; El programa es la principal fuente de financiación gubernamental para que los promotores privados construyan viviendas asequibles. 

La regla es similar a una ley estatal de 2019 para otros inquilinos: restringe los aumentos anuales al 5% más la inflación o al 10%, lo que sea menor.

CalMatters - These Californians just got protection from big rent hikes

NEWPORT BEACH, California - Many landlords providing new low-income housing in California won’t be able to increase the rent on their tenants by more than 10% per year, under a rule imposed this week by a state committee.

The cap, passed Wednesday by the California Tax Credit Allocation Committee, affects all future developments built with the help of Low Income Housing Tax Credits. California awards the federal and state credits to build about 20,000 new units a year; the program is the primary government funding source for private developers to build affordable housing. 

The rule is similar to a 2019 state law for other tenants — restricting annual increases to either 5% plus inflation, or 10%, whichever is lower.