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California legislative leaders move to extend COVID rent relief, eviction protections

Anti-eviction signs decorate the Rodney Drive apartments in Los Feliz.

LOS ANGELES TIMES — A week before California's eviction moratorium was scheduled to expire, top Democrats in the Legislature announced a proposal on Thursday to extend COVID-19 pandemic protections for tenants by another three months so the state can finish sending out rent relief payments.

Assembly Bill 2179 would move the date on which landlords may initiate eviction proceedings from April 1 to July 1, as long as an application is submitted by March 31 to a rent relief program. Democratic legislative leaders said the extension would give applicants more time to receive the help and avoid losing their homes.

California lawmakers propose extending eviction protections ahead of next week’s deadline

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Hundreds of thousands of California renters facing eviction next week could get another three months of protection under a bill top legislative leaders endorsed on Thursday.

The federal government sent billions of dollars to the states to help people who fell behind on their rent payments during the pandemic. California’s program will pay for 100% of people’s unpaid rent if they meet certain income requirements.

How long are Californians waiting for rent relief?

Tenants and housing rights activists protest for a halting of rent payments and mortgage debt, during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Los Angeles on October 1, 2020. Photo be Lucy Nicholson, REUTERS

Only 16% of nearly half a million renters who applied for rent relief from the state of California have been paid, according to a new analysis released today. And the clock is ticking: Under state law, landlords will be able to evict tenants who failed to pay rent by April 1.

Of more than 488,000 households who applied for assistance since the program launched in March 2021, about 180,000 were approved. Four percent were denied, and more than half of applicants are still awaiting a response, according to the study, produced by the National Equity Atlas, Housing Now and the Western Center on Law & Poverty using state data. 

Landlords sue to end eviction moratoriums in Oakland and Alameda County

OAKLAND, CA - A group of local landlords filed a lawsuit in federal court Tuesday seeking to overturn Oakland and Alameda County’s current eviction bans, which were triggered by the start of the pandemic . . .

The action came after the landlords’ attorney, Andrew Zacks, sent a letter to the Oakland City Council and the Alameda County Board of Supervisors in January warning the legal challenge was coming. The suit is part of a broader push by property owners’ groups across the state to end local eviction bans.

Preocupa a inquilinos incremento de la renta en la vivienda

LOS ANGELES - A principios del 2020 Verónica Arias y su familia habían recibido una orden de su arrendatario que la renta de su apartamento aumentaría por más de $300. Sin embargo, la pandemia del Covid-19 detuvo el proceso por dos años el cual expiró hasta este año y pronto recibirán otra carta notificando en cuanto aumentará su renta.

La familia de cuatro actualmente paga $997 en el apartamento localizado en Los Ángeles.

“Este es un edificio de bajos recursos y uno paga dependiendo de cuánto gana el inquilino”, dijo Arias, de 51 años.

Aumentan los desalojos durante la pandemia en California

LOS ANGELES - A tan solo dos meses de que haya expirado la moratoria de desalojos en California y a medida que las infecciones del covid-19 aumentan en medio de la variante ómicron, activistas y defensores de inquilinos reportan un aumento en los casos de desalojo.

Esto está ocurriendo inclusive en lugares como la ciudad y el condado de Los Ángeles, los cuales cuentan con protecciones para evitar que las familias se queden sin un techo donde dormir.

A Suburb With an Eviction Problem

The place with the highest rate of evictions in the Bay Area during the pandemic wasn't a big city like Oakland or San Francisco — instead it was a suburb that has been radically transformed by housing crisis after housing crisis. Antioch, a working-class town on the outskirts of the Bay, has seen an influx of Black and Brown folks pushed from more expensive cities in search of a place they can afford.

In our first episode of Season 2 of Sold Out, we visit a neighborhood in Antioch with a high concentration of evictions. We’ll hear from renters, activists and politicians to find out how a lack of affordable housing is remaking the suburbs, not just in the Bay Area but across the country.

COVID eviction battles have moved to the Bay Area suburbs

BAY AREA - At her apartment down the street from San Pablo City Hall, Anita Mendoza wondered if the eviction lawsuit she was served last month will push her out of her home of 28 years.

In downtown Palo Alto, middle school teacher Mohamed Chakmakchi worried that his 7-year-old would have to go live with family if he was forced out of his two-bedroom rental.

At her Antioch kitchen table blanketed with eviction notices and anti-anxiety medication, Carmen Ponce was once again terrified of ending up living in her car with her daughter and granddaughter.

“I want to go with dignity,” Ponce said in Spanish. “I don’t want to go because they ran me out, because they kicked me out as if I was worthless.”

When can a Sacramento landlord raise my rent and by how much? Here’s what to know

Sacramento Bee - Sacramento limits the amount rent can be increased — but the details can be tricky.

If you’re protected under Sacramento’s Tenant Protection Program, your landlord can only raise rent 9% once annually.

That’s 5% plus the consumer price index figure for April. The maximum is adjusted annually but cannot exceed 10%.

And the program, which protects tenants by establishing limits in rent increases and limitations on unwarranted evictions, only protects multi-family homes built before Feb. 1, 1995 — excluding newer buildings.

“It’s absolutely vital for renters to be informed about their rights and the protections that are set in place because many individuals, especially non-English speakers, tend to not really be able to understand jargon...which often leads to self evictions,” said Luis Fernando Anguiano Quiroz, the statewide communications associate of the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment.

San Pablo: Tenants to be evicted so apartment units can be upgraded

SILICON VALLEY - Should local governments step in to prevent renters from being displaced when California’s aging rental stock needs to be renovated?

The San Pablo City Council spent hours debating that question Tuesday night after a group of residents and advocates implored it to intervene in the pending eviction of several tenants from an apartment building built in 1967.

One of those tenants,  Anita Mendoza, has lived in the 14-unit apartment complex at 2235 Church Lane for 28 years. She pays $450 for the one-bedroom unit where she raised her daughter, who eventually moved back home while going to school.

The 55-year-old caretaker for seniors and children in the area recognizes her rent is much lower than what market-rate units in San Pablo and the rest of the Bay Area fetch. And she’s grateful for that.

“I have been a loyal and respective tenant for several years,” said Mendoza, one of only seven households still left in the building. “I have single-handedly raised my daughter here and made relationships.”

But Mendoza’s time at the Porto Apartments may be limited, as she and her neighbors face a nearly $1,000 rent hike.

Antioch may enact tenant protections against evictions, harassment and more

EAST BAY TIMES - Antioch may extend some tenant protections, many of which were first enacted during the pandemic and are set to expire.

After listening to a long stream of renters, housing advocates and others urging the city to extend the tenant protections, the City Council on Tuesday directed staff to draft potential laws that would continue the safeguards.

With moratoriums ending and positive COVID-19 cases still high, renters facing evictions and rent increases asked the council to enact an ordinance that would control rents, protect tenants from landlord harassment and require a just-cause provision for evictions . . .

The Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, which led the charge, said the goal was to curb rising homelessness and protect tenants, who make up a third of Antioch’s residents, many paying more than 30 percent of their income on rent.

“If the City Council passes the three ordinances proposed, my family will finally be able to sleep without the threat of homelessness looming over our heads,” Carmen Ponce, an Antioch renter and Alliance member, said in a statement.

Entire San Pablo Apartment Building Faces Eviction After State Moratorium Ends

NBC Bay Area - As the pandemic rages on, eviction protections have dried up for millions of Californians, including the longtime residents of a San Pablo apartment complex now being kicked out by their new landlord who says he needs to renovate the building.

In December, tenants received eviction notices stating they had to be gone by January 15 because their units needed major repairs.

But the tenants and their attorney say the landlord is using a legal loophole to get them out, so he can bring in new tenants willing to pay market rate rent.

Historic hotel to be converted into affordable housing

DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES - Under new ownership, the historic Downtown Barclay Hotel will undergo renovations and be converted into single-room-occupancy, affordable housing for formerly unhoused and low-income individuals.

The Los Angeles-based nonprofit AIDS Healthcare Foundation acquired the property in October. It will renovate the 158-unit hotel into affordable housing units.

AHF and the organization’s housing subsidiary, Healthy Housing Foundation, hosted a holiday-themed ceremony late December, formally rededicating the hotel and unveiling a plaque officially solidifying the future intended use of the long-standing, historic property.

This hotel marks AHF’s 11th property on its list of affordable, single-room-occupancy buildings throughout LA. The organization now has 1,183 units, with some being in Downtown, like The King Edward and The Baltimore hotels, all centered around housing individuals and families in need.

Inestabilidad en la vivienda y acoso

LA  OPINION - El año 2021, el segundo año de la pandemia de covid-19, se caracterizó por la inestabilidad en la vivienda y el acoso de arrendadores contra inquilinos.

“Si bien el gobierno ha ayudado a los inquilinos afectados por covid-19 con el pago de hasta 18 meses de renta, el proceso para obtener la ayuda puede tardar meses, y en ese tiempo son víctimas de un acoso terrible por parte del dueño de la vivienda”, dice Lupita González, organizadora comunitaria de la Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), una organización que ayuda y educa a los inquilinos para evitar el desalojo.

Should renters get first dibs in Bay Area real estate deals?

New proposals would shake up Bay Area real estate market

East Bay Times - As the Bay Area grasps for new ways to quell its affordable housing shortage, several cities are considering controversial policies that would give some tenants a shot at buying their homes — a move that’s sharply dividing property owners and renters.

To prevent big-pocketed investors from scooping up homes, raising rents and forcing tenants out, East Palo Alto, San Jose, Oakland and Berkeley are eyeing ordinances that would give renters, nonprofits or the city first dibs on some sales. Known as opportunity to purchase acts, the ordinances have been heralded by tenant rights advocates as a way to give renters a leg up in the overheated housing market. But the idea faces strong opposition from some landlords and real estate groups who argue they represent an unconscionable interference in the rights of property owners.

Affordable Housing Plan Gives Tenants, Cities, Non-Profits First Chance To Buy Bay Area Properties

KPIX - As cities search for ways to keep housing within people’s financial reach, a new tool is being considered that may give tenants and housing advocates more muscle in buying properties. Some landlords say it removes their rights as owners.

For more than two years, the people who live at an apartment complex on 29th Avenue, in Oakland, have been staging a rent strike against their landlord. They’ve held marches and protests and on Friday, they won. The property owner agreed to sell the building to the city’s Community Land Trust to become permanent affordable housing.

“It’s a big win. It’s like a light in the darkness, right now,” said Grabriella Vivas, an organizer for a housing group called the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment.

Rent strikes, protests pay off: Oakland tenants convince landlord to sell building

San Jose Mercury News - After more than two years of protesting, rallying and withholding rent payments, a group of Oakland tenants has scored a major victory in the fight to take control of their building.

The property owner has agreed to sell the 14-unit building on 29th Avenue in Oakland’s Fruitvale neighborhood for $3.3 million, according to the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, the tenants’ rights group working with the renters. The building will be purchased by the Oakland Community Land Trust — a nonprofit that buys market-rate properties and converts them into affordable housing.

It’s a big milestone for the tenants involved, and it comes as efforts to give renters more control over their homes are picking up speed. Community land trusts are building momentum throughout the Bay Area as a potential way to preserve affordable housing in a market where prices continue to spiral out of control. At the same time, Oakland and other Bay Area cities are eyeing new ordinances that would give tenants the opportunity to buy their buildings before they go on the market.

Tenants take complaints of poor conditions, harassment to Costa Mesa property manager

LA Times - Tenants of an apartment complex in Baldwin Hills traveled to Orange County last week to protest alleged unfair treatment from a Costa Mesa property management company whose staff they claim has harassed residents and threatened to evict them.

A group amassed during a Dec. 9 demonstration outside the Red Hill Avenue regional office of FPI Management, which manages nearly 150,000 units nationwide, including a handful of Orange County properties and the 4063 Nicolet Ave. apartments in Los Angeles.

That’s where residents, primarily people of color, maintain FPI has attempted to evict them from their homes in an effort to raise rents while neglecting to maintain the units.

Push to hold Sacramento’s corporate landlord titan accountable carries into the State Capitol

Constituent support of AB 1199 could be critical in breaking Wall Street’s stranglehold on the region’s rental market

Sacramento News & Review - Last week, housing and poverty advocates descended on the San Francisco offices of Blackstone Group, a controversial real estate player that’s the largest corporate landlord in Sacramento County. Tenants were demanding that Blackstone stop rent-gouging while at the time allegedly deferring heath and safety repairs in many of its California units.

A number of nonprofits are also continuing to fight in Sacramento for the passage of AB 1199, a bill aimed at holding private equity profiteers like Blackstone accountable for their behavior during the 2008 financial collapse – and now during the pandemic.

The recent action at Blackstone’s San Francisco headquarters was one of several protests targeting the company on Dec. 9, including tenants converging on its property management firm in Los Angeles, FPI. Blackstone famously bought-up tens of thousands of homes in the region that were under water on their mortgages during the financial meltdown at the end of the Bush administration, absorbing them into an ever-expanding blob of rental properties on the north state’s map. Numerous houses in Placer and Yolo counties are part of the picture, while Blackstone has also earned the distinction of becoming the largest private property owner in Sacramento County, second only to the county government itself.

'Is He Going to Kick Us to the Street?': A Walnut Creek Mom Fights to Keep Her Apartment Amid Alleged Landlord Harassment

KQED - The past few years have been long and stressful for Dahbia Benakli.

At the end of 2019, she got divorced. With no one to help take care of her two young daughters, she was forced to quit her job as a preschool teacher. Her father helped her buy a car so she could drive for Uber and DoorDash to make rent.

Then the coronavirus pandemic hit, and ride-hailing work dried up. Together with unemployment insurance, Benakli was making just over $2,000 a month — almost half of which she was using to pay the rent for the one-bedroom Walnut Creek apartment she’s lived in for the last 10 years.

San Diego area tenants stage protest against corporate landlord Blackstone

KPBS - A group of mostly low-income tenants and their advocates staged a protest Thursday in Mission Valley to call attention to what they say are predatory practices by the New York-based real estate behemoth Blackstone, which this year paid more than $1 billion for nearly 6,000 San Diego area rental units.

Blackstone tenants who took part in the protest said the company is raising rents and not making good on promises to renovate rundown properties. They are demanding, among other things, that the company not raise rents until California’s COVID state of emergency — which was extended to March 2022 —is lifted and to keep increases at 3% or less thereafter.

“We’re not being respected as tenants, the issues are not being taken care of and the home that was once beautiful that we were living in is now embarrassing, somewhat, to bring family and friends,” said Kathleen, a tenant of a Blackstone-owned apartment complex in La Mesa, who didn’t want to provide her last name for fear of reprisals.

Real Estate Firm That Owned 'Moms 4 Housing' House Hit With $3.5M Penalty From State

SFist - Wedgewood, the real estate investment firm that is best known locally for their role in a standoff with a group of homeless Oakland mothers two years ago, has reportedly reached a $3.5 million settlement with the state of California over its eviction practices statewide.

An operation with national reach, Wedgewood's core business involves residential real estate speculation and house flipping — or, as they describe it on their website, "the purchase, revitalization and resale of single-family residences throughout the United States." One of those purchases back in 2017 was a home at 2928 Magnolia Street in West Oakland, which housing activists decided to make an example of after Wedgewood sat on the property and left it vacant for two years amid a regional housing and homelessness crisis.

In November 2019, several homeless mothers and their children moved in and occupied the property, launching an effort they called Moms 4 Housing that was meant to highlight the role that real estate speculation plays in our housing crisis. About seven weeks of legal wrangling ensued in which Wedgewood sought to have the squatters removed, and meanwhile the story gained national attention and the mothers had widespread support across Oakland and beyond.

Refugee, her daughters, 3 grandchildren face eviction in Sacramento ahead of Thanksgiving

Sacramento Bee - 

A refugee from Mexico and her family are facing eviction from their Sacramento home on the day before Thanksgiving.

“My biggest worry is where am I going to have my grandchildren living,” Eduviges Garcia, 48, said Monday through a translator. “Them becoming homeless makes me really anxious.”

Garcia’s three grandchildren, including a 6-month old and two 5-year-olds, have been living with her in the Mangan Park home, along with her two daughters, her daughter’s partner and her own partner.


Opinion: San Diego County needs a majority Latino voting district. It shouldn’t take so long.

San Diego Union-Tribune - Garcia is the policy director at the Environmental Health Coalition and lives in Chula Vista. López is the director of Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment-San Diego. He lives in Imperial Beach.

One in three San Diegans are Latino. One in four San Diegans eligible to vote are Latino.

Yet in the last 50 years, Nora Vargas is the only Latino candidate elected to the San Diego County Board of Supervisors.

You read that right. One Latino leader in five decades.

Go back a full century — 100 years — and that number skyrockets up to ... two.

It’s a stark and shameful history of political disenfranchisement for a cross-border region that prides itself as home to a vibrant, growing Latino community.

And it’s time to end this injustice by including a majority Latino district in San Diego County’s 2021 redistricting plan. In fact, this is required by the federal Voting Rights Act.

Richmond renter sues former landlord amid pandemic-era spike in harassment

Richmond Confidential - These days Clara Realageno sleeps in her car.

In the morning she packs up her things — a pillow, blankets, a suitcase and some toiletries — and drops them off at a friend’s house so they don’t get stolen while she’s at work.

It’s been five months since Realageno’s landlord evicted her by changing the locks to her studio in Richmond. With nowhere else to go, Realageno now spends most nights in her backseat.

In September, Realageno sued her former landlords, Gabriel and Ibeth Lopez, in Contra Costa County Superior Court, alleging the lock-out was the culmination of months of harassment, threats and intimidation.