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Affordable Housing

Human Rights Activist Dolores Huerta’s Words of Wisdom at Cal State LA

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Dolores Huerta’s Hard-Earned Wisdom

by Patrick Range McDonald

LOS ANGELES (Housing Is A Human Right) — A few days ago, Dolores Huerta, the indefatigable, 89-year-old labor union and civil rights activist, wanted to share her wisdom.

She stood inside a ballroom at Cal State L.A., on a platform, with a large screen behind her, on which a slide had been projected by a previous guest speaker.

It was titled, appropriately but without her planning, “Working Together.” Before Huerta, a crowd of around 200 — many of whom were college students — sat around large round tables, and listened intently.

“I was reading the New York Times — the business section,” she quipped at one point, talking about greed in corporate America. “I call it the crime report.”

Huerta’s wisdom has been hard earned. In the 1960s, she co-founded, in California, the United Farm Workers union with Cesar Chavez. They were not welcomed by an agricultural industry known to exploit its employees, many of whom were Latino immigrants.

Huerta and Chavez constantly demanded better wages and working conditions, constantly battled powerful forces, and were constantly in danger.

In the mid-60s, Huerta and Chavez started the National Boycott of California Table Grapes, which she directed. It became a nationwide cause célébre. More importantly, the strike won a three-year collective bargaining agreement with the once inflexible grape industry. She continued organizing and standing up for the poor and vulnerable. 

In 1988, Huerta was severely beaten by a baton-wielding police officer, in San Francisco, during a non-violent protest. Ribs were broken and her spleen was removed; she barely survived. As the years went on, Huerta championed women’s, children’s, and LGBT issues.

Almost ninety, she continues her work through the Dolores Huerta Foundation. For her decades of striving to make America more fair and just, President Barack Obama awarded Huerta, in 2012, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States.

Huerta came to Cal State L.A. to discuss gentrification at “Empowering La Comunidad,” a town hall for the Latino community sponsored by Housing Is A Human Right, the housing justice organization. In L.A., an ongoing gentrification crisis has slammed longtime Latino residents in such neighborhoods as Boyle Heights and Highland Park.

In Hollywood, over the years, at least 12,000 Latinos have been forced out of their homes. Huerta believed people needed to organize — and fight back.

“We have the knowledge, we have the advocates,” she said, “but what do we need? We need the people’s support. Because the only way we’re going to beat all of these millionaires that are fighting against us is with the people.”

She thought back to her time with the United Farm Workers.

“We have a lot of young people here,” she said. “How many of you have heard about the grape strike?”

Numerous people raised their hands.

“There were 40 people,” she recalled. “Forty young volunteers like yourself. 40 people, 40 farmworkers. In a year and a half, they were able to organize 17 million people to boycott grapes. Can you imagine?”

The audience broke out in applause.

“Now we have more than 40 people in this room,” she said.

The crowd laughed, knowingly.

“So if we take advantage right now of the activity around the (2020) census and the elections, we can organize enough people that we need to be able to get what we need in terms of protecting our communities from gentrification.”

People nodded, and Huerta shared more hard-earned wisdom.

“It’s not going to happen unless we do the work,” she said. “With the farm workers, people would say to us, ‘How are you going to organize farm workers? They’re poor, they’re not citizens, they don’t speak English — how are you going to organize them?’ And the way we organized them was by saying to them: ‘You know what? You’ve got the power. It’s in your person, and that’s all the power you need.’”

Again, nods around the room.

“But one thing that we do know from our own experience,” Huerta said, “is that if we do not do the work, it’s not going to happen. That nobody is going to come and do it for us. That we have to be the ones responsible to do the work.”

Towards the end, she shared one more bit of wisdom, but it was not hers.

“Mahatma Gandhi said this,” she recalled, paraphrasing. “‘We have enough resources to fill the need. We will never have enough resources to fill the greed.’”

The crowd gave its loudest ovation.

Patrick Range McDonald was a longtime staff writer at L.A. Weekly, where he won numerous awards. He’s now an advocacy journalist for Housing Is A Human Right.

(Reprinted with permission)


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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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