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Controversial Housing Bill, SB 827 (Wiener), Goes Down to Defeat!

April 18, 2018

A controversial state senate bill that aimed to increase housing near public transit NO on SB 827throughout the state will not move forward this year after it failed to get out of committee on Tuesday.

SB 827, introduced by Scott Wiener, a Democrat from San Francisco, which would have allowed developers to build five-story condominiums and apartment buildings near rail stops, even if local governments and zoning codes prohibited developments of that size, failed to get out of the State Senate’s Transportation and Housing Committee.

The Coalition for Economic Survival was joined by a long list of tenants’ rights organizations, community-based groups, legal services organizations, labor unions and California cities that included, Alliance for Community Transit-LA, Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) Action, Western Center on Law and Poverty, Community Coalition, League of California Cities, Sierra Club, Los Angeles County Democratic Party and cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco in opposing SB 827.

On the other side supporting the bill was California Apartment Association, California Association of Realtors, California Building Industry Association, Los Angeles Business Council, Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, California YIMBY

While everyone agrees that we need to build more housing, particularly affordable housing near transit, SB 827 was not seen as the answer by opponents. In fact many groups believe that SB 827 could have had an even more detrimental impact on our housing crisis by increasing gentrification, destroying existing affordable housing and displacing low income and working class tenants.

SB 827 would have eliminated cities’ ability to regulate issues such as parking requirements, density and building heights within a half-mile of transit hubs or within a quarter-mile of major transit corridors.

“Density for density’s sake doesn’t necessarily lead to affordability,” said State Senator California_State_CapitolBen Allen (D-Santa Monica).

Just like the Costa Hawkins Rental Housing Act and the Ellis Act, SB 827 would have handcuffed local government from addressing its particular affordable housing needs and result in imposing regulations that will increase displacement and gentrification.

At the hearing a long line of opponents in testifying portrayed the bill as a threat to neighborhoods and low-income residents and at one point began chanting: “827, what do we say? Kill the bill, kill the bill.”

Senate Transportation and Housing Committee Vote on SB 827

Sen. Jim Beall, D-San Jose (chair): No

Sen. Anthony Cannella, R-Ceres (vice chair): No

Sen. Benjamin Allen, D-Santa Monica: No

Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa: No

Sen. Ted Gaines, R-El Dorado Hills: Yes

Sen. Cathleen Galgiani, D-Stockton: Not voting

Sen. Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg: No

Sen. Mike Morrell, R-Rancho Cucamonga: Yes

Sen. Richard Roth, D-Riverside: Not voting

Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley: Yes

Sen. Andy Vidak, R-Hanford: Not voting

Sen. Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont: Not voting

Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco: Yes

 

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Wiener’s Senate Bill Will Lead to More Displacement and Loss of Affordable Housing

March 22, 2018

by LARRY GROSS

HOUSING CRISIS MADE WORSE – We all agree that we need to build more housing, particularly affordable housing near transit, but SB 827 introduced by Senator Scott Wiener (SF-D) is not the answer.

In fact, SB 827 could have an even more detrimental impact on our housing crisis by increasing gentrification, destroying existing affordable housing, and displacing low income and working-class tenants.

 

SB 827 would eliminate cities’ ability to regulate issues, such as parking requirements, density, and building heights within a half-mile of transit hubs or within a quarter-mile of major transit corridors.

Just like the Costa Hawkins Rental Housing Act and the Ellis Act, SB 827 would handcuff local government from addressing its particular affordable housing needs and result in imposing regulations that will increase displacement and gentrification.

SB 827 will allow for greater development near transit stops. Some of these areas consist of low-income neighborhoods and communities of color that already face extreme pressure from gentrification.

By imposing much higher density and taking over zoning from local governments, the bill could result in these communities losing protections that prevent economic pressures from driving people out of their homes and replacing single-family homes with luxury units that are not available to people with moderate or lowincomes.

The increase in the cost of land caused by the building of new luxury units can increase rents that further displacement. Displacement can force residents out into areas further from their jobs and city centers, increasing commute times and greenhouse gas emissions. While infill development near transit is necessary, this must be done in ways that protect existing communities and discourage displacement. SB 827 makes no accommodation to protect disadvantaged residents. 

Why the Recent SB 827 Amendments Are Meaningless 

SB 827 proponents say recent amendments address these concerns about tenants and affordable housing. THIS IS FALSE! 

  • Tenants have a Right to Remain by providing a 42-month subsidy in temporary comparable housing, and they can move back to the new units at the same rent they werepaying. But –
  • There is no funding or resources provided to enforce and monitor the temporary relocation process.
  • No definition of what comparable housing is or what it has to be.
  • No tenant protection if the new construction takes more than 42 months, or if the project is sold or financing dries up. The tenants are then left out in the cold.
  • Most tenants won’t return. Moving once is a tremendous burden, let alone twice.
  • If tenants move back at the same rent, there is no rent control or eviction protections, thus tenants would face displacement from rent hikes they can’t afford and unjust evictions. Right to Remain is really only Right to Return.
  • SB 827 would not undermine demolition protection for rent-controlled units and would provide affordable housing through inclusionary housing laws. But Los Angeles has neither demolition protections for rent-controlled buildings nor an inclusionary housing ordinance. Thus, there are no guarantees that new housing built under SB 827 would even be affordable for most of the people of Los Angeles or California.

(Larry Gross is the Executive Director of the COALITION for ECONOMIC SURVIVAL (CES) and an occasional contributor to CityWatch Email: contactces@earthlink.net.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.

Trump 2019 Budget Slashes Aid for Families Struggling to Pay Rent

February 12, 2018

by DOUGLAS RICE, Senior Policy Analyst, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

At a time when a historically high number of low-income households are struggling to BudgetCutpay rent and make ends meet, President Trump’s fiscal year 2019 budget proposes the most radical retrenchment of federal aid for such families since the U.S. Housing Act was first enacted in 1937.

The Trump budget would slash aid that helps millions of low-income working families with children, seniors, and others afford decent, stable homes. The cuts are particularly striking in light of the new, Republican-driven tax law that will mainly benefit the wealthy and corporations and that’s expected to add $1.5 trillion to deficits over ten years.

 

hud-protest-trumpOverall, the President requests $41.2 billion for Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) programs in 2019, $6.8 billion (or 14.2 percent) below the 2017 level, not counting losses due to inflation, and even further below what policymakers will likely approve for 2018. (The figures presented throughout this post include adjustments outlined in the Administration’s budget “addendum.”)

Cuts would hit a range of programs that provide critical aid to some of the nation’s most vulnerable people. For instance, the budget would:

 

 

  • Cancel Housing Choice Vouchers for about 200,000 low-income households, 9 Sec 8 Cutspercent of the number the program now serves. The budget requests $18.6 billion to renew vouchers that families are currently using. This is $900 million less than HUD estimates will be needed to renew vouchers in 2018, and nearly $1.9 billion less than will be required in 2019 due to rent inflation and other factors, based on CBPP estimates. The cuts would hit extremely low-income seniors, people with disabilities, and working families with children hard, undercut communities’ efforts to reduce homelessness, and undermine the housing stability that children need to thrive.

 

  • Cut public housing funding by $3.0 billion, or 47 percent, compared to 2017, not Ben Carson Cutscounting losses due to inflation. Public housing already faces more than $26 billion in repair needs such as fixing leaky roofs or replacing outdated heating systems and electrical wiring. Rather than proposing a realistic strategy for preserving this critical source of affordable housing — which has been a federal obligation since the program was created in 1937 — the Administration simply directs states and localities to fill the gap. Such massive cuts, which would follow upon deep cuts that have already been made since 2010, would further jeopardize the health and safety of public housing’s 2.2 million residents — a majority of whom are elderly or have disabilities — and sharply accelerate the loss of affordable units.

 

  • Eliminate the HOME Investment Partnerships, Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), and Choice Neighborhoods programs, which give flexible aid to low-income rural and urban communities. Altogether, low-income communities No HUD Cutswould lose more than $4.1 billion a year to improve basic infrastructure like streets and water and sewer lines, provide life-enriching services to youth and seniors, build and rehabilitate affordable housing for low-income residents, and promote economic development.

 

 

  • Eliminate the National Housing Trust Fund, which Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac currently fund through fees and which provided $219 million in 2017 towards state and local efforts to develop affordable rental housing for those who struggle most to pay the rent and make ends meet.

HUD BldgThe President’s budget proposes to reduce rental aid in other ways, too: it seeks congressional approval to make sweeping policy changes that would, among other things, sharply raise rents on nearly all assisted residents who are not elderly or disabled, and allow work requirements that would put many at risk of eviction and loss of rental assistance, thereby undermining the programs’ core purpose of helping low-income families rent decent housing at an affordable cost. (More on HUD’s work requirement proposal is here.)

 

These devastating cuts and policy changes would be imposed at a time when the number and share of low-income households facing severe challenges remain at historic highs, HUD Tenantsafter more than a decade of unprecedented growth driven in part by the failure of federal aid programs to keep pace with the problem. Since 2001, the number of renter households with what HUD calls “worst-case housing needs” — meaning renters with incomes below half the local median who don’t have housing assistance and pay more than half of their income for rent or live in severely substandard housing — has risen 66 percent, while the number receiving rental aid has grown only marginally.

 

HUD Secretary Ben Carson has spoken persuasively about the importance of having a stable, affordable home. In speaking about HUD’s efforts to help homeless people move from the street into a home, for example, he said:

We make sure a person gets [a] permanent place to stay — a safe place they won’t have to worry about losing every day. It’s amazing how such a haven can comfort and restore. It lends a sense of control to the individual, rebuilding their dignity and self-worth, which are essential cornerstones to self-improvement.

Under the President’s 2019 budget proposal, however, even fewer people will share the benefits of a stable, affordable home.

THE IMPACT ON CALIFORNIACalifornia

Housing Choice Vouchers cut                       -27,887

Public Housing funding cut                  -$96,238,030

HOME funding cut                                 -$129,203,619

CDBG funding cut                                  -$356,887,970

The Coalition For Economic Survival (CES) urges a NO vote on Measure S, on the March 7, 2017 Los Angeles City ballot

February 13, 2017

CES believes Measure S threatens to delay or stop projects that would otherwise provide affordable housing, and housing for homeless people.no-on-s

Measure S puts a two-year moratorium on development projects requiring certain zoning or height exemptions, and permanently prohibits developments requiring a general plan amendment. Thus, it could stop projects that would provide permanent supportive housing for people that are homeless – housing that voters approved with the passage of Measure HHH last November.

Clearly, there is a great need for government action to protect neighborhoods and much more action is needed to preserve our existing rent controlled and affordable housing stock. In fact, this lack of action at City Hall, no doubt, opened the door for Measure S to make it to the ballot.

measures-blocksMeasure S does have some good provisions. The City should be updating community plans. Obviously, in response to Measure S, the City Council just voted to back an effort to update community plans more frequently.

Additionally, developers should not be allowed to select environmental impact report consultants for their projects.

But, it is our belief that Measure S is a sledgehammer approach that does not provide a solution. In fact, it may make matters worse.

Measure S is not the answer and should be voted down.

Measure S

Does Not Stop Ellis Act evictions

Does Not Stop condo conversions

Does Not Stop rent controlled housing being demolished. In fact no-sit may led to the destruction of rent controlled buildings.

Does Not Create new affordable housing

Does Not Stop big developers from donating to elected officials

Measure S DOES Stop Affordable Housing from Being Built

 

Measure S would provide an incentive to developer to destroy more rent controlled buildings. 

A two year moratorium on development targeted in Measure S could steer developers towards  other  types of development such as more demolitions and conversions of rent controlled housing to condos resulting in further displacement of low and moderate income renters.

The Measure S moratorium, and its permanent prohibition on the City’s ability to issue general plan amendments, will be stop the building of affordable housing. Although the backers of Measure S claim to exempt affordable housing, Measure S does not actually exempt all 100% affordable housing projects from its reach, and would effectively stop 90% of city-sponsored affordable housing projects.

It is for these reasons CES Urges You to Vote NO on Measure S!

Affordable Housing Shortage Needs Long-Term Solution

January 5, 2017

jewish-journal-logo

Tuesday, January 5, 2017 – by BILL BOYARSKY

The growing shortage of affordable rental housing in Los Angeles is reaching crisis affhsgcheck1proportions among a group too often ignored — poor, elderly Jews fearing eviction or unaffordable rent increases.

They’ve found the plight of older people is not what we want to imagine. We’d like to think of seniors surrounded by supportive family, bolstered by Medicare, savings and investments, secure in the last years of their lives. Rather, their lives too often fit the description attributed to the late actress Bette Davis: “Old age ain’t no place for sissies.”

Death and estrangement may have taken spouses, children and other relatives. Illness and medical bills, beyond Medicare limits, may have drained savings, which also may have been looted by crooked insurance sales people, greedy relatives or unethical financial advisers. Many are disabled, receiving monthly disability payments that have not been adjusted for los-angelesinflation for more than 30 years. Some are Holocaust survivors, never fully recovered from their terrible experiences. The poor are hardest hit, of course. But others feel the strain of living on fixed incomes, which may have seemed sufficient on retirement day but now are not.

The rental housing shortage has a special resonance for Jewish seniors who often want to live in Jewish neighborhoods, close to friends, synagogues and kosher stores.

Larry Gross, executive director of the Coalition for Economic Survival, is a longpreservationaffhsgtime advocate for tenant rights. I’ve been interviewing him on the issue for more than 20 years. I asked him about the housing shortage, as it affected Jews and non-Jews alike. “Our crisis is not just a crisis, it is a catastrophe,” he said.   Los Angeles, he said, “has the distinction of being No. 1 in the nation” when it comes to high rents. “About 64 percent of renters pay unaffordable rent, paying more than 60 percent of their income for rent.” Angelenos, he said, would need to have a family income of $80,000 a year for an average two-bedroom apartment.

Gross said, “Regardless of who you are and where you live, if you live in a rent-controlled unit, you have a target on your back.”

CLICK TO READ FULL ARTICLE

Coalition for Economic Survival Calls for Restricting Airbnb in Rent Controlled Buildings in LA Times Article

January 3, 2017

la_times

Monday, January 3, 2017

From Immigration to Short-Term Housing to Street Vendors, L.A. City Hall Faces a Heavy Agenda

by Dakota Smith

Airbnb rules

The City Council is expected to finally pass a law to regulate short-term housing rentals.airbnb-sign

Despite the widespread popularity of companies like Airbnb, it’s still illegal in much of Los Angeles to rent out a residence for less than 30 days at a time, according to planning department officials.

Airbnb critics argue home-sharing companies cannibalize rental housing and changes the character of neighborhoods by filling apartments with travelers.

Under the proposal being considered by the council, housing covered by the city’s Rent Stabilization Ordinance — believed to be about 80% of the city’s rental stock — couldn’t be rented out on home-sharing companies.

Larry Gross, executive director of the Coalition for Economic Survival, said home-sharing companies are hurting L.A.’s stock of affordable housing. “They must be restricted,” Gross said of Airbnb.

Click to Read Full Article

CES Tenant Victory As Los Angeles City Council Gives Final Approval to Tenant Buyout Protection Law

December 15, 2016
joeltestifyingbuyout

CES Affordable Housing Lead Organizer Joel Montano testifies before the City Council prior to the vote.

On December 14, 2016, the Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously to adopt the Tenant Buyout Protection Ordinance. This was a culmination of months of effort by the Coalition for Economic Survival (CES) to win passage of this necessary tenant protection.

The need for the law came out of the growing tactics being used by unscrupulous landlords attempting to coerce tenants living in rent controlled units to move by offering them “cash for keys.” This then allows the landlord the ability to jack up rents once the tenant vacates the unit.

In addition, landlords are using these buyouts to avoid having to go through the Ellis Act Eviction Process or filing a Tenant Habitability Plan, two programs that provide tenants some safeguards against abuse. By avoiding these processes landlords can obtain higher rents without paying correct relocation amounts, providing tenants the legal amount of time to move, providing tenants temporary relocation housing while the building is being renovated, being limited in raising rents and being prohibited from re-renting the units for 5 years, depending on what their intentions are for the property.

cash-for-keysCES Affordable Housing Lead Organizer Joel Montano, testifying before the City Council prior to the vote stated, “Many tenants don’t know they rights, believe they have no choice and opt to take the money and leave. The longer you delay, the more tenants will be illegally forced out of their homes. We urge your vote to pass this ordinance today.”

LA City Council Member Gilbert Cedillo, who chairs the Council Housing Committee, was instrumental in guiding the proposal, developed by Los Angeles Housing + Community Development Department (HCIDLA), thought the Council to its eventual adoption.

The new law will do the following:

  • Require that landlords provide tenants with a written disclosure notice of the tenant’s rights under the Rent Stabilization Ordinance (RSO) with regard to eviction and relocation assistance, including contact information for the HCIDLA landlord/tenant hotline.
  • Allow tenants to rescind buyout agreements for any reason for up to 30 days after the agreements are fully executed.
  • Further provide that agreements that do not satisfy the stipulated requirements may be rescinded by the tenant at any time.
  • Require that landlords file copies of all buyout agreements with HCIDLA.
  • Provide tenants with an affirmative defense to an unlawful detainer and a civil remedy for actual damages and civil penalties against landlords who fail to comply with the buyout agreement regulations.
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