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Tenants Rights Advocates Call For A Stronger Anti-Harassment Ordinance

City News Service - Tenants' rights advocates today called on the Los Angeles City Council to amend the city's proposed tenant harassment ordinance to include stronger enforcement measures.

The City Council's Housing Committee is scheduled to review the draft ordinance on Wednesday, according to the city clerk.

``We are urging the council members to take a serious look at this situation and to go ahead and pass the anti-harassment ordinance,'' an advocate said at the rally organized by the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment. ”This is a very serious matter. The more you ignore it, the bigger it gets.''

Oakland tenants sue over alleged ‘atrocious’ living conditions

San Jose Mercury News - About two dozen Fruitvale tenants are suing their landlord, demanding he fix living conditions they say range from rat infestations to holes in the floor to an ongoing lack of hot water.

The six-unit building on 28th Avenue is rife with health and safety issues that violate state and local law, according to lawyers who filed the lawsuit this week in Alameda County Superior Court. They claim landlord Michael You, who owns the complex through BYLD 2 LLC, has neglected the building since taking ownership in 2018 — despite repeated requests by tenants to make repairs.

“He has willingly violated these laws and allowed atrocious conditions to exist in this property,” said Ruby Acevedo, a lawyer with Public Advocates who is representing the plaintiffs.

New Organization Eases Eviction Anxiety for San Diegans

NBC San Diego - Patricia Mendoza’s fight to keep her home has been anything but easy.

"It's been a nightmare, but what's really helped me is learning my rights, to know that I'm not alone,” said Mendoza, an Imperial Beach single mother of two.

Mendoza lost her job in medical transportation last March, and while her landlord wanted her out of her home due to her inability to pay rent, she’s been able to resist two eviction orders.

Millions Set Aside For Rent Relief In County But Some Landlords Didn’t Take It

KPBS - The city and county of San Diego set aside more than $47 million in federal coronavirus aid last fall to pay landlords whose low-income tenants were behind on rent.

But some eligible renters didn’t get any help because their landlords didn’t take the money and they weren’t required to explain why.

Rent Relief Program Can't Come Soon Enough for Angelenos on the Brink

Spectrum News 1 - It’s been a long time since Adela Peñabla has gotten a good night’s sleep. "My body starts to shake and I have depression,” she said. 

An immigrant from El Salvador, Peñabla moved to Southern California 18 years ago, making a living as a street vendor. She’s been renting a tiny room in house in South L.A., where she cooks her meals in a make shift kitchen, using bottled water in lieu of a sink.

She’s been able to make just enough to cover her $370 a month rent, until the pandemic hit and her income dried up overnight.

Why Landlords Target Mothers for Eviction

Mothers are being evicted far more frequently than other Americans. This is the hidden story of America's looming housing crisis.

The New Republic - In February, a white man showed up at Patricia Mendoza’s door and informed her that the month-to-month lease for her two-bedroom apartment in Imperial Beach, California, would be terminated on April 10. He was speaking so loudly that her daughter began recording him on her phone; inside, Mendoza’s son began to cry. They had been through two eviction attempts since the pandemic began last March. Now, they would have to fend off another.

Before the pandemic, Mendoza told me, she would have said the worst thing that had ever happened to her was her divorce. “It was a dark time in my life,” she said, but “nothing compared to what my struggle is now.”

Inquilinos son desalojados en el sur de Los Ángeles

La Opinion - Las redes sociales mostraron imágenes de inquilinos que salían con sus pocas pertenencias en bolsas de plástico de una propiedad en el sur de Los Ángeles el jueves por la mañana.

Aproximadamente 12 inquilinos de una casa de huéspedes, localizada sobre la calle 46 y la esquina McKinley en el sur de Los Ángeles, desconocían que la renta que estaban pagando no iba directa a los dueños de la propiedad, sino a un inquilino principal que desapareció.

La casa de huéspedes usualmente albergaba a personas que eran mayores de edad o personas en recuperación de adicciones. No era parte de ningún programa gubernamental. Los vecinos dicen que el inquilino principal rentaba por su cuenta y los interesados se enteraban acerca de esta vivienda mediante amigos o conocidos.

Coming Soon: ‘The Moms of Magnolia Street' Documentary

NBC Bay Area - A new digital-first investigative series coming in late March 2021 to the NBC Bay Area app on Roku and Apple TV and to NBCBayArea.com

Against the backdrop of California’s affordability crisis, pushing thousands of Black residents out of their homes and onto the streets, a group of unhoused working mothers in Oakland took matters into their own hands.

In November 2019, the mothers formed a group called Moms 4 Housing and illegally occupied a vacant, corporate-owned home on Magnolia Street in West Oakland. Standing on the shoulders of generations of iconic Oakland activists, such as the Black Panthers and Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, the moms’ act of civil disobedience sparked a national reckoning around displacement and the erosion of African American neighborhoods.

“The Moms of Magnolia Street” follows the moms’ journeys as they took on the large home-flipping corporation and challenged the city’s power structure.

Rally goers demand that LAUSD schools not reopen until more safety measures in place

Participants want access to vaccines for school staff and all zip codes serviced by district to be out of purple tier

LA Daily News - Students, parents, educators and community members rallied in downtown Los Angeles on Saturday, Feb. 20, to demand that schools not reopen amid the pandemic until stronger safety measures are in place. The event featured a mid-morning car caravan rally that began outside the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce and ended at the Ronald Reagan State Building.

High Number of Evictions Prompts Richmond to Consider Stronger Protections

KQED - More renters in Richmond may soon be protected from evictions after the City Council on Tuesday approved directing city staff to draft stronger eviction protections for tenants during the pandemic.

"We feel the urgency of now, that we have to take action. So what we want to do is fill the gaps. This is the best scenario that we can do and we want to do the best scenario," said Richmond City Council member Gayle McLaughlin, who introduced the item.

Despite statewide protections that prevent tenants from eviction for nonpayment of rent if they claim a financial hardship, evictions are still happening, including in the city of Richmond. Contra Costa County evicted 135 people between the beginning of the pandemic and the end of 2020, the second-highest number of evictions across the Bay Area. That’s according to a KQED analysis of sheriff lockouts that was cited in the council member’s report.

Legal loopholes allow CA landlords to force tenants out even during eviction moratorium

Despite that moratorium, some landlords are looking for ways around the law to try to force tenants out now.

ABC 10 - A single mother of two young children has vowed that she will have to be "dragged out" of her home, after receiving notice by her landlord she's being forced out of her rental unit in Imperial Beach. This threat to evict Patricia Mendoza comes despite the current statewide eviction moratorium, which has now been extended through June.

Despite that moratorium, some landlords are looking for ways around the law to try to force tenants out now.

"It's a living nightmare," Mendoza said. "I'm going to have to live in my van with my two children, and that's not fair. It's not fair for anybody's family."

Mayor Gloria announces $45.5 million in COVID-19 rent relief from state

CBS 8 - On the heels of announcing federal rental assistance in late January, Mayor Todd Gloria announced Friday the state will provide $45.5 million in assistance for San Diego residents unable to pay rent due to the impacts of COVID-19.

These funds can also be used to help some San Diegans who are behind in paying their utility bills. A recent study by the state's Water Resources Control Board, for example, finds that nearly 70,000 San Diegans county-wide are currently behind on their water bills.

The state and direct federal funding amounts to nearly $87.9 million in relief for families and individuals who have been devastated financially by the pandemic. This is on top of $13.75 million in emergency rental assistance that helped 3,717 San Diego households in 2020.

Depleted savings, ruined credit: What happens when all the rent comes due?

LA Times - Millions of Americans unable to pay their rent during the pandemic face a snowballing financial burden that threatens to deplete their savings, ruin their credit and drive them from their homes.

A patchwork of government action is protecting many of the most financially strapped tenants for now. But it could take these renters — especially low-income ones — years to recover, even as the rest of the economy begins to rebound.

The Community Housing Activist Voted Onto Oakland’s City Council

Jacobin - Carroll Fife is a community organizer based in Oakland, California. She recently came to prominence for her role in helping to organize the Moms 4 Housing movement at the end of 2019, before going on to win a city council seat this past November. She won in the council district of West Oakland, the historic center of the Black Panthers that had, in more recent years, been controlled by a neoliberal representative. She still holds her position as the director of the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), and is looking to take her grassroots movement-building experience to city hall to achieve real material change for the working class.

Fife ran on a platform of the right to housing, defunding the police to fund public services, and implementing the Black New Deal — a local variant on the Green New Deal that takes anti-racism as a key focus. As she prepares to enter city hall, Fife sat down with Jacobin to discuss her background in organizing, the fight to build municipal power, and what it would look like to decommodify human essentials like housing.

Why California’s Rent Moratorium Falls Short

The rent moratorium extension worked out in Sacramento is a flawed and incomplete emergency measure.

Capital & Main - Placed strictly in the context of the urgency that surrounds it, Monday’s announcement of a proposed extension of eviction protections for California’s battered lower income renters is welcome news. Moreover, since the deal was worked out among both state Senate and Assembly leaders, quick passage on Thursday is almost assured.

But a fix it is not. Rather, it’s exactly what it appears to be: a flawed and in many ways incomplete emergency measure, crafted in the high heat of the COVID-19 pandemic without the input of some significant stakeholders — and certain to require adjustments or perhaps follow-up legislation altogether.

Put another way, it is one piece of a very large puzzle. And when it comes to California’s ongoing crisis of affordable housing, that puzzle continues to grow.

Lawmakers Propose Extending Eviction Moratorium Until June 30

CapRadio - Legislators are prepared to extend California’s eviction moratorium to the end of June while offering landlords an incentive to forgive back rent using an extra $2.6 billion the state received from the latest federal relief bill.

Legislators and groups representing landlords and tenants worked on a deal over the weekend, and the bill, SB 91, was introduced this morning, which means lawmakers can vote on it Thursday morning.  

“We have a deal,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said at a press conference, noting that the deal also extended to financial assistance for unpaid utilities.

...

“If federal tenant protection policies are mandatory because of the decades of evidence that landlords discriminate, such as fair housing, why would we allow landlords to opt out of a tenant protection program where the cost to society and human life could be catastrophic,” said Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment executive director Christina Livingston in a statement.

Could the Right to Counsel Movement Save Millions From Eviction?

Spectrum News 1 -  Inside the eviction defense network offices in Westlake, siblings and attorneys Nathaly and Stefano Medina are working to keep hundreds of low-income Angelenos in their home.

They’ve had a fighters spirit since they were little, activists, a bit peleones, meaning agitators.

Cancel the Rent: A Rising National Rent Strike Movement Gains Momentum

Truthout - Rent strikes have spread across the country with the spread of the coronavirus. In the pandemic’s first months, 400 New York City families stopped paying rent in buildings with over 1,500 rental units. In May, rent strikes involving 200,000 tenants spread to Philadelphia and elsewhere. Washington, D.C., in September saw tenant unions spring up in strikes at the Tivoli Gardens Apartments and the Woodner, as well as Southern Towers in nearby Alexandria.

Rent strikes had a history as a resistance tactic before the pandemic hit. Cleveland tenants settled a rent strike in February, after 38 families forced concessions on the landlord of the 348-unit Vue Apartments in Beachwood. San Francisco had a famous rent strike that went on for three years at the Midtown Park Apartments, ending in 2017.

Demandan protección para inquilinos durante la pandemia

Telemundo 52 - Inquilinos afectados por la pandemia aprovechan el miércoles por la noche el inicio de las tradicionales posadas para demandar a los miembros de la legislatura estatal que aprueben una extensión a la ley que los protege de ser desalojados. Gabriel Huerta reporta el 16 de diciembre de 2020.

San Diegans caravan to extend rent moratorium

CBS 8 - There are pleas from renters who said they could lose everything if the current eviction moratorium expires. Californians owe an estimated $1.7 billion in back rent and still find themselves unemployed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. State lawmakers are hoping to extend the moratorium while Gov. Gavin Newsom looks to the federal government for help.

California’s ban on evictions would last through 2021 under new extension proposal

San Francisco Examiner - 

California tenants struggling to pay rent due to COVID-19 would have until the end of 2021 to avoid eviction under a moratorium extension a Democratic lawmaker plans to introduce Monday.

At the end of August, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 3088 into law, which requires tenants to pay at least 25% of their rent from Sept. 1 to Jan. 31, 2021 to avoid eviction. Tenants weren’t obligated to immediately back-fill payments missed from the start of the emergency in March through the summer, as long as they proved economic hardship, but landlords are entitled to eventually recoup all rent lost.

The law’s protections are scheduled to expire Feb. 1, and landlords can start collecting missed rent in civil court by March.

New Councilmembers Reid and Fife Pledge Action in 2021 on Housing, Homelessness

Post News Group - Treva Reid, District 7, and Carroll Fife, District 3, are the two new City Councilmembers elected in November pledging to use the power and resources of local government to help Oaklanders turn a corner on the multiple, intertwined poverty-fueled crises that impact the city.

Among the issues their top priorities for 2021 are rampant homelessness and housing insecurity for many thousands more.

TENANTS DECLARE VICTORY AS LANDLORDS DENIED INJUNCTION IN CHALLENGE TO LOS ANGELES COVID-19 TENANT PROTECTIONS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 16, 2020

Media Contact: Rekha Radhakrishnan, 832-628-2312, [email protected]

Ralph Jean, 404-895-7004, [email protected]

Sylvia Moore, 213-804-4679, [email protected] 

 

TENANTS DECLARE VICTORY AS LANDLORDS DENIED INJUNCTION IN CHALLENGE TO LOS ANGELES COVID-19 TENANT PROTECTIONS

Ordinances including 12-month repayment period and ban on eviction stemming from pandemic-related financial losses will remain in place

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – On Friday, a federal judge announced a ruling denying a preliminary injunction for the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles, keeping crucial citywide ordinances in place to protect tenants during the COVID-19 pandemic. Tenants’ rights organizations the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment Action (ACCE Action) and Strategic Actions for a Just Economy (SAJE) joined the federal lawsuit Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles (AAGLA) v. City of Los Angeles in July to defend the City’s emergency eviction protections and rent freeze. AAGLA’s lawsuit seeks to void the City’s validly enacted eviction protection and rent freeze ordinances, thereby allowing its members to engage in mass evictions during the pandemic. Public Counsel, the Western Center on Law and Poverty, Public Interest Law Project, and Susman Godfrey LLP represent ACCE Action and SAJE.

Interview: 'I listen to the people': the Moms 4 Housing advocate bringing activism to Oakland city council

Carroll Fife, known for helping homeless mothers take charge of a vacant California home, won a seat last week

The Guardian - Carroll Fife made headlines in the US last year as the radical architect behind Moms 4 Housing, a group of homeless mothers who bonded to commandeer a vacant home in Oakland, California, and put a face to the state’s housing and homelessness crisis.

Now, the vocal advocate for tenants’ rights is entering a new chapter in her activism. Fife won a seat on Oakland’s city council in last week’s election, beating a two-term incumbent. She will oversee an Oakland district that includes historically Black and underserved communities in West Oakland and more affluent areas with prime views of the San Francisco Bay.

Fife says she has no plans to change city government and “try to turn shit to sugar”; rather she plans to open the doors of city hall for other organizers to bring their demands to officials. The Guardian spoke to her about her ambitions for office, this year’s anti-police-brutality protests and her view on the presidential ticket.

She Couldn’t Afford Her Rent And Had Nowhere To Turn. That’s When She Joined A Tenant Union.

BuzzFeed - The documents arrived paper-clipped and folded in Tiana McGuire’s mailbox in early September. She owed three months’ worth in rent, $3,050, it said on the packet of pages that her landlord, Sullivan Management Company (SMC), had shoved into her and her neighbors’ mailboxes in their apartment building in Oakland.

“Pay rent in 15 days or quit,” the first page read.

This was the notice McGuire had dreaded ever since she stopped paying rent in June. Even though she knew evictions had been suspended in Oakland since late March, the letter made it clear: She had two weeks to pay the rent she owed or she had to vacate her home of the last seven years.