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Tens of thousands still waiting as California COVID rent relief program runs low on cash

In March 2021, the Los Angeles film industry was just beginning to roar back to life after a prolonged COVID-induced slump, but Michael Addis, a freelance filmmaker, was still deep in the hole. For more than a year he’d been racking up IOUs to his landlord and the tab stood at $43,792.

So Addis turned to an emergency state program designed to help people like him pay down rental debt accumulated during the pandemic. 

Later, in the summer of 2021, Gov. Gavin Newsom himself had touted the program, Housing Is Key, as the largest of its kind in the nation. “We’re laser-focused on getting this assistance out the door as quickly as possible,” he said at the time.

Addis heard back 20 months after he applied.  

On June 5, 2023 — his 61st birthday — he received an email, which he shared with CalMatters, notifying him that a payment had been approved in full. 

But by then it was too late.

Richmond Asks Property Not to Raise Seniors’ Rent

RICHMOND, CA - After residents of an affordable apartment community for seniors asked for help reducing a proposed rent increase, the Richmond City Council unanimously voted to send a letter asking the owners to not implement the increase.

Residents in the community of Heritage Park at Hilltop say the proposed 5% rent increase would put them at risk of being unable to afford other necessities and homelessness.

“We want the senior population at Heritage Park to be assured that their concerns are being taken seriously,” the letter, signed by Mayor Eduardo Martinez, says, “and that steps will be taken to not price out seniors who currently reside at Heritage Park.”

The rent increase, if it should go forward, would take effect Dec. 1.

Inquilinos denuncian vivir en malas condiciones

LOS ANGELES, CA - Casi 20 personas se reunieron en los apartamentos Dorset Village y marcharon por todo el complejo de apartamentos y durante un descanso algunos residentes compartieron historias sobre sus difíciles condiciones de vida en una lluviosa tarde el miércoles en el vecindario de Hyde Park en Los Ángeles.

Julema Howard ha alquilado en su apartamento desde 2008 y dice que su alfombra no ha sido reemplazada a pesar de que está desgastada hasta el punto en que las puntadas quedan expuestas.

“Es realmente difícil explicar cómo vivimos aquí. Me siento como si estuviera viviendo en una celda de prisión”, dijo Howard mientras lágrimas caían por su rostro.

LA City Council may limit rent hikes on rent-controlled units

(Paywalled) LOS ANGELES, CA — The City Council is expected to vote Tuesday on a proposal meant to limit anticipated rent increases for properties that are subject to the city’s rent-control law.

The proposal was previously delayed during last week’s council meeting by Councilman Hugo Soto-Martinez, who wanted more time for his colleagues to consider the idea. The proposal was prompted by the pending Jan. 31, 2024, end of a pandemic-era rent freeze placed on rent-stabilized units.

LA City Council to vote on rent control amendment amid looming rent freeze expiration

LOS ANGELES, CA - The Los Angeles City Council is expected to vote on Tuesday on a proposal meant to limit anticipated rent increases for properties that are subject to the city's rent-control law.

The proposal was previously delayed during last week's council meeting by Councilman Hugo Soto-Martinez, who wanted more time for his colleagues to consider the idea. The proposal was prompted by the pending Jan. 31, 2024, end of a pandemic-era rent freeze placed on rent-stabilized units.

 

LA City Council to vote on proposal for rent hikes on rent-controlled units

LOS ANGELES, CA — The City Council Tuesday is expected to vote on a proposal meant to limit anticipated rent increases for properties that are subject to the city's rent-control law.

The proposal was previously delayed during last week's council meeting by Councilman Hugo Soto-Martinez, who wanted more time for his colleagues to consider the idea. The proposal was prompted by the pending Jan. 31, 2024, end of a pandemic-era rent freeze placed on rent-stabilized units.

Senior-level APD officers signed off on now deemed 'excessive' use of force, report says

ANTIOCH, Calif. (KGO) -- Newly obtained police reports document use of force incidents by Antioch Police, in which senior-level officers signed off on what a federal indictment later deemed to be "excessive."

"You shouldn't feel like the police are a gang. I mean, we are supposed to be afraid of street gangs, but are afraid of the police. It makes no sense," said Nicole Arrington, a community organizer with the Alliance of Californians for Community Engagement, or ACCE.

Antioch residents call for resignation of police chief, other supervisors

ANTIOCH, CA — Multiple community organizers are calling for the city’s acting police chief and the president of its police officers’ union to step down amid revelations that they and other police supervisors signed off on the use of force by police officers who are now charged with federal civil rights violations.

The latest demands for the Antioch Police Department to clean house follow a Bay Area News Group report that found acting police Chief Joseph Vigil, Sgt. Rick Hoffman — the president of the Antioch Police Officers Association — and others concluded time and again that the actions of the charged officers followed department guidelines and deserved no discipline. The FBI, in a criminal indictment of three officers, found that some of the uses of force violated departmental policies — as well as people’s civil rights.

What will ‘Cop Campus’ mean for the Bay Area?

SAN PABLO, CA - The city of San Pablo is forging ahead on a plan to build a $43 million headquarters and training facility for its police department of 59 officers as residents call for the city to address housing affordability.

Despite the massive scale of the project — costing almost as much as the city expects to bring in this fiscal year — it has drawn little public input, raising questions about the level of civic engagement in the lower-income, majority Latino city of 31,000 people.

San Pablo residents rally for rent control and better tenant protections

ANTIOCH, CA - As inflation last year reached its highest level in 40 years, raising consumer prices on food, gas and even used cars, renters in San Pablo say they’ve felt the squeeze because of a lack of rent control in the city.

This week, they asked the City Council to take up their cause. With hand-painted signs reading “Housing is a human right,” more than 30 people, including families, marched outside City Hall on Monday. Gathering shortly before the council meeting convened inside, they chanted: “La renta, la renta, está muy alta, La renta, la renta, está muy alta!” and “What do we want? Affordable rents. When do we want it? Now!”

California Just Passed the First State Social Housing Legislation in the US

CALIFORNIA - Earlier this month, California passed a bill requiring the state to produce a study and recommendations on expanding the state’s social housing sector. Organizers hope it will be the first step in providing de-commodified shelter on a large scale.

ACCE Sacramento’s Jovana Fajardo says grassroots organizing is crucial to solving the housing crisis

SACRAMENTO, CA - Jovana Fajardo helms the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) Action Sacramento division. The grassroots nonprofit is active on many fronts advocating for solutions to the housing crisis.

With chapters statewide, its members actively pursue policies and initiatives that advance economic, racial and social justice for underserved Californians. Fajardo began her political career in immigration reform. From there, she gravitated to affordable housing activism and is now the division’s lead organizer.

Solving Sacramento recently spoke with Fajardo to get her thoughts on the housing crisis and how she sees the role of grassroots community organizations as part of the solution. The interview was conducted by phone and email.

San Pablo Renters to Rally for City Council Approval of Rent Control

SAN PABLO, CA - The Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment Action on Saturday urged San Pablo renters affected by rising rents, and Contra Costa-ACCE members and representatives to make their voice heard at the San Pablo City Council this Monday.

The renters have previously called upon the San Pablo City Council to pass a Rent Control Ordinance, during the “March for Rent Control” rally on Sept. 30, bringing out more than 50 supporters. The march coincided with downtown Los Angeles’ “Wages Are Too Damn Low, Rents Are Too Damn High” mass protest, which brought out hundreds.

Here’s how Sacramento advocacy groups rally people to give public comments

SACRAMENTO, CA - When local Sacramento government officials hold public hearings over climate change plans, dozens of residents often show up and share their perspectives.

It isn’t a coincidence that many speakers start public comments by introducing themselves as members or volunteers with activist organizations.

Groups rally people to speak at meetings through a variety of strategies, from building relationships over time to making social media posts. But whether they ask volunteers to comment on environmental, housing or other issues, organizers say they have similar goals: to empower people to participate in local government, share personal testimonies with decision-makers and build movements.

Thorpe holds ceremony to sign, celebrate Antioch’s anti-tenant harassment ordinance

ANTIOCH, CA - Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe held a ceremony and press conference on Thursday, Oct. 5, 2023, to sign and celebrate the passing of the City’s anti-tenant harassment and retaliation ordinance.

He was joined by representatives of the organizations which lobbied the council to approve the ordinance which finally passed 3-1 in August, including David Sharples of Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) Action and Rhea Laughlin of Rising Juntos, Rev. Millie Phillips of East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy (EBASE), and Judith Ortiz of Monument Impact, as well as. (See ORDINANCE NO. 2232-C-S PROHIBITING RETALIATION AGAINST AND HARASSMENT OF RESIDENTIAL TENANTS).

‘We are the community’: Tenant advocates and workers’ unions join forces

LOS ANGELES, CA - This past weekend, tenant advocates, labor unions, workers, and renters from across LA marched in downtown to demand good wages, better employee benefits, and housing security.

Yvonne Wheeler, president of the LA County Federation of Labor (LACFL), was at the march, emphasizing the issues of tenant evictions and increased homelessness. She believes the housing and labor movements are fighting the same battles.

“We're in a homeless pandemic, where working people are collecting paychecks … but they still can't afford to pay the rent, let alone live in the city where they work,” Wheeler says. “And so when we see the inequality … when we see that these tenants are living in deplorable conditions, we know that we have to ally with one another, and fight this fight together. Because we are the community – we're not separate and apart.”

Contra Costa Leaders Discuss Housing Issues

CONTRA COSTA, CA (TIMESTAMP 13:19) : More than 2,300 people are unhoused across Contra Contra county this is according to the latest county statistics, and today students at Los Medanos College in Pittsburg hosted a panel of East Contra Costa county leaders talking about what is being done to tackle issues around housing. 

Trabajadores protestan en calles de Los Ángeles por altas rentas y salarios estancados

LOS ANGELES, CA - Cientos de inquilinos, trabajadores, organizadores y miembros de la comunidad marcharon este sábado en el centro de Los Ángeles para protestar por los altos precios del alquiler de la vivienda y los salarios estancados que hacen casi imposible para muchos angelinos que les alcance el dinero.

“Las rentas están muy pinche caras, y los salarios están muy pinche bajos. Exigimos sueldos que alcancen y viviendas accesibles”, dijo María Guadalupe López, quien llegó a Los Ángeles a los cuatro años, es indocumentada y coordinadora de la Campaña Keep LA Housed.

Residentes Exigen a Ciudad Control de Alquiler

SAN PABLO, CA - Más de 50 residentes de la ciudad de San Pablo salieron a las calles para pedirle a los líderes de la ciudad que aprueben una ordenanza de estabilización de alquileres para que no tengan que enfrentarse a incrementos de rentas que llegan hasta un diez por ciento. 

San Pablo Renters Demand Rent Control

SAN PABLO, CA - Over 50 residents of San Pablo took to the streets to demand their local City Council pass Rent Control. 

March for Rent Control in Pittsburg

PITTSBURG, CA - Tenant activists in Pittsburg are pushing for the passage of a rent stabilization ordinance to help address the growing homelessness and housing. Devin Williams, the organizer of March for Rent Control and Nicole Arrington, who is a tenant in Pittsburg joined us on The Nine to discuss the issues.

The KPFA Evening News (Saturday) – September 16, 2023

PITTSBURG, CA - Pittsburg CA renter & ACCE member Christian Copeland was interviewed about her challenges as a renter in Pittsburg, about the Pittsburg "March for Rent Control" and why she is organizing for change. (TIMESTAMP 22:33)  

Sacramento County leaders agree they’re failing renters, then let anti-harassment ordinance die

SACRAMENTO, CA - The Sacramento County Board of Supervisors unanimously agreed that county government was failing to keep renters safe from harassment before four out of five of the elected officials declined to vote Tuesday on a proposed tenant anti-harassment ordinance, ensuring the measure would die.

The board decided to put on a future workshop about tenant protection resources in the county.

Supervisor Patrick Kennedy, who proposed the ordinance, said he was inspired to do so after visiting a large apartment complex and seeing the mostly immigrant tenants paying “upwards of $2,000 a month to live in squalor.” While he was at the complex meeting with his constituents, he said, “I witnessed, myself, harassment.”

Sacramento County Supervisors reject renter protections proposal

SACRAMENTO, CA - The Sacramento County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday declined to move forward with a proposal aiming to strengthen renters’ protections from harassment by landlords.

The decision came about a month after a similar tenant anti-harassment ordinance failed to get enough support from a Sacramento City Council committee.

If passed, the proposal would create county rules prohibiting landlords from threatening tenants with physical harm, refusing to accept rent payments, removing housing services to try to cause tenants to move and retaliating against renters for asserting their rights under the ordinance.

In California, Corporate Interests Fight Housing Solutions

David versus Goliath might be a stretch. In one corner is the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), a progressive activist group. In the other is the California Apartment Association (CAA), a property owner organization. ACCE is alleging the CAA is blocking local and statewide solutions to the housing crisis, e.g., tenant protection policies and eviction moratoriums.

ACCE recently released a report titled “From Housing Providers to Drivers of Homelessness: How the California Apartment Association’s Wall Street leadership spent at least $233 million to block housing solutions.”

Here are this report’s highlights.