In the closing weeks of 2012, tenants in the City of Los Angeles were provided some holiday presents with two separate unanimous votes by the LA City Council to adopt laws protecting renters.
The Coalition for Economic Survival (CES) was the main advocate in securing these important laws.
First, On December 11, 2012, the Los Angeles City Council voted to extend the City’s Foreclosure Eviction Ordinance, proposed by LA City Council Member Eric Garcetti, to protect tenants living in rental properties not subject to the City’s Rent Stabilization Ordinance (RSO) from eviction on the grounds of foreclosure for another year. This Ordinance prohibits lenders from evicting any tenants in the City merely because of foreclosure on their landlords. Tenants living in rent controlled units have had these protections.
Days after the L.A. City Council then voted on December 14, 2012 in support of an ordinance introduced by Councilmember Paul Krekorian, in response to CES’ urging, to prohibit landlords from demanding that their tenants pay their rent only online.
The ordinance mirrors a state law (SB 1055) authored by California State Senator Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) that goes into effect on January 1, 2013, which provides protections to all California tenants. The LA ordinance will enable the Los Angeles Housing Department to enforce the law locally.
These two laws iced a successful years for CES in its fight for economic justice. In addition, in 2012 CES worked to win, achieve and/or provide:
• Safer and Healthier Rental Units
• Needed Repairs for Tenants
One thing that appears to define Mitt Romney’s, and now together with Paul Ryan’s, campaign for the White House, is that when they are a called out on their numerous draconian policy proposals they will either lie, run from it or flip-flop.
The most recent example of this is the Romney-Ryan outrageous claim that it is President Obama that is cutting Medicare, not them.
In attempt to deflect attacks and confuse voters, the Romney-Ryan is boldly stating that to pay for Obamacare, President Obama cut $700 billion from Medicare.
And while it is true that Obama made these cuts, what Romney-Ryan are refusing to reveal is that these cuts are coming solely from the healthcare industry, healthcare providers and drug companies in an effort to keep overall costs down and to help cut the deficit. None of the Obama cuts will in anyway impact or be passed on to Medicare recipients.
ABCNews.com fact-checked an earlier claim by Romney and found a Kaiser Family Health report that said the government will reduce Medicare spending, but won’t cut benefits. Kaiser said they expect Medicare spending to decrease because Obama’s Affordable Care Act will reduce fraud and overpayments to private insurers.
However, the Medicare plan under Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his running mate Rep. Paul Ryan will end Medicare care as we know it and will increase seniors health costs by $6,350 a year.
The Romney-Ryan plan demonstrates their commitment to defending the interests of corporate America and the super rich, by protecting the healthcare and drug industry and putting the entire burden of their $700 billion Medicare cuts on seniors.
The Romney-Ryan Medicare voucher plan to pay competing private insurance companies will shift the risk and increased costs for care from Medicare to the patient. Some patients would have to choose between paying for better coverage and having more money for food and other items.
If the bill for the hospital turns out to be much higher than expected, and the Medicare client had opted for a larger cost-sharing plan in exchange for not paying for wider coverage, they will face much bigger bills.
Judy Feder, a professor of public policy at Georgetown University, warned that competition among private companies is also problematic to Medicare beneficiaries. Under the current Medicare system, costs and risks are pooled, lowering costs for the sick and raising them for the healthy. Under Romney-Ryan’s plan, private insurers will favor healthy individuals, who will favor cheaper private plans, so it could force sick beneficiaries to choose the Medicare option as a last resort, she said.
“What that does is separate the healthy from the sick,” she said, adding that if those sick people are forced to choose Medicare, it will become more expensive for them because the program would be overwhelmed with sick, costly patients.
Feder said she is also concerned Romney-Ryan’s vouchers would be limited to an arbitrary rate of growth, meaning that if they can’t keep up with heath care costs, Medicare beneficiaries will have to pay the difference.
For voters, especially seniors, the choice could not be clearer.
Job Opening – Coalition for Economic Survival is Looking for Good Tenant Organizers to Hire As HUD Awards Affordable Housing Preservation Grants
Qualified and committed individuals are being sought to apply for Tenant Outreach and Education Organizer positions in Los Angeles.
In an effort to help low-income tenants receiving Section 8 project-based rental assistance and to preserve affordable housing, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development awarded nearly $5 million to 15 nonprofit organizations through HUD’s new Tenant Resource Network (TRN). The purpose of TRN is to make grants to qualified nonprofit organizations to assist, inform, educate and engage tenants living in certain Section 8-assisted properties at risk of losing affordability protections or project-based rental assistance.
“The Tenant Resource Network is designed to help working families who are at greatest risk of being
priced out of their rental market,” said Carol Galante, HUD’s Acting Assistant Secretary for Housing. “The whole purpose of this program is to empower families living in HUD-assisted housing, giving them the information and options they need to stay in their homes.”
The Los Angeles Center for Affordable Tenant Housing (LACATH) a non-profit community organization created and controlled by HUD tenants, which is a project of the Coalition for Economic Survival (CES), was awarded one of the 15 grants. CES, a leading Los Angeles tenants’ rights organization, has been organizing people for economic and social justice for the last 39 years.
LACATH and CES will assist tenants living in 2,501 HUD-identified units in 31 properties located in the Los Angeles Metro Area under the TRN program.
One goals of the TRN program is to assist tenants living in project-based Section 8 housing regarding their rights, responsibilities and options when a property owner ‘opts-out’ the program, pre-pays their mortgage, or repeatedly fails to meet HUD’s housing standards. The second purpose of the program is preservation of HUD-assisted affordable housing by engaging tenants in efforts to preserve eligible properties as affordable housing.
To achieve this LACATH/CES is in the process of hiring Tenant Outreach and Education Organizers. If you are interested and qualified you are encouraged to apply. If you know someone who would be interest, let him or her know.
The applicant MUST meet these qualifications: 1) MUST have the ability to communicate in English and Spanish or Korean, 2) Have Good writing, speaking and research skills, 3) A valid driver’s California license, insurance and a dependable car is a must, 4) Have the ability to work evenings and weekends. (On some occasions work will require irregular and long hours), and 5) Must be able to maintain accurate records and have the ability to write timely, required reports on work.
On the same day that U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal that would have challenged New York City’s rent stabilization laws, and possible threaten rent control laws nationwide, the California Court of Appeals made a significant ruling in regards to providing tenants eviction protections.
Tenant activists were greatly concerned that, even though rent control has been held constitutional numerous times before, given the conservative and pro-business nature of the current Supreme Court majority, the future of rent control could be at-risk.
The case involved landlords James and Jeanne Harmon, who have lost earlier court attempts to get rent stabilization laws thrown out.
The Harmons inherited a building with three rent-controlled apartments near Central Park on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. The Harmons say rent stabilization laws forces them to rent the apartments at rents 59 percent below market rate. They argue that by giving the tenants lifetime tenure with succession rights, the government has illegally taken their property.
A federal judge and the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York City threw out their lawsuit. Now the high court refused to review that decision.
CALIFORNIA COURT OF APPEALS MAKES MAJOR EVICTION PROTECTION RULING
In Anchor Pacifica Management v. Sharon Green, the California Court of Appeals ruled that a management company operating a senior apartment complex developed with assistance from a local redevelopment agency and subject to agency oversight must have good cause when it evicts a tenant upon expiration of the tenants’ lease.
An Amicus Curiae was filed for the Coalition for Economic Survival by Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County, Western Center on Law and Poverty, National Housing Law Project, on behalf of Defendant and Appellant Sharon Green.
In 2009, Anchor Pacifica Management served Sharon Green, who is disabled and receives federal income-supplement benefits, with a 90-day eviction notice. The notice did not provide any reason for the termination of her tenancy at the conclusion of her lease.
The City of Glendora Community Redevelopment Agency funded the building of Heritage Oaks Apartments by Anchor Pacifica, a private developer, which included affordable housing side aside units. Ms. Green lived in one of these affordable units.
Ms Green contended a trial court erred when it denied her motion to dismiss the eviction action on the ground it was without cause and it violated her right to due process under the state and federal constitutions or, in the alternative, failed to allow her to present this defense to the jury.
The Court of Appeals ruled in her favor.
Various labor unions and community groups, including the Coalition for Economic Survival demonstrated outside a Walmart store at Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza in South Los Angeles to demand higher wages, guaranteed health insurance and Walmart’s promise that it will invest profits in communities. The rally, sponsored by the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) and Warehouse Workers United took place on Thursday, April 19. 2012.
Speakers included Los Angeles County Federation of Labor Executive Secretary-Treasurer Maria Elena Durazo, Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Greater Los Angeles President Rev. Eric Lee, as well as Walmart retail and warehouse workers.
The rally was a culmination of a two-day National Action Summit organized by the UFCW, which brought together organizers from across the country working on the Making Change at Walmart, a campaign challenging Walmart to help rebuild our economy and strengthen working families.
Anchored by the United Food & Commercial Workers, Making Change at Walmart is a coalition of Walmart associates, union members, small business owners, religious leaders, community organizations, women’s advocacy groups, multi-ethnic coalitions, elected officials and ordinary citizens who believe that changing Walmart is vital for the future of our country.
As the largest private employer in the United States and the world, Walmart is setting the standard for jobs. That standard is so low that hundreds of thousands of its employees are living in poverty—even many that work full-time.
Because of its size and political influence, Walmart is affecting much more than just working conditions. Although it has gained much fanfare for its efforts in environmentalism, sustainability has mostly been a public relations campaign for Walmart.
Across the country, workers and communities are coming together as one to say enough is enough. It is time for fundamental change at Walmart.
The largest Walmart demonstration in the history of the U.S. is now being planned in Los Angeles on June 30, 2012 to protest the plans to open a new Walmart grocery store in L.A.’s Chinatown. The protest will send a loud, unified and strong message, “No Walmart in Chinatown.”
L.A. City Council Housing Committee Unanimously Votes for Motion to Prohibit Rent Only Online Demands by Landlords
The L.A. City Council’s Housing, Community Economic and Development (HCED) Committee unanimously voted on April 16, 2012 in support of a motion by Councilmember Paul Krekorian and seconded by Council Member Dennis Zine to prohibit landlords from demanding that their tenants pay their rent only online.
The motion is similar to a state bill, SB 1055, introduced by California State Senator Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) that would that require landlords throughout the state to continue to accept rent by check or money order.
Larry Gross, Coalition for Economic Survival (CES) Executive Director testified at the Committee hearing that “many of these tenants are seniors, disabled and low income, and have lived in their homes for decades and, thus, are paying the lowest rent. In addition, many of these tenants do not own computers, are not computer literate, and are living on fixed incomes.”
Gross charged that, this policy is nothing more than a scheme to target long-term, low-rent tenants for eviction to obtain higher rents.”
Last September, tenants living in over 30 buildings owned by Jones and Jones Property Management, received notices informing them that a new rent online only policy would begin in December. Tenants from the Woodlake Manor Apartments Tenants Association, a Jones and Jones property in South Los Angeles where the rent online only policy was instituted, attended the hearing and also testified. CES has been assisting the tenant association.
In a major surprise to some, representatives of the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles and California Apartment Association, as well as some individuals landlords testified in support of the motion and denounced the Jones and Jones rent online policy as unjust.
The motion will now head to the full City Council, which is expected to approve instructing City Attorney to draft the actual law.
In addition, Bet Tzedek Legal Services has filed a law suit against Jones and Jones on behalf of the tenants.
On April 12, 2012, the Appellate Division of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County ruled that Section 8 renters in the City of Los Angeles are protected by just cause eviction protections when landlords attempt to terminate their Section 8 voucher program (Housing Choice Voucher Program) contract. The court clarified that landlords may not terminate a Section 8 voucher contract in jurisdictions that have just cause eviction protections.
In the recent case of Tobias Crisales v. Monica Estrada, the landlord received a total of $950 per month in rent from the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles (HACLA) with the Section 8 tenant, Monica Estrada, paying $392 of the total rent.
The landlord, Tobias Crisales, wanted to evict the tenant in order to jack up the rent. The tenant was served a 90-day notice terminating the Section 8 contact citing it was for “business and economic reasons.”
After the 90 days were up the landlord then demanded the entire $950 rent from the tenant, an amount the tenant being of low income could not afford. The landlord than served the tenant with a 3 day pay or quit eviction notice. The tenant attempted to pay her portion of the rent, but the landlord refused to accept it.
The tenant was represented, pro bono, in this unjust eviction case by Michael Soloff of the high-powered downtown L.A. law firm of Munger, Tolless & Olson, together with Lane Nussbaum and Gurdeep Dhaliwal of the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles. The attorneys argued that the eviction was a violation of the Los Angeles Rent Stabilization Ordinance’s (LARSO) just cause eviction provisions.
The landlord was represented by the notorious eviction attorney, Dennis Block.
In making its ruling, the court cited the previousd major tenants’ rights victory in the 9th Circuit US Court of Appeals ruling in BARRIENTOS v. 1801-1825 MORTON LLC, that Los Angeles’ rent control law is not preempted by federal laws or regulations.
That decision, which has had a national impact, specially provided Coalition for Economic Survival (CES) Section 8 tenants living at Morton Gardens Apartments in Echo Park protection against their landlord’s attempt to evict them. CES had been assisting tenants at that building for many years.
In this case, Tobias Crisales v. Monica Estrada, the court found that, “The general ground of a business or economic reason as stated in the plaintiff’s 90-day notice to defendant does not fall within any of the enumerated categories for eviction under LARSO.
Accordingly, the plaintiff’s notice failed to terminate the Section 8 tenancy, and therefore the plaintiff’s subsequent three-day notice was improper, and the plaintiff was not entitled to possession of the premises.
The bottom line is that this is another huge victory for low-income Section 8 families that have been threatened and faced unjust evictions.