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L.A. Drafting Emergency Ordinance to Halt ‘No-Fault’ Evictions

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Housing Is A Human Right Applauds L.A. City Council’s Action on Eviction Crisis

LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles City Council voted today to authorize the city attorney to craft a pair of emergency ordinances aimed at halting “no-fault” evictions of people living in rental units built before 2006 and to bar all rent increases until Jan. 1, when a new state law goes into effect that provides similar protections.

Renter’s advocates say the measure is urgently needed to address a citywide eviction crisis that’s unfolding due to unscrupulous actions by landlords. Members of the council want to act quickly but the city attorney warned that the ordinance must be handled properly.

“We’re grateful to the L.A. City Council, especial council members Nury Martinez, Mitch O’Farrell, Curren Price, and Gil Cedillo, for their leadership in protecting tenants against greedy landlords,” said Housing Is A Human Right Director René Christian Moya. “We urge the council to finalize the legislation and put it to a vote as soon as possible. Tenants have no time to spare.”

Before today’s City Council meeting, Housing Is A Human Right and a broad coalition of housing justice organizations held a press conference at City Hall to urge elected leaders to respond immediately to an emerging eviction crisis. Landlords in Los Angeles, and throughout California, are evicting scores of tenants as a callous response to the passage of AB 1482, the anti-rent gouging bill that Governor Gavin Newsom recently signed into law.

Housing is a Human Right says controversial eviction attorney Dennis Block has been especially accused of fueling the eviction crisis. Block has publicly advised landlords to deliver no-fault evictions to long-time tenants and replace them with new tenants who must pay dramatically higher rents.

At the press conference today, Eviction Defense Network executive director and attorney Elena Popp said her legal clinic has been swamped by the eviction crisis. In recent days, she’s handled eviction cases for 37 buildings in the L.A. area.

“That’s 37 buildings,” said Popp. “Not 37 people.”

Gerson Sanchez, who spoke at the press conference, and his wife and two children live in a large apartment building in Los Angeles. He said that his landlord recently delivered eviction notices to everyone in the complex. Sanchez said he doesn’t know where he can find new affordable housing, and that his children are worried that they’ll become homeless.

“This situation has created a lot of stress,” said Sanchez.

At the L.A. City Council meeting, Councilmember Mike Bonin said the city is facing an eviction emergency. “The house is on fire,” he said. “We cannot allow people to be evicted.”

“If we don’t put our foot down, it’s going to be hundreds maybe thousands of buildings” of people evicted, Councilmember Koretz said. “Everything that we’ve done could be wiped out and we could end up with literally thousands of people on the streets.”

“We are possibly witnessing the unintended consequences of a law that was designed to assist our low-income earners and families who struggle on the margins,” Councilmember O’Farrell said. “We are in the midst of an affordable housing crisis, and as lawmakers we must do everything in our power to protect those renters who may face rent gouging from landlords who are trying to take advantage of a window of opportunity.”

“We did not fully anticipate that landlords would take measures to fight against AB 1482 in the worst possible ways, by trying to evict tenants who have done nothing wrong,” Councilman Curren Price said. “Just this week, my office heard from a number of tenants whose rent hiked more than 150% within the last year alone.”

The recent actions by predatory landlords in L.A. and throughout California only underscore the serious need for much stronger renter protections, said Housing is a Human Right, and that includes statewide rent control.

Housing Is A Human Right and AIDS Healthcare Foundation are currently leading the effort to place the Rental Affordability Act, an initiative that will expand rent control in California, on the 2020 statewide ballot. Already, more than 500,000 signatures have been collected in support of the Rental Affordability Act.

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