Skip to content

Landlords Charged With Voter Intimidation With Rent Increase Threats to Tenants if Prop 10 Passes

October 4, 2018

A Los Angeles-area landlord is telling tenants that the company will cancel a new rent increase if a California rent control ballot measure fails in November, according to a letter obtained by a tenants activist.

The letter, from Rampart Property Management, informs tenants of an apartment complex that their rents are increasing and cites Proposition 10, an initiative that would allow cities and counties to expand rent control, as the cause.

Larry Gross, executive director of the Coalition for Economic Survival, said a tenant of a complex in Hollywood brought the letter Wednesday night to one of the twice-weekly tenants’ rights clinics his organization holds. The tenant’s current rent, Gross said, is $1,550 and is scheduled to increase to $2,250 on Nov. 1.

Rampart Properties Management, which owns housing across Los Angeles County, is essentially blackmailing them into voting no on Proposition 10, the statewide ballot measure that will empower local communities to limit skyrocketing rents and address housing affordability.

Gross condemned the letter as attempting to influence tenants to vote against their self-interest.

“We see it as voter intimidation and extortion,” Gross said.

CES has contacted attorneys to explore the possibility of taking legal action if this is a violation of the law.

Both the Los Angeles Times and KCRW Radio have reported on CES’ allegations.

 

California Assembly Slams Door on Increasing Tenants’ Rights

June 5, 2018

Two bills to provide Just Cause and added Ellis Act eviction protections went down to defeat recently with many Democrats joining with all the Republicans in the state Assembly.

AB 2925, was introduced by Assembly Member Rob Bonta (D –Oakland).

The bill would have prohibited arbitrary “no-cause” evictions of California tenants was voted down by a 30 (all Republicans and 10 Democrats) to 15 (all Democrats) vote with 33 Assembly Members not voting (all Democrats), which is essentially a ‘no’ vote on May 31.

Particularly disturbing were the Democrats who joined with all the Republicans, in actually voting NO on AB 2925. They were Sydney Kamlager-Dove (newly elected), Anna Caballero, Ken Cooley, Jim Cooper, Adam Gray, Marc Levine, Evan Low, Jose Medina. Bill Quick and Rudy Salas.

YES: Bloom (D), Bonta (D), Chau (D), Chiu (D), Chu (D), Friedman (D), Gipson (D), Gonzalez Fletcher (D), Holden (D), Jones-Sawyer (D), Kalra (D), Mullin (D), Mark Stone (D), Thurmond (D), Ting (D), Rendon (D)

NOES:  Acosta (R), Travis Allen (R), Baker (R), Bigelow (R), Brough (R), Caballero (D), Chávez (R), Chen (R), Choi (R), Cooley (D), Cooper (D), Cunningham (R), Dahle (R), Flora (R), Fong (R), Gallagher (R), Gray (D), Grayson (D), Harper (R), Kamlager-Dove (D), Kiley (R), Lackey (R), Levine (D), Low (D), Maienschein (R), Mathis (R), Mayes (R), Medina (D), Melendez (R), Obernolte (R), Patterson (R), Quirk (D), Salas (D), Steinorth (R), Voepel (R), Waldron (R)

NOT VOTING: Aguiar-Curry (D), Arambula (D), Berman (D), Burke (D), Calderon (D), Carrillo (D), Cervantes (D), Daly (D), Eggman (D), Frazier (D), Cristina Garcia (D), Eduardo Garcia (D), Gloria (D), Irwin (D), Limón (D), McCarty (D), Muratsuchi (D), Nazarian (D), O’Donnell (D), Quirk-Silva (D), Reyes (D), Rodriguez (D), Rubio (D), Santiago (D), Weber (D), Wood (D)

Also on May 31, AB 2364, introduced by Assembly Member Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica) was voted down by the state Assembly by a 25 (all Democrats) to 36 (9 Democrats) vote with 17 (all Democrats) not voting, essentially a NO vote. The LA area Democratic member not voting: Burke (D), Caballero (D), Cervantes (D), Cristina Garcia (D), Gipson (D), Kamlager-Dove (D), Muratsuchi (D), Quirk-Silva (D), Santiago (D).

AB 2364 would have closed loopholes in the Ellis Act that have allowed some landlords to displace tenants and raise the price of rent control units. Though misuse of the Ellis Act has existed for decades, the current housing crisis has exacerbated the problem.

AB 2364 would have clarified the Ellis Act by setting one withdrawal date for a property,justice-denied by requiring the entire property to be deemed back on the market if one unit is returned, and by increasing the length of time for which a property owner can be penalized for re-entering the rental market. The measure also eliminates the cap on punitive damages and clarifies that these changes are only prospective. It would have provided all tenants a 1-year notice instead of limiting it to only seniors and disabled tenants.

 

YES:  Bloom (D), Bonta (D), Calderon (D), Carrillo (D), Chau (D), Chiu (D), Chu (D), Eggman (D), Friedman (D), Gloria (D), Gonzalez Fletcher (D), Holden (D), Jones-Sawyer (D), Kalra (D), Limón (D), Low (D), McCarty (D), Mullin (D), Nazarian (D), Reyes (D), Mark Stone (D), Thurmond (D), Ting (D), Wood (D), Rendon (D)

NOES:  Acosta (R), Travis Allen (R), Baker (R), Bigelow (R), Brough (R), Chávez (R), Chen (R), Choi (R), Cooley (D), Cooper (D), Cunningham (R), Dahle (R), Daly (D), Flora (R), Fong (R), Frazier (D), Gallagher (R), Gray (D), Grayson (D), Harper (R), Irwin (D), Kiley (R), Lackey (R), Levine (D), Maienschein (R), Mathis (R), Mayes (R), Melendez (R), O’Donnell (D), Obernolte (R), Patterson (R), Quirk (D), Salas (D), Steinorth (R), Voepel (R), Waldron (R)

NOT VOTING: Aguiar-Curry (D), Arambula (D), Berman (D), Burke (D), Caballero (D), Cervantes (D), Cristina Garcia (D), Eduardo Garcia (D), Gipson (D), Kamlager-Dove (D), Medina (D), Muratsuchi (D), Quirk-Silva (D), Rodriguez (D), Rubio (D), Santiago (D), Weber (D)

California League of Cities Thanks CES for Its Work to Defeat SB 827 (Wiener)

April 24, 2018

League-of-CA-Cities-logo

Larry,

Thank you and the Coalition for Economic Survival for your leadership and strong engagement in the effort to stop SB 827 this session.

By working together and with other organizations, we were able to ensure that the constituents we serve and the members of the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee understood the flaws in this legislation and why it would not have spurred more affordable housing construction.

We all agree that California desperately needs the construction of more affordable housing, near transit that serves our very low-, low- and moderate-income families. With SB 827 tabled for the year, let’s continue our work together to develop policy solutions that will address California’s affordable housing crisis. I look forward to our continued partnership.

Carolyn Coleman

Executive Director, League of California Cities

SB 827 Flawed

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

 

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.

Coalition for Economic Survival Blasts Appointment of Ben Carson as HUD Secretary

December 5, 2016

The Coalition for Economic Survival (CES) has expressed deep concern and outrage at President-Elect Donald Trump’s selection of Ben Carson to be the new Secretary of the ben-carson-hud-pickDepartment of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). CES does not believe Carson has the knowledge, experience, ability, compassion or commitment to the goals of HUD to lead the nation’s housing agency.

Over the last 4 decades, CES has been the leading organization in the Los Angeles area that has provided outreach, education and organizing assistance to tenants living in HUD subsidized housing in an effort to preserve this important and significant number of affordable housing units.

HUD oversees federal rental assistance programs that serve over 5 million of the country’s lowest income households, as well as administers tens of billions of dollars in community development, disaster recovery, and homeless assistance funding, enforces fair housing laws and acts as one of the largest mortgage insurers in the world. HUD plays a critical role in alleviating poverty, stabilizing and revitalizing communities, increasing the educational attainment and incomes of low-income families, and providing safe, affordable homes to deeply poor elderly or disabled families.

trump-carsonBut by his own admission, Carson has stated that he “feels he has no government experience, he’s never run a federal agency. The last thing he would want to do was take a position that could cripple the presidency,” when his name was suggest to head the Department of Health and Human Services.

Carson’s aide, Armstrong Williams, has stated recently, “He’s never run an agency and it’s a lot to ask. He’s a neophyte and that’s not his strength,”

Carson has been deeply critical of social welfare programs. He has characterized the country’s safety net of cash assistance, housing allowances and social services as a failure that perpetuates dependence on government.

He is known for offering provocative commentary on a wide range of issues, including comparing the modern American government to Nazi Germany in a March 2014 interview with Breitbart, and saying at the Voter Values Summit in 2013 that Obamacare is “the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery.”

In a 2015 opinion for The Washington Times, Carson compared an Obama administration’s “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing” regulation to “the failure of school busing” because it would place affordable housing “primarily in wealthier neighborhoods with few current minority residents.

The regulation is designed to end decades-old segregation by offering affluent areas incentives to build affordable housing. Critics, including Carson, called it government hud-tenantsoverreach.

CES Executive Director Larry Gross said, “Ben Carson is totally unqualified to be HUD Secretary. HUD is among the most important federal agencies tasked with ensuring compliance with the Fair Housing Act, and creating affordable, preventing housing discrimination and ensuring inclusive communities. Ben Carson has shown a complete disregard and open hostility to government efforts to confront racist and discriminatory practices in the housing industry.”

Gross further stated, “The appointment of Ben Carson indicates that Donald Trump and his admiration has a complete disregard for tenants’ rights and an absolute lack of commitment to ensuring America’s poor will have a roof over their heads that is decent and that is one they can afford. This clearly is not a holiday present low-income HUD tenants wanted.”

CES Testifies in Support of Tenant Protection Buyout Program Proposal

August 18, 2016

In response the growing tactic of unscrupulous landlords attempting to coerce tenants living in rent controlled units to move by offering them “cash for keys,” the Los Angeles City Council Housing Committee considered a Tenant Protection Buyout Program proposal on August 17, 2016.

Hsg Comm Buyout

Testifying (left to right) CES Member & Los Feliz Tenant Facing Landlord ‘Cash for Keys’ demands Mark Voyce and CES Director of Organizing Carlos Aguilar

The Los Angeles Housing + Community Development Department (HCIDLA) presented their proposal to amend the Rent Stabilization Ordinance to prevent tenants from entering into buyout agreements without a full understanding of their rights. The proposal is based on a similar program adopted by the City of Santa Monica.

The Coalition for Economic Survival (CES) and tenants currently facing landlord pressure to sign buyout agreements testified in support of the buyout proposal.

Landlords are using these buyouts to get tenants out without having to go through the Ellis Act Eviction Process or filing a Tenant Habitability Plan, two programs that protect tenants 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.

CES Director of Organizing Carlos Aguilar told the Committee, “While Ellis Act evictions spread throughout the city, we have seen an additional trend that greatly concerns us. Landlords are even bolder using more illegal tactics and offering cash for keys to get tenants out.”

Aguilar also said, For the most part, low income, immigrants and non-English speaking tenants are targeted for the lower illegal amounts. Many tenants don’t know they rights and believe they have no choice but taking the money and leaving.”

cash-for-keys

LA City Council Member David Ryu in a letter to the Committee stated, “The Rent Stabilization Ordinance was created to protect residents from excessive rent increases and limit reason for evictions. Yet, landlords will often offer “voluntary” buyout agreements to avoid these protections and skirt the law. As the real estate market has recovered, developers have been taking advantage of these “cash for keys” buyout tactics more frequently.”

The proposal would do the following:

  • Create a definition for a Buyout Agreement and Buyout Offer.
  • Require that landlords provide tenants with a written disclosure notice of the tenant’s rights under the 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 the tenant may rescind agreements that do not satisfy the stipulated requirements at any time.
  • Require that landlords file copies of all buyout agreements with HCIDLA’s Rent Stabilization Division.
  • 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.

The Housing Committee adopted the proposal and moved it to the full City Council for approval.

 

Click Here to Listen to CES’ Carlos Aguilar Tenant Buyout Testimony.

 

Hundreds March in Support of Justice for Grocery Workers Results in Victory

August 3, 2016

IMG_1009UPDATE: On August 10, 2016, grocery workers across Central and Southern California approved a contract with the companies which own Ralphs, Vons, and Albertsons Stores.

The contract contains raises of nearly a dollar an hour over the three year span of the deal, automatic increases to compensate for new minimum wage laws, retirement security, and improved notice of scheduling.

 

“What do we want? A contract!,” the crowd of hundreds chanted.

“And when do we want it?” Now!,” echoed off the buildings in LA’s Koreatown area.

On August 2, 2016, the Coalition for Economic Survival (CES) joined with other community, labor and religious groups to participate in a march and rally in support of Ralphs, Vons and Albertsons grocery workers represented by United Food and Commercial Workers Local 770 in their efforts to win a just contract for fair wages, benefits and working cIMG_1006onditions.

Participants met at Lafayette Park on 6th St and marched to the Ralphs and Vons, the corporations’ most profitable Southland stores, on the corner of 3rd and Vermont.

CES staff members were part of delegations that meet with the two store managers. CES Executive Director Larry Gross told the Ralphs manager, “I’m a loyal Ralphs customer, but my first loyalties are with your dedicated employees. We are in the most unaffordable city when it comes to housing with people, like grocery workers, paying more than 50% of their income IMG_1039to rent. Thus, it is imperative that grocery workers receive a just wage that enables them the ability to secure and maintain a roof over their families heads.”

Some 50,000 union grocery workers voted recently to authorize a strike against the supermarket companies. If a workable agreement isn’t reached by the August 8 deadline, a strike could occur as early as the following day.

What we want is a contract that helps makes ends meet,” said Rigo Valdez, Director of Organizing for UCFW Local 770, which represents workers from San Luis Obispo to San Diego.

Valdez said the lowest-paid employee makes $10.20 an hour, and some part-time employees are only guaranteed 24 hours a week. “That is certainly not enough to live off of,” he said.

IMG_1037

Rigo Valdez, Director of Organizing, UCFW Local 770

Negotiations with management are currently underway.

At the same time Ralphs made over $3.6 billion in profits last year. That equals $69 million every week.

Employees are looking for concessions in relation to compensation, hours, and scheduling, Valdez said. Currently, workers received their schedule for the following week on Friday, which is “not enough time to get advanced notice” to get a second job or to arrange childcare, Valdez said.

 

Another Tenant Victory as LA’s Foreclosure Eviction Ordinance is Extended

December 15, 2015

Evictions Bank-OwnedWith a unanimous 13-0 vote the Los Angeles City Council voted to extend the City’s Foreclosure Eviction Ordinance 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 two years. Tenants living in rent controlled units have had these protections.

Multi-family rental units built after 1978 and all single-family home rentals are not subject to the City’s rent control law.

The Ordinance extension approved on December 15, 2015 prohibits lenders from evicting any tenants in the City merely because of foreclosure on their landlords.

The law requires landlords seeking to recover possession of a rental unit from a tenant, must comply with all the RSO requirements and provisions for eviction, including the payment of relocation fees for no-fault evictions. Since the passage of the Ordinance, more than 59,000 properties containing over 79,000 units have been foreclosed on in the City.

Stop Evicting Tenants ImageThe Foreclosure Eviction Ordinance was originally passed on December 17, 2008 and was nation’s first Foreclosure Eviction Moratorium. It has been extended every year since in response to a national crisis that has not subsided.

The Coalition for Economic Survival (CES) advocated for the original law in 2008 and every extension since then.

CES Executive Director Larry Gross stated, “The foreclosure crisis and its impact on hardworking Americans is a national disgrace. It’s especially unjust for the forgotten victims — tenants.

They’ve done nothing wrong. Paid their rent on time. But, without this protection these heartless banks could evict evict them simply because they’re living in foreclosed rental property.

Gross went on to say, “We applaud the Council in providing national leadership by enacting the strongest tenant foreclosure protections in the country. It provides tenants with a little bit of hope and justice. This action is an action needed to help keep these banks accountable. It truly is a tenants’ rights victory.”

The LA Housing and Community Investment Department Foreclosure EvictionNotice_09049Registry data for 2015 indicates that the foreclosure crisis continues to affect City residents and neighborhoods. A total of 10,381 properties were registered in the City’s Foreclosure Registry from January through November 8, 2015, comprised of 4,273 first time property registrations and 6,108 re-registered properties (with a notice of default and/or foreclosure from 2014). This reflects a ten percent increase from 2014 registrations, which totaled 9,431.

CES Exec Dir Larry Gross on KCRW’s “Which Way LA?” on LA’s Earthquake Retrofit Mandate & Rents

October 8, 2015
Landlords, Tenants and Earthquake Safety – KCRW 89.9 FM – “Which Way LA?” With Warren Olney Aired on October 7, CES on WWLA2015

When San Francisco apartment house owners retrofit their buildings, the entire cost will be passed on to their tenants. City Councilman Gil Cedillo has promised that won’t happen in Los Angeles. Today, his committee is taking up what could be the most extensive retrofitting requirements in California history. Who should bear the cost of making those buildings earthquake safe?

Guests:
Lucy Jones, US Geological Survey (@DrLucyJones)
Larry Gross, Coalition for Economic Survival (@la_ces @cesinaction)
Jim Clarke, Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles (@AptAssocGLA)

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE PROGRAM

Why L.A. Tenants Will Get Stuck With Rent Hikes for Quake Retrofitting

September 24, 2015
Wednesday., September 23, 201

We need to address the threat of earthquake,” says Larry Gross, executive director of the renters rights group Coalition for Economic Survival, “but we don’t want to create an economic earthquake for a tenant who won’t be able to afford this increase and will likely be displaced from their home.”

It could cost up to $130,000 to extensively inspect — including partially dismantling — and then strengthen each building. A landlord’s group puts the cost at about $5,000 for a single unit. Under the approved ordinance, owners can pass the entire cost on to renters over a five- to 10-year span.

Gross, of the Coalition for Economic Survival, says that while this is the worst time to allow citywide rent increases, reality suggests $38 is a good compromise.

“Clearly, given the situation where tenants in this city are now mostly paying unaffordable rents, and most are paying upward of 50 percent of their income to rent, we don’t like the idea of one more dollar in rent,” Gross says. “The fact is that right now the current law states tenants could be hit with upward of a $75 increase and would have to bear the burden of the retrofit costs. One hundred percent could be passed on. That’s a fact.”

Based on the $38 monthly maximum, the average L.A. tenant would see an increase more like $18, for a range of $1,800 to $3,800 in hikes if somebody rents in L.A. for a decade.

“This proposal definitely strives to establish some degree of equity in regards to who pays for the costs,” Gross says. “We’re doing everything we can to try to soften the blow, because we’ve seen the blow coming.”

READ THE FULL STORY

Weekly Earthquake Story Picture

KNX 1070 NewsRadio Report: Who Should Pay for Earthquake Retrofitting — Tenants or Landlords?

September 21, 2015

KNX_1070_LogoReporting by: David J. Singer, KNX 1070 0n Thursday, September 17, 2015

LOS ANGELES (CBS) — The Los Angeles City Council Housing Committee considered a Housing and Community Development Department proposed compromise in which building owners and renters would share the financial burden equally of earthquake retrofit cost that will be mandated for some 13,ooo concrete and soft story apartment buildings in Los Angeles. Under the plan, tenants would face rent increases over a 10-year period, with a maximum increase of $38 per month.

KNX Newsradio’s David J. Singer talks with Coalition for Economic Survival Executive Director Larry Gross on the impact this could have on tenants.

Gross said, “Clearly everyone wants to see these buildings made safe. But the key question here is who pays, how much and for how long.

091715_Retrofit

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO REPORT

KPCC AirTalk Radio Debate on Who Should Pay for Earthquake Retrofitting With CES Executive Director Larry Gross

September 21, 2015

KPCC-logo-CA new proposal at L.A. City Hall says the cost of retrofitting buildings vulnerable to earthquakes should be a shared financial burden of tenants and property owners.

According to an L.A. Times article, Councilman Gil Cedello said the way costs ought to be shared required further review. Officials from the Los Angeles Housing Department recommend a cap for rent hikes at $38 a month for five or more years to cover the costs of AirTalk_logoretrofitting.

How do you think the cost should be handled among tenants and property owners?

KPCC’s AirTalk With Larry Mantle – Program Aired Thursday, September 17, 2015.

Guests:

Larry Gross, executive director Coalition for Economic Survival, a tenant advocacy group

Jim Clarke, Executive Vice President of Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles

CLICK TO LISTEN TO PROGRAM

Tenants Protest Ellis Act Evictions by Affordable Housing State Official

May 28, 2015

Jacobs DemoMatthew Jacobs is the Chair of the California Housing Finance Agency, a state agency with a mission to support the needs of renters and home-buyers by providing financing and programs that create safe, decent and affordable housing opportunities for low to moderate income Californians.

Matthew Jacobs is also a developer who recently acquired four rent controlled apartment buildings in the Beverly Grove and Fairfax areas of Los Angeles. Jacobs is evicting 17 families living in these buildings under the dreaded state Ellis Act to build 19 4-story houses under the city’s Small Lot Sub-Division Ordinance that will each sell for well over $1 million.

“That gets me, too. I mean, the fact that we have very little affordable housing, and they’re not adding to it,” said Tenant Leader Steven Luftman.

Tenants facing eviction and their supporters protested in front of their landlord’s home, assisted by Coalition for Economic DemoJacobsShameSurvival, on May 27. Ironically, Jacobs lives blocks from the buildings on North Flores he’s demolishing.

In a phone response to a KPCC radio reporter’s question regarding the tenants’ protest in front of his home, Jacobs responded, “To build denser LA, some people need to be displaced.”

The Ellis Act is a California law enacted in 1985, which ostensibly allows landlords to “go out of business” and evict tenants in rent-controlled properties.

Alarmed by the rash of Ellis evictions like Jacobs’ projects and the

Rent Controlled Apartments Matthew Jacobs is Destroying

Rent Controlled Apartments Matthew Jacobs is Destroying

resulting destruction of historically significant housing stock, the Mid City West Community Council, a City-certified neighborhood council, voted unanimously to ask the City Council to forbid demolitions in Beverly Grove and other nearby areas until new regulations can be passed to protect the tenants and the buildings in which they live.

“I’m a widow and a senior citizen, being displaced from my home of twenty-two years;” said Cynthia Cohn. “Apartments in my neighborhood are fifty percent more expensive, and none accept dogs.”

The historic buildings facing demolition are 118 through 124 North Flores Street and 750 through 756 North Edinburgh Avenue.

Calif Housing Finance Agency Chair Matthew Jacobs said, “To build denser LA, some people need to be displaced.”

Calif Housing Finance Agency Chair Matthew Jacobs said, “To build denser LA, some people need to be displaced.”

Since 2001 the City of Los Angeles has lost nearly 19,000 rent controlled affordable housing units due to the Ellis Act, according to the LA Housing and Community Investment Department.

Luftman stated, “My message (to other tenants) is to get active now.”

Tenants and the Coalition for Economic Survival are urging people to contact Governor Jerry Brown to demand that he remove Matthew Jacobs from the California Housing Finance Agency. Given that Jacobs is destroying affordable housing and displacing low income and working tenants to build housing for the rich, they believe that this man has no moral right to sit on the board of an agency dedicated to providing affordable housing for the people of California.

Contact Governor Brown at 916-445-2841 or by email to tell him to remove Jacobs now.

Click for More Pictures of Protest at Matthew Jacobs Homes.

Click to View KNBC – Channel 4 News Report on the Evictions.

Ellis Act Evictions in L.A. on the Rise – Report on 89.3 KPCC-FM

April 27, 2015

Evictions by Ellisby Leo Duran – Friday, April 24, 2015

Evictions in Los Angeles through the Ellis Act rose 235 percent, according to recent figures from the LA Housing and Community Investment Department.

Landlords cleared out 725 apartments in 2014, compared to 308 the year before.

Ellis Withdrawals Graph“We’re slowly seeing a trend that started in 2009,” says general manager Rushmore Cervantes.

The Ellis Act, passed by the state legislature in 1985, allows landlords to get out of the rental business by evicting their tenants from rent-controlled buildings, so long as they either sell the building, convert the units into condominiums, or let the building sit vacant for a minimum of five years.

Landlords don’t typically use the Ellis Act to sell their property when the real-estate market is weak. When the market is strong, they can cash in. Not surprisingly, the data from the city shows that Ellis evictions were highest when the the housing market was strong. As the housing market rebounds in Los Angeles, Ellis evictions, once again are on the rise.

“A lot of these landlords are seeing this as their way out of the market, and this is a quick and easy way to do it,” says USC’s Raphael Bostic.

“Every rent-controlled tenant should be worried,” warns Larry Gross from the Coalition for Economic Survival, “and it’s going to get worse.”

Gross says many of these evictions are happening in a Nike “swoosh” shape across Los Angeles – they span from Venice, cut through Hollywood and Koreatown, and encompass parts of Silver Lake and Echo Park. There is also a hotspot in the San Fernando Valley around Sherman Oaks, Studio City and Valley Village, which he says affects many who work in the entertainment industry.

“The number of SAG-AFTRA members that were being displaced,” he says, “I hadn’t seen anything like that.”KPCC-logo-C

Recent Ellis Act evictions are still are far cry from a peak in 2005 when landlords cleared out 5,425 units. However, Bostic says to expect numbers to climb in the coming years because of the strong housing market in Southern California, where demand greatly exceeds supply.

“This is just another sign that there’s real pressure in affordable housing in Los Angeles,” he says.

 

%d bloggers like this: