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Affordable Housing

Making a Fortune on Misery: Lawyer Claims Over 200,000 Evictions

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Notorious Eviction Attorney Dennis Block Fuels Eviction Crisis

by Patrick Range McDonald for Housing is a Human Right

Eviction attorney Dennis Block boasts to have “evicted more than tenants than any other human being on the planet Earth.” He describes rent control as a “cancer,” and cheers on rising rents on Twitter. He’s made a fortune off the misery of others. Unsurprisingly, he’s playing a key role in fueling California’s growing eviction crisis.

Block has led the unscrupulous response to AB 1482, the anti-rent gouging bill recently signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom. The attorney 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. Block’s troubling scheme is a way for landlords to increase rents before renter protections in AB 1482 start on January 1, 2020. Landlords are listening to him.

In cities throughout Los Angeles County, scores of tenants are receiving sudden eviction notices. The eviction crisis has prompted the Los Angeles City Council to likely approve a citywide moratorium on evictions. Without naming him, L.A. council members, at a recent council meeting, singled out Block for fueling evictions. He has long had a notorious reputation among housing activists.

Based in Los Angeles, Block proudly claims that he’s evicted than 200,000 tenants since 1976 — a staggering number that’s larger than the population of Pasadena. His speciality? Kicking people out of rent-stabilized apartments so landlords can significantly raise rents with new tenants.

In 2007, the Los Angeles Times reported that Block attempted to evict a disabled woman from her rent-stabilized apartment in Hollywood because she was a few days late with her rent. Her lawyers said Block and the landlord’s true motivation was to remove her so they could bring in a new tenant and dramatically raise the rent. A judge stopped the tactic, and the woman was allowed to stay.

A constant self-promoter, Block regularly holds seminars, tapes podcasts, and posts on Twitter and Facebook, offering up eviction strategies, such as his most recent response to AB 1482. In 2018, Block was a vocal opponent of Proposition 10, the statewide ballot measure that sought to expand rent control in California.

Blocks hates renter protections — and tweets obsessively.

On June 5, 2017, when tweeting an article about rising rents and homelessness, the eviction attorney wrote glibly: “Rents going up! Good news for landlords.”

On May 9, 2017, when tweeting an article about East LA tenants and activists marching for rent control protections, Block dismissively wrote: “Rent control is really just Tenant Welfare and this cancer keeps trying to expand.”

On July 9, 2017, when tweeting an article about the street-level impacts of steep rent hikes by real estate investors, the eviction attorney nevertheless urged: “Investors – Raise your rents while you can.”

And on February 9, 2018, Block bitterly complained: “I am so frustrated with tenants demanding affordable housing…”

Block says evicting tenants is his “patriotic duty” — and it’s paid off handsomely. The attorney lives in exclusive Calabasas, where he owns a 7,779-square-foot mansion with 6 bedrooms and 6 baths and a tennis court that Zillow estimates to be worth $3.4 million.

Block appears to be drumming up even more business by advising landlords to evict tenants before AB 1482 kicks in.

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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