Tenants Together Supports Four Tenant Protection Bills

Of all the current housing bills in the state legislature, four stand out with the potential to provide meaningful protections to tenants. To write in support of these bills, follow these steps so that your organizational/individual position will be recorded before their respective committees. 

Steps to Submit Organizational Positions on Senate and Assembly Bills: 

STEP ONE: If you have not yet done so, please create an advocate account with the state legislature. It is a free and relatively brief process. Creating an account is now a necessary step for all organizations to go on record in support or opposition to any legislation. Note: it is NOT the same as registering as a lobbyist. Please go to https://calegislation.lc.ca.gov/Advocates/faces/index.xhtml to create an advocate account.

STEP TWO: Once you have logged on to the state ‘advocate’ portal you can then go on record to support SB/AB __. Select the bill from the main menu, direct your message to the respective committee, and select your position ("support", in the case of these bills).

Find the bills we support and their respective committees in our description below.

*The Senate Judiciary Committee is not using the Advocates portal at this time. Details on who to email about your position are listed below.

1. SB 529 (Durazo): The Tenants Right to Organize Bill 

Across California, tenant organizers are mobilizing for tenant protections in their communities. Some tenants, like Betty Gabaldon and Eliza Deed, formed tenant associations in their apartment complexes to fight against neglectful management practices and unjust rent increases. In return, their landlords served them with eviction notices for "no cause." “It’s because I’ve been organizing and more tenants are coming to me to share their issues,” Deed said. “And because I’m trying to be a voice for the community." 

With Senator Durazo's Right to Organize Bill, sponsored by Tenants Together, tenants can organize with their buildings and communities for safe, affordable housing, without fear that they will be wrongfully displaced. The bill grants just cause protections to tenants who are members of tenant associations, and establishes a protected timeline if those tenants organize a rent strike in pursuit of their tenants rights. Landlords who refuse to bargain in good faith would face heightened statutory penalties. 

While retaliation laws already exist in California, it’s nearly impossible to prove retaliation, and tenants just can’t take the risk of losing their homes in this housing crisis. Worse yet, California allows a landlord to evict a tenant without even stating the reason for eviction. Retaliatory evictions hide in that loophole and we are trying to close it. The only way to stop retaliatory eviction is to make landlords state the reason for eviction. That’s not too much to ask; it’s common sense.

Support the right to a #UnionAtHome by writing a letter to your senator today: https://www.tenantaction.org/sb529

To submit organizational/individual endorsement letters to the Senate Judiciary Committee, send your letters to [email protected]

2. SB 18 (Skinner): Funding for tenant legal aid and emergency financial assistance 

Tenants Together's May 2018 report "California Evictions are Fast and Frequent" found that around 90% of tenants facing eviction do not have access to an attorney. As a result, tenants are left alone to file technical, complicated legal paperwork within a very short time frame; over half of all cases are filed within one month. It's no wonder then that 40% of all tenants who lose their eviction cases receive default judgements, meaning that tenants do not show up to court to defend themselves even if their eviction is illegal.

SB 18 is based on Keep Oakland Housed, a program focused on preventing homelessness before it begins. Financial assistance from the program goes to tenants on the verge of eviction, helping them pay back rent, secure relocation fees, or make security deposits for new housing. Legal aid agencies, like the East Bay Community Law Center, also receives program funding to strengthen their eviction defense programs. In 6 months, the program assisted almost 500 tenants. Now, senators are looking to the program's success as a statewide model to keep all Californians housed.

Tenants Together supports Senator Nancy Skinner's SB 18 to increase funding for tenant legal aid programs & emergency financial assistance for tenants short on the rent. We believe that eviction defense and eviction prevention are two key strategies that will keep more tenants in their homes while we fight for long-term tenant protections.

To submit organizational/individual endorsement letters of SB 18 to the Senate Judiciary Committee, send your letters to [email protected]

3. SB 329: Ban discrimination against Section 8 tenants

For many tenants, the Section 8 program is the difference between housing and homelessness. Thousands of low-income tenants are subsidized by the program to cover the high costs of rent and ensure that the rest of a tenant's income can go to other needs, like medical costs, food, and transportation. However, when Section 8 tenants apply for housing in California, many landlords just say "no." 

California's affordable housing crisis has given landlords the green light to price-gouge their units beyond what federal subsidies can cover. For instance, the price of a two-bedroom apartment in Los Angeles soars high above the national "fair market rent," with landlords charging $2,700 for units that the Department of Housing and Urban Development is only willing to pay $1,791 for. Additionally, many tenants feel that having Section 8 puts a label on them as a "bad tenant," making them a target for discrimination even where landlords aren't as concerned about charging higher rents.

The sad reality for many Section 8 tenants is that after waiting 10 or more years to receive your housing voucher, there's a slim chance any landlord in California will accept it. This is why Tenants Together is supporting Senator Mitchell's SB 329 to ban discrimination against Section 8 tenants. By specifically including tenants who receive Section 8 vouchers as a protected class under the Fair Housing and Employment Act, landlords would not be able to deny units to thousands of tenants who receive subsidized housing payments. 

No tenant should be denied housing based on race, gender, sexuality, religion, nationality, and other personal characteristics. Section 8 tenants deserve the same dignity and protection.

To submit organizational/individual endorsement letters of SB 329, use your Advocate portal to submit letters to the Senate Appropriations committee.

To submit organizational/individual endorsement letters to the Senate Judiciary Committee, send your letters to [email protected]

4. AB 36: Amend Costa Hawkins to Create "Rolling Rent Control"

While Costa-Hawkins still creates huge loopholes in local rent control laws, there are new amendments being proposed to weaken the bill. Rather than abolish it completely, Assemblyman Bloom's AB 36 proposes to modify Costa-Hawkins to allow "rolling rent control" on rental units older than 10 years. This would effectively expand rent control to thousands of units built after 1995, with a formula for that inventory to grow. Additionally, AB 36 would expand rent control to single family homes and condominiums when the landlord owns two or more units in the jurisdiction, expanding the supply of rent-controlled homes even more. While there's still work to do on Costa Hawkins, Tenants Together supports AB 36 in its effort to expand rent control to thousands more California tenants. 

To submit individual/organizational endorsement letters of AB 36, use your Advocate portal to submit letters to the Assembly Committee on Housing and Community Development.

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  • Jessica Chuidian-Ingersoll
    published this page in News & Media 2019-04-25 16:31:15 -0700

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