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L.A. County ends controversial PACE home improvement loan program

 

LA Times - Los Angeles County has ended its controversial PACE home improvement loan program, a decision that follows years of criticism that the county enabled predatory lending and put people at risk of losing their homes.

County officials — who launched the PACE program in 2015 to fund energy- and water-efficient home improvements — said they made the decision after determining the program lacked adequate consumer protections.

Homeowners repeatedly alleged the private home improvement contractors who signed them up for PACE misrepresented how the financing would work, saddling them with loans they could not understand or afford.

MOMS 4 HOUSING ORGANIZER CARROLL FIFE IS REDEFINING WHAT WEALTH DISTRIBUTION LOOKS LIKE FOR BLACK PEOPLE GLOBALLY

 

Black Enterprise - Oakland-based organizer and Regional Director of the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment for San Francisco and Oakland, Carroll Fife, has dedicated her life’s work to advocating for the rights of marginalized people. During these unprecedented times, Fife sat down with BLACK ENTERPRISE to share the importance of her work on the front lines, with Moms 4 Housing, and administratively as she helps black people remain politically engaged and empowered.

Over the span of her career, Fife has been able to make incredible strides toward the liberation of oppressed people. Fife is a selfless organizer who understands that educating others as you uplift them is what ignites lasting change. That, coupled with the power of storytelling, is how she and the women she organizes with has attributed to their success.

 

ADVOCATES HAIL END OF CONTROVERSIAL LOS ANGELES COUNTY PACE PROGRAM

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Media Contact: Rekha Radhakrishnan, 832-628-2312, rradhakrishnan@publiccounsel.org

ADVOCATES HAIL END OF CONTROVERSIAL LOS ANGELES COUNTY PACE PROGRAM

Homeowner and consumer advocates call on local entities statewide to follow the County’s lead and protect vulnerable homeowners from predatory financing scheme

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – May 19, 2020 – Bet Tzedek, Public Counsel, ACCE, Haven Neighborhood Services, Neighborhood Legal Services, and UC Irvine School of Law are celebrating Los Angeles County’s decision to end its highly criticized Property Assessed Clean Energy (“PACE”) financing program, which has victimized thousands of County homeowners. In ending its program, the County of Los Angeles confirmed what advocates and victims have been saying for years: that the County “cannot be certain” that the PACE program can “provide sufficient protection for all consumers.” The County discontinued new financing under its PACE program effective May 13, 2020. See ISD PACE Termination FAQs.

In response to the mounting economic pressure homeowners across the state feel due to the COVID- 19 pandemic, advocates again call on the City of Los Angeles and other local entities across the state to end their continued participation in non-County PACE programs to protect all Californians.

 

Moms 4 Housing Is Fighting to Make Sure Everyone Has a Home

This Oakland-based group is reclaiming vacant homes from speculators and profiteers so that no one ends up on the streets.

Shondaland - Last November, Dominique Walker had a radical plan: Occupy a vacant house in her hometown to protest the fact that there are far more empty houses in Oakland, California than those in need of a home. Though she had the support of the community, Wedgewood Inc., a house-flipping company that owned the home, sued to have them thrown out.

“I've never seen an eviction done in that manner. There were [Roomba-like] robots that came into the house, like we were terrorists. They sent the robot in first, and then they came in. They had AR-15s and military fatigues, and tanks for mothers and babies,” Walker says, recalling the Tuesday morning this past January when the incident happened.

Los Angeles’s ‘Eviction Ban’ Doesn’t Protect Tenants

The city’s emergency measures will only delay a huge wave of evictions until later this year.

The Nation - California is often painted by liberal media as the “State of Resistance,” where rationality prevails and the response to Covid-19 has been guided by science. And Los Angeles might appear to be this progressive bastion’s crown jewel: In recent years, media outlets have praised LA’s mayor, rising Democratic star Eric Garcetti, for leading what one Economist story proposed as “the model for a more diverse America.” The mayor’s nightly Covid-19 briefings, streamed on Facebook, “come from a place of love,” one law professor recently told the Los Angeles Times. “He’s tried to come from a place of kindness. He’s trying to build consensus.”

This boosterism obscures the racialized poverty, suffering, and violence that coexist uneasily with astonishing wealth in this paradise of liberal capitalism. LA has never been a friendly place for tenants, but the situation has worsened in recent decades, as wages stagnated and rents soared. Now LA is staring down the barrel of what could be the largest wave of forced evictions in the region’s history, and local leaders—including Garcetti—are refusing to do what’s necessary to secure housing for renters and unhoused Angelenos.

Rather than being a model city, Los Angeles has become a cautionary tale: Even under the best conditions that liberalism and the Democratic Party have to offer, those who don’t own property will be exploited by those who do.

Cancel the Rent

The New Yorker - It is now clear that the twin prescriptions of social isolation and shuttering large parts of the national economy have lowered the death toll of the novel coronavirus in the United States from the direst predictions. But in a country where the “social safety net” is more a distant memory than a source of actual provision or support, large swaths of the public now face the threat of hunger and homelessness. Each passing week brings more questions about what our cities and states will look like when the shelter-in-place orders are lifted; they also bring us one week closer to the rent coming due.

By May 6th, twenty per cent of tenants had not paid this month’s rent, a slight improvement over the twenty-two per cent who did not pay last month’s rent in the first week. This is probably the result of renters receiving increased unemployment and stimulus checks, but it is also unsustainable. Republicans have vowed not to renew the extra unemployment money when it comes up for a vote again in July, and most states are running out of funding to make their shares of the payments. Meanwhile, in a matter of weeks, a staggering thirty-three million people have filed for unemployment, and the future of millions more hangs in the balance. April’s unemployment rate was nearly fifteen per cent, a height of joblessness not reached since the Great Depression. The Congressional Budget Office has projected that by the fall, the official unemployment rate could rise even higher, to sixteen per cent.

These Moms Fought for a Home—And Started a Movement

 

VOGUE - In Oakland, the Bay Area’s deep-rooted housing crisis is starkly visible. In makeshift encampments, the city's homeless live in tents, old cars, and mobile homes clustered together in parking lots. Vacant houses, all chipped paint and rotting wood, stand feet away from newly renovated properties that tech industry transplants would swoop up in a heartbeat.

At the end of last year, Moms 4 Housing, a group of Oakland-born unhoused and marginally housed community activists, began a campaign to face these issues head-on. They planned an occupation of one home that had been sitting vacant for years, setting their sights on fighting gentrification, institutional poverty, and a speculative housing market that’s completely transformed the city that they grew up in. It garnered attention worldwide, and now, in the wake of COVID-19, their actions have taken on a whole new context. How can California’s homeless population heed the call to shelter in place when there’s no such shelter to speak of?

Gimme Shelter Podcast: #CancelTheRent, with a California renter and landlord

LA Times - With the state's economy in pandemic-induced freefall, missed rent payments are piling up for California tenants and landlords. On this episode of Gimme Shelter, Matt and Liam discuss whether a rent strike will provoke the state into action, and what can the government realistically do to help? First, the Avocado of the Fortnite takes us to Liam's backyard (4:00). Then a discussion of the #CancelTheRent movement and two state proposals to address the issue (7:00). Then an interview with Patricia Mendoza, a renter in Imperial Beach who participated in the May 1 rent strike (30:00). Finally, an interview with Evelyn Garcia, whose family owns an apartment complex in South L.A. (44:00).

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