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Affordable Housing

Advocates Pass Signature Thresholds, Ratcheting up Rent Control Fight

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SACRAMENTO — AHF is continuing to battle to return the ability of local communities to enact rent control on buildings currently prohibited by the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act of 1995 — the state law that severely limits the scope of rent control measures in California.

Enough signatures have been collected to force the legislature to consider the matter. They say if action is not taken, another set of signatures has been collected to take the matter directly to the ballot box.

In just two short months, rent control advocates in California have collected over 325,000 signatures. The total number collected so far by the organizations leading the effort, Housing Is A Human Right and AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), is slightly more than half the 623,212 signatures needed to qualify the initiative for the November 2020 California election.

Backers of the initiative intend to collect over 915,000 voter signatures as a cushion for the state’s signature verification process.

On August 8th, initiative backers announced they had collected 31% of voter signatures needed (195,309 signatures)—well above the 25% benchmark of signatures that forces the California State Legislature to hold joint legislative committee hearings in Sacramento on the initiative.

These required hearings must be held no later than 131 days before the November 2020 election (by or before June 25, 2020).

However, backers of the initiative are also urging legislators in Sacramento to act independently and act now to fix the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act of 1995, the state law that severely limits the scope of rent control measures in California.

“There are still a few weeks remaining in the 2019 California legislative session and we strongly urge legislators to now work to craft alternative legislation to amend the Costa-Hawkins Act to allow for stronger rent control measures in more communities statewide,” said Michael Weinstein, president of AIDS Healthcare Foundation.

“Costa-Hawkins is a harmful bill..that places a stranglehold on nearly all California communities…” —  Michael Weinstein, President of AHF

In a further comment, Weinstein added, “The Costa-Hawkins is a harmful bill—one passed by just one vote in 1995—that places a stranglehold on nearly all California communities, preventing them from instituting proper rent control measures in their jurisdictions.

Make no mistake: if the legislature fails to enact meaningful rent reforms before June 25, 2020, we will take the Rental Affordability Act to the November 2020 ballot.”

For years, seniors, families, teachers, recent college graduates and millions of other renters have been struggling with a devastating housing affordability crisis, but the California State Legislature has refused to substantively respond to the persistent problem of skyrocketing rents.

The Rental Affordability Act will allow local governments to expand their rent control policies to housing that is more than 15 years old; allow local governments to limit the rent increase for a new tenant who moves into a vacated unit—a landlord can raise the rent by no more than 15% over the next three years; and exempts the owner of one or two homes from any rent control law.

“Millions of Californians desperately need relief as they are being forced to pay unfair, excessive rents simply to keep a roof over their heads,” says René Christian Moya, director of Housing Is A Human Right.

He believes that the rent is still too damn high, and these ever-increasing rents also contribute to a sharp spike in homelessness. “As one of our ballot initiative signature gatherers aptly noted: ‘Rents Up, tents up!’ We need urgent solutions to our housing affordability crisis and the Rental Affordability Act is one of those key solutions.”

A recent poll conducted by A/B Consulting and commissioned by AIDS Healthcare Foundation found that 75% of voters who are likely and extremely likely to vote in next year’s General Election said they were likely to support the Rental Affordability Act.

Affordable Housing

Senior Tenant Sues Santa Monica Landlord to Stay in Her Home

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photo by Benjamin Massello

SANTA MONICA (Santa Monica Daily Press)– A 72-year-old woman with disabilities who has lived in the same Santa Monica studio for 38 years has filed suit in Los Angeles Superior Court against her landlords.

In the suit filed Monday, St. James v. Bills, tenant Zandra St. James charges that her landlord violated state law by refusing to accept her housing choice voucher to offset her monthly rent. As a result, St. James faces eviction.

St. James’ apartment is rent-controlled, but with annual incremental increases. The rent has risen to the point that it now demands more than 90 percent of her monthly Social Security disability check.

She was awarded a housing choice voucher in 2019 and immediately sought to use the subsidy to help pay her […]

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Affordable Housing

Apply for Affordable Senior Housing at LGBT Center’s McCadden Campus

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LOS ANGELES — The City of West Hollywood is getting the word out that applications for new affordable senior housing will be accepted by the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Senior Services program for the forthcoming McCadden Campus senior housing site, which will offer 98 new, affordable, low-income units designed for people who are ages 62 and over.

The LGBT Center’s McCadden Campus senior housing is anticipated to be completed in fall 2020 and will feature studios and one-bedroom rentals.

There will be fully accessible units for people with mobility hearing, and/or vision disabilities. Future residents will be welcomed into the LA LGBT Center’s wide range of community programming specializing in HIV+ wellness, gender identity, and LGBT social and cultural support.

Other services will include meals, case management, employment training, and more.

The new senior housing site will be located adjacent to the Center’s Harry & Jeanette Weinberg Senior Center at the Anita May Rosenstein Campus on N. Las Palmas Avenue in Hollywood, just east of the City of West Hollywood, and is a project of the Los Angeles LGBT Center and Thomas Safran & Associates.

The City of West Hollywood contributed $2.1 million to the project from the City’s local housing trust fund. Applications will be accepted by the Los Angeles LGBT Center until Wednesday, March 4.

There will be three opportunities for community members to submit applications in person in the City of West Hollywood:

  1. Monday, March 2 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the West Hollywood Park Auditorium, located at 647 N. San Vicente Boulevard; and
  2. Wednesday, March 4 from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the West Hollywood Library Community Meeting Room, located at 625 N. San Vicente Boulevard.

The City of West Hollywood has a decades-long commitment to providing social services, health education, and information to community members in-need and to improve quality of life. The City’s Social Services Division and Strategic Initiatives Division budget more than $5 million annually to support programs that impact thousands of people in West Hollywood through local nonprofit organizations.

The City’s Aging in Place/Aging in Community program was launched in 2016 to improve the quality of life and well-being of older adults in the City. For additional information, please visit weho.org/aging.

The City of West Hollywood’s Rent Stabilization & Housing Division promotes equity and inclusion through access to housing, and by working to change the underlying systems leading to and perpetuating disparities.

The Division provides a breadth of information and services to both tenants and property owners, including housing counseling and information materials. The City facilitates the development of new housing with an affordable component, the rehabilitation of existing housing for lasting affordability, and the development of mixed-use projects that include affordable housing units. For additional information, please visit weho.org/housing.

For more information about programs and services for seniors in the City of West Hollywood, please contact the City of West Hollywood’s Social Services Division at (323) 848-6510 or visit www.weho.org/wehocares.

For more information about McCadden Campus senior housing, please contact the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Senior Services program by calling (323) 860-5830 or visit http://mccaddencampus.

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Affordable Housing

CA Lawmakers Say Limiting Development Fees Combats Housing Crisis

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Photo by Sacha T'Sas

SACRAMENTO (AP) — In their latest bid to combat California’s affordable housing crisis, state lawmakers on Monday announced a package of bills to limit development fees that can add tens of thousands of dollars to the price of a new home.

However, local governments depend heavily on the fees, which typically are used to pay for schools, roads and parks. Lawmakers said they were discussing those needs but have not yet decided how the fees might be replaced.

The fees are “vital to local government’s ability to pay for the infrastructure that residents living in new developments need,” Chris Lee, legislative representative for the California State Association of Counties said in a statement. He said counties are glad to […]

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