ACCE member Barry McCollough's mother, 71-year-old stroke patient Virginia Walker, was illegally locked out of her south Los Angeles home in October 2020, despite the fact that she had been paying rent to the city for her duplex, which was under the Rent Escrow Account Program (REAP). With support from Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson's office and coalition partners, ACCE Los Angeles emergency responders enlisted a locksmith to remove the front door locks from Ms. Walker's home.
CALIFORNIA - After nearly a year of fighting to cancel rent, the tenants' movement won a major victory with the passage of SB-91—the COVID tenant Relief Bill! SB 91 will forgive the unpaid rent of many, many renters who meet the income criteria for the program. If your landlord participates in the new program, your rent as a tenant will be forgiven by the state. If your landlord does not opt-in, then you as the tenant will be able to apply and receive the 25% of the back rent forgiven. While this is a huge step forward, there are some major loopholes in the program. We will continue the fight until we close the loopholes on the eviction moratoriums and rent forgiveness until all tenants are protected!
Investco/Watt tenants stopped a Trump-style scam that would exempt their trillionaire corporate landlord from paying property taxes under the guise of “providing affordable housing.” This tenant organizing recouped $500,000 of revenue for the City of Oakland in 2020 - doing our part to help with the City’s budget crisis!
CONTRA COSTA - ACCE Contra Costa ran a phone bank that contacted many thousands of voters in Contra Costa County that helped elect ACCE organizer, Melvin Willis, Claudia Jimenez and Gayle McLaughlin to the Richmond City Council, Taylor Sims to the Pittsburg School Board, ACCE member, Eduardo Torres to the Ambrose Park and Rec Board and Tamisha Walker to the Antioch City Council! We also helped pass Measure U in Richmond which is a business tax and Measure X, a countywide sales tax. Since the election we have met with all of these elected officials to move ACCE members’ agenda. We are also working closely with our coalition allies to make sure Measure U and Measure X funds are used to fund services our community needs.
In November 2020, 71-year-old ACCE member Marta Amaya was illegally locked out of her south Los Angeles home after coming home one day from grocery shopping. When she tried to enter through a window, she was struck in the face with the window by an unknown assailant. ACCE-LA emergency responders organized a rally and press conference outside of Ms. Amaya's home on Nov. 11. Responders called LAPD who got the landlord to let Ms. Amaya back inside to retrieve her belongings.
BERKELEY - ACCE Oakland staff members Dominique Walker and Leah Simon-Weisberg led the entire “Housing is a Human Right” Rent Board slate to victory, despite half a million dollars spent to oppose them by the National Association of Realtors.
ACCE Oakland helped to lead a powerful coalition of community, labor, and progressive organizations to oust Lynette “Tenant-Hater” McElhaney and elect our very own Carroll Fife to represent West Oakland (District 3) on the City Council. This same coalition successfully defended the At-Large seat, held by one of our strongest allies on the Council, from a challenger backed by the Brown/Harris/Schaaf political machine to the tune of over $400,000.
OAKLAND - The ACCE Youth Leadership Academy was a 5 week pilot program to explore ACCE's ability to train up youth organizers in our organizing model. 8 Oakland youth (from ACCE's membership base; several were children of current ACCE members), worked with ACCE 3 days each week for 5 weeks. Due to COVID, we were unable to engage the youth in our typical day-to-day community outreach/door-knocking work, but we did interactive trainings on topics like 1) Why We Organize (power in numbers, direct action & why elections actually matter); 2) Housing Justice (What is a commodity? What is real estate speculation? What is a land trust? How are housing justice and racial justice connected?) 3) Housing Rights (Rent Control, Costa Hawkins, Eviction Moratorium) 4) Power Mapping; 5) Strikes & Direct Action, etc. Each training included a skills and community engagement component, where youth learned and refined their version of an organizing rap, recruited tenants to attend trainings about their legal right to withhold rent during the pandemic, lobbied local and state legislatures, worked with ACCE tenant leaders to plan and execute direct actions, and created a video for the Cancel Rent campaign.
OAKLAND - ACCE members built a citywide rent strike, organizing strikes (of ACCE members) at 44 buildings. With many strikes still going strong, Oakland ACCE members collectively withheld over half a million dollars from the real estate industry in 2020.