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Americans for Financial Reform - News Release: Report Exposes How Real Estate Industry Maintains Housing Crisis

CALIFORNIA - An intricate network of housing industry groups, often backed by corporate landlords, are actively blocking solutions that would alleviate the worst aspects of the current housing crisis and improve affordability, according to a new report.

The report, from Capital Strategies for the Common Good, the Private Equity Stakeholder Project, Bargaining for the Common Good, and Americans for Financial Reform Education Fund, sheds light on the money behind the political influence that has distorted the politics of housing in favor of wealthy interests, partly in response to a recent surge in tenant organizing at local, state, and federal levels that has begun to challenge the status quo.

“Corporate landlords do not merely profit off of the housing crisis to the tune of billions of dollars,” said Dustin Duong, research associate at Americans for Financial Reform Education Fund. “They then plow that money into lobbying efforts that stall or bury efforts to relieve the crisis. It is a vicious circle of money, politics, and industry influence.”

“Californians consistently identify high housing costs and homelessness as two of the top issues they want to see lawmakers address,” said Christina Livingston, Executive Director of the Alliance of Californians For Community Empowerment (ACCE). “However, to date, state and local governments have failed to pass policies or make investments commensurate with the scale of the problem. Why? One of the major reasons is the powerful and deep-pocketed corporate real estate lobby led by the California Apartment Association (CAA). While the CAA often claims to represent mom-and-pop landlords, the CAA’s agenda primarily serves their Wall Street corporate landlord leadership. The business model of these mega-corporate landlords is predicated on increasing profits at all costs by raising rents, neglecting maintenance, and evicting frequently – to the detriment of our cities, our communities, and our families.”

NBC Bay Area - Richmond city leaders vote to put Chevron refinery business tax on ballot

RICHMOND, California - Richmond city leaders late Tuesday voted unanimously in favor of a ballot measure that will ask voters whether or not Chevron should pay an additional tax on its refinery operations.

The City Council voted 7-0 for the proposed new oil refining business tax measure targeting Chevron, one of the world's largest oil companies. The measure is slated for the November ballot.

The mayor and vice mayor of Richmond have said the new tax would raise millions of dollars annually for the city.

Chevron, one of the world's largest oil companies, could end paying much more to do business in the East Bay, as Richmond city leaders Tuesday are set to vote on a new tax on the company's refinery. Bob Redell reports.
City officials and environmental groups have accused the Chevron refinery of harming the local environment and the residents who live nearby.

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District estimates that each year, between five and 11 people die prematurely in Richmond because of emissions from the refinery.

Hola News - Abogan por inquilinos de vecindarios de casas móviles

CHARLOTTE, Carolina del Norte - Activistas de varias organizaciones nacionales llegaron de varios estados para realizar un tour por vecindarios de Charlotte para darle voz a su campaña “House Every One”, y apoyar a la organización local Action NC en su defensa por los derechos de los inquilinos de un complejo de casas móviles y de una familia latina que enfrenta un desalojo.

Una de las manifestaciones, que se realizó el pasado 10 de junio, se llevó a cabo en el complejo de casas móviles, Charlotte Hills Mobile Homes, donde la mayoría de los inquilinos son latinos.

“Tener un techo es un derecho”, fue una de las arengas que corearon los manifestantes en apoyo a los inquilinos.

San Francisco Chronicle - A Bay Area man asked his landlord to remove mold. Instead he got an eviction lawsuit and his son got asthma

SAN PABLO, California - The trouble began for Mauricio Badillo around July 2022, when the 43-year-old married father of three asked his landlord to address the mold in the home he rents in San Pablo.

Badillo, a painter, tried to wash it off his walls but couldn’t. It emitted a rotten odor and crept into the furniture. His landlord sent an inspector who Badillo said confirmed his suspicions and blamed the 80-year-old home’s lack of insulation.

Badillo said the landlord told him he didn’t have the money for repairs and asked for time to resolve the situation. Concerned the mold had caused his youngest son’s asthma but lacking housing alternatives, Badillo agreed.

In October 2023, he received a letter from a property management company attempting to terminate his tenancy. It wasn’t an eviction lawsuit. That arrived last month.

“I thought that everything was going to be OK,” Badillo said in Spanish through an interpreter. “However, instead, now he is trying to evict me.”

La Opinion - Inquilinos en LA denuncian acoso y amenazas de desalojo

LOS ANGELES, California - Familias que habitan en el edificio de apartamentos ubicado en el 3750 de la Avenida Glendon, en el distrito 5 de Los Ángeles denunciaron que los administradores de la compañía Maxim Management Realty Group, LLC, nueva propietaria del inmueble los han estado hostigando desde hace seis meses, con el presunto objetivo de efectuar arreglos para desalojarlos definitivamente.

A ritmo de tambores y megáfonos. los frustrados residentes gritaron: “¡A dondequiera que vayamos, la gente quiere saber quiénes somos! ¡Así se lo contamos: ¡Somos los vecinos poderosos! ¡Luchando por la justicia y contra los desalojos!”

El 17 de abril, varias familias del el 3750 en la Avenida Glendon recibieron una noticia de desalojo en un periodo de 60 días.

Cartas de la firma de abogados Dennis P. Block y Asociados, de Burbank, notifican que el dueño del edificio deseaba terminar sus contratos de mes a mes y les informa que tienen derecho a tarifas de reubicación por $24,650.

The Hawaii Filipino Chronicle - Quest For 1st Filam Elected Member Of LA City Council Gains Momentum

LOS ANGELES, California - As Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month was celebrated last May, Ysabel Jurado’s campaign for Los Angeles City Council District 14 (CD-14) received a week-long celebration highlighting endorsements from prominent AAPI community leaders and elected officials.

During AAPI month, her campaign staff announced a series of AAPI Community Leaders and Elected Official Endorsements for her in honor of AAPI Heritage Month, with Jurado being a recognized AAPI community leader.

They acknowledged her presence in the community due to her active involvement in issues affecting her constituents.

Kicking off the commemorative week was the endorsement from the Asian Democrats of Los Angeles County (ADLAC), a steadfast advocate for AAPI representation and empowerment in the political landscape.

The ADLAC’s endorsement reaffirms the growing momentum behind Jurado’s candidacy and underscores the pivotal role of AAPI voices in shaping the future of Los Angeles.

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.

LAist - A Less-Visible Side Of The Latino Homelessness Crisis

LOS ANGELES, CA - Trouble at the small apartment on Vernon Avenue had been brewing for months by the time things came to a head this spring.

For Kevin Diaz Lopez, his housing problems began around October. That’s when his brother and two nephews moved out from the one-bedroom South Los Angeles apartment they all shared, moving to be closer to work in the Long Beach area.

That left Diaz, who works in a packing warehouse, stuck with $1,600 monthly in rent. By January, he was falling behind.

No rental agreement
Diaz says he promised the manager he’d pay within a few days. But he says when he came home one day, he’d been locked out. Some of his things were sitting outside. A neighbor called police, along with a tenant rights group, and Diaz was allowed back in.

But the message he got from the manager was this: “That I was not on the (rental) contract,” Diaz said in Spanish, “and I could not be here.”

CBS News - Locals unhappy with planned closure of Antioch Amtrak station

ANTIOCH, California - Some people in Antioch are worried about losing an important transit option and are fighting back against a plan to close the Antioch-Pittsburg Amtrak station.

"The last time it came it was like here and gone," said April Hill, carrying her friends suitcase to the Antioch train platform.

Hill has come by the Amtrak station to send a visiting friend back home towards the San Joaquin Valley. She knows it probably won't be long before Antioch says farewell to its downtown train station.

The plan is to open another stop to the east in downtown Oakley, and when that is open the Antioch stop will be decommissioned. Hill says it has already been scaled back to the bare minimum.

"Yeah, they have gotten rid of the benches and ticketing kiosk," Hill explained. " I mean it wasn't, like, really nice before, but now it's even emptier."

Local News Matters- ‘We’ll show out’: Community advocates rally against closure of Antioch Amtrak station

ANTIOCH, California - Community advocates have rallied at the Antioch Amtrak train station calling for officials to reverse their decision to close it.

The San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority, the body that oversees intercity passenger rail service, voted in March 2023 to close the train station amid concerns of vandalism, safety issues, fare evasion and unhoused individuals using the area for shelter. When the new station in Oakley opens in August 2025, the Antioch station is simultaneously set to close.

S.L. Floyd, housing board commissioner for the city of Pittsburg, showed his support during the rally, noting that many of his city’s residents also depend on Amtrak, which connects Antioch to not only workplace destinations in the west but also locations throughout the nation.

“This is a much-needed measure because we’re encouraging people to get out of their cars to take public transportation,” Floyd said. “Even though they’re building a new station in Oakley, we still need the resources and the public support here because many people cannot afford a personal automobile, so they really lean on public transportation.”

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.