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California Governor Signs Law Capping Rent Prices

ESSENCE - California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a law on Tuesday that will cap rent increases for certain Californians over the next decade. Proponents of the bill say the legislation will help combat the housing crisis persistent throughout The Golden State.

According to the Associated Press, there are 17 million renters throughout California. Of those, more than half spend 30 percent or more on their monthly housing costs. The fallout from that reality can be seen in the rising numbers of those considered homeless. A recent report states that there has been a 43 percent increase in the last two years.

Black Housing Union Emerges in Oakland

KQED - The leaders of a local nonprofit that helped push a statewide rent cap through the Legislature this month are now focusing on building an African American housing union in Oakland.

About 100 black residents, city leaders and advocates gathered at the West Oakland Branch of the Oakland Public Library on Saturday to discuss ways to fight displacement. It was the second town hall this summer. The first was held in May.

Standing outside the door of the packed room, local resident Maurice Hedgepeth said he came because he has a good job as a truck driver but can't see himself owning a home where he grew up.

"I was just hoping to hear that they were walking down the path of solutions that can help get a lot of us out of this problem," said Hedgepeth.

The meeting focused on educating people about housing rights, including a presentation from the city's Rent Adjustment Board about what sorts of rent hikes are allowable and how to arbitrate illegal increases.

It also focused on the housing discrimination black folks have historically faced in Oakland — such as redlining — with the ultimate goal of mobilizing those who are impacted.

That included informing attendees about strategies that are already at play. For example, the Oakland Community Land Trust "removes land from the speculative market so that it serves low-income residents forever." It is among the organizations that will benefit from $12 million allocated in this year's city budget to create a municipal fund supporting such trusts and limited equity housing cooperatives.

Big Win in Sacramento for Anti Rent-Gouging and Eviction Protections

After years of escalating and brutal displacement driving millions of Californians into poverty or homelessness, today, the California legislature this week passed Assembly Bill 1482 (Chiu) which is now headed to Governor Gavin Newsom’s desk. If approved by the governor, this could become the strongest anti rent-gouging and just-cause eviction law in the nation.

AB 1482, also known as the Tenant Protection Act of 2019, has been driven in large part by the advocacy of tenant leaders of the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) and other organizing groups. The bill gives protections to 7 million tenants, covering more tenants than any single tenant protection bill in recent US history. It will cap rent increases statewide at 5 percent plus the Consumer Price Index (CPI) as well as stop unfair evictions by requiring landlords to have a “just cause” for evicting their tenants.

“This victory proves that California’s renters are a force to be reckoned with, and we aren’t done yet. Led by people of color and seniors, the renters most likely to become homeless without these types of protections, ACCE members will keep fighting and keep winning until every single Californian is guaranteed a safe and affordable home,” said Christina Livingston, the executive director of ACCE.

LA County Set to Impose Permanent Rent Control for Unincorporated Areas

The Board of Supervisors unanimously voted Tuesday to move forward on a permanent rent control ordinance for unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County.

Supervisor Kathryn Barger, who had consistently opposed rental controls in favor of easing development-related regulations, voted in agreement with her colleagues.

"I feel as though a compromise has been made," she said. "When I hear the stories about landlords increasing (rents) by over 100% ... I think that it's an unfair shift to individuals that may be vulnerable."

California Approves Statewide Rent Control to Ease Housing Crisis

California lawmakers approved a statewide rent cap on Wednesday covering millions of tenants, the biggest step yet in a surge of initiatives to address an affordable-housing crunch nationwide.

The bill limits annual rent increases to 5 percent after inflation and offers new barriers to eviction, providing a bit of housing security in a state with the nation’s highest housing prices and a swelling homeless population.

Newsom and top California lawmakers strike a deal to cap rent increases

Millions of Californians would receive new protections against large rent increases under an agreement announced late Friday by Gov. Gavin Newsom and legislative leaders.

The deal, which needs the approval of the Legislature in the next two weeks, would cap rent increases statewide at 5% plus inflation per year for the next decade, according to Newsom’s office. The legislation, Assembly Bill 1482, would also include a provision to prevent some evictions without landlords first providing a reason.

Amid Housing Crisis, Culver City Is The Latest Town To Cap Rents

Culver City approved a temporary rent control measure early Tuesday morning, joining a handful of other Southern California cities that have boosted tenant protections as the state grapples with an affordability crisis.

Sacramento City Council Passes Rent Control Measure

The Sacramento City council passed a rent control measure Tuesday night. Mayor Steinberg pushed the ordinance as a way to deal with rising rent and a lack of affordable housing in the area that’s causing a homeless crisis. Renter Rogina Engebretsen was glad to see Sacramento City Council pass the Tenant Protection and Relief Act, which will limit rent increases to no more than six percent each year plus inflation, with a cap at 10%.

Charter School Advocates Fume Over Final Reform Report

California’s charter lobby remains fiercely opposed to far-reaching reforms found in a state Assembly bill. If some public schools advocates have been less than enthusiastic about Governor Gavin Newsom’s attempts to dilute charter school reform legislation, the governor shouldn’t expect any gratitude from California’s charter lobby.

How California’s Housing Crisis Could Hit Seniors Hard

Audrey Jenkins’s apartment isn’t fancy or large. Though she’s had mold and leaks, her place is tidy and packed with almost two decades’ worth of mementos from a full life.

California Assembly Passes Rent-Cap Bill

SACRAMENTO — In a dramatic victory for tenant advocates, the California Assembly narrowly passed a statewide rent-cap proposal on Wednesday night amid mounting pressure for lawmakers to protect renters from the steepest of increases in a hot rental market.

Everyone Agrees California Has a Housing Crisis. Trying to Fix It Has Become a Battle.

“Everyone hates SB 50—everyone hates it,” said California state Sen. Scott Wiener at a recent forum on the state’s housing crisis. “You hear people getting upset about it, yelling about it, coming down to City Hall and yelling.” Flanked by real estate developers and housing rights advocates, Wiener, a Democrat who represents San Francisco, had come to discuss his ideas for solving the problem—which meant talking about the heated reaction to his signature piece of legislation, Senate Bill 50—the housing bill Californians seem to love to hate.

Elizabeth Warren Wants to Break Wall Street's Stranglehold on the Rental Housing Market

Elizabeth Warren took aim last week at another pillar of Wall Street's empire: the rental housing market. In a portion of her updated version of her ambitious 2018 housing bill, Warren proposed a check on the unregulated takeover of rental housing by the country's biggest investment firms. Instead of allowing Wall Street-backed developers to flip any distressed and foreclosed mortgage into a single-family rental unit, her bill would require the government to help keep the majority of these homes in the possession of individuals, community groups, and affordable-housing developers by setting aside a supply of mortgages that Wall Street can't touch.

Editorial: California renters need relief. That means weakening Costa-Hawkins

Over the last few years, California’s elected officials have finally gotten serious about fixing the housing shortage that is eroding the quality of life here. Lawmakers have passed bills to streamline the development of housing in urban areas and to make it harder for cities to block much-needed housing construction. Voters have approved billions of dollars in new spending to subsidize affordable homes.

Rent control back on California’s agenda with package of Democratic bills

SACRAMENTO — The push to expand rent control in California returned to life in the Legislature on Thursday, just months after state voters overwhelmingly rejected an initiative that would have removed barriers to new tenant protection laws.

California Lawmakers Try Again To Tamp Down Rising Rents

(AP) — California lawmakers are trying again to tamp down rising housing costs by expanding rent control and stopping rental price gouging, warning a failure to act this year could result in another costly ballot measure in 2020.

After rent-control’s defeat, California lawmakers propose tenant protections

SACRAMENTO — Four months after California voters rejected an effort to expand rent control, lawmakers are back with a proposal to loosen decades-old restrictions, allowing local governments to place more properties under rent control.

After ballot failure, there’s a new bid to control what California landlords can charge tenants

Reporting from Sacramento — In the wake of a failed ballot measure to expand rent control, California Democratic lawmakers are introducing a host of new measures that aim to increase protections for tenants.

Subprime Redux: How a Mom From Van Nuys Is Taking on the Biggest Real Estate Corporations in the Country

Silvia Venegas grew up in Van Nuys. She raised her children there. She calls herself a “typical Latina Valley girl.” And now’s she in a fight the likes of which Los Angeles hasn’t seen since the dark days of the Subprime Mortgage Crisis.

The ‘heartbreaking’ decrease in black homeownership

Vanessa Bulnes and her husband, Richard, bought their house on 104th Avenue in East Oakland, Calif., in 1992. The modest two-bedroom property is where they lived for 20 years, raising three children, and where Vanessa made a living running an in-home day-care center. Neighbors in the mostly African American community often saw her planting vegetables in the backyard, with her kids in tow.

Stephen Lerner & Christina Livingston

With housing costs gobbling up wage increases for union members and almost everyone else, labor must prioritize housing affordability. For many millions of Americans, winning decent, safe, and affordable housing is an urgent necessity. Housing costs are putting the squeeze on working families in urban and suburban settings alike, especially in communities of color that have long been targeted by predatory housing schemes.

Why Unions Must Bargain for Affordable Housing—and How

For many millions of Americans, winning decent, safe, and affordable housing is an urgent necessity. Housing costs are putting the squeeze on working families in urban and suburban settings alike, especially in communities of color that have long been targeted by predatory housing schemes. Since the financial crisis, housing affordability has grown even worse for workers, as gentrification, rising rents, and the corporatization of rental properties—both multifamily and single-family homes—displace communities of color and increase homelessness.

The Resurrection of American Labor

According to the official records, U.S. workers went on strike seven times during 2017. That’s a particular nadir in the long decline of organized labor: the second-fewest work stoppages recorded by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics since the agency started keeping track in the 1940s.

Protesters shut down meeting of Los Angeles school board amid strike threat

Protesters turned up at a meeting of the Los Angeles Board of Education and shut down debate at a time when a teacher strike in the nation’s second-largest public school system seems increasingly likely. More than 50 adults and students went to the meeting late Monday and shouted at board members in support of teachers and their union, which has been negotiating for more than 1½ years with the Los Angeles Unified School District and its new superintendent, Austin Beutner, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Election Day Brought Thrilling Victory—and Devastating Defeat—to the Housing Movement

As all eyes were turned toward the big-ticket races in the House and Senate on Tuesday night—as Georgia, Florida, and Texas tiptoed toward history and then hit retreat—activists in cities around the country had their sights set on their own hard-fought prize: a suite of housing initiatives that had the ability to bring relief to millions of renters. Indeed, the mid-term elections were a critical test for this country’s growing tenants’-rights movement, which has emerged as a vibrant political force in recent years as renters and their allies work to combat exorbitant housing costs, rampant gentrification and widespread homelessness.