8 Democrats Reject Eviction Protections for Organizers

Last week, 8 Democratic senators abstained or voted no on SB 529, the Tenant Right to Organize Bill. Many of the opposed senators represent regions with thousands of tenants paying more than 30% of their incomes on rent: The San Joaquin Valley, Imperial Valley, Fresno County, Orange County, parts of Contra Costa County, and San Diego County. Write these Democrats and ask why they don't want to stop retaliatory evictions:

Bob Archuleta: senator.archuleta@senate.ca.gov

Bill Dodd: senator.dodd@senate.ca.gov

Steven Glazer: senator.glazer@senate.ca.gov

Ben Hueso: senator.hueso@senate.ca.gov

Melissa Hurtado: senator.hurtado@senate.ca.gov

Richard Roth: senator.roth@senate.ca.gov

Thomas Umberg: senator.umberg@senate.ca.gov

Cathleen Galgiani: senator.Galgiani@senate.ca.go

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AB 705 (Stone): Protecting Mobile Home Parks

New legislation is underway to protect California's mobile home parks, hundreds of which are affordable havens for low-income mobile home owners and tenants. Since 2000, owners and developers have targeted mobile home parks for conversion into higher-income generating uses, according to George H. Kaelin III, an attorney at Allen, Semelsberger & Kaelin LLP in San Diego. In 2007, Kaelin predicted that mobile home parks would face drastic decline and recommended that protections be put in place to mitigate these closures. He was right. Between 2000 and 2017, the number of mobile homes nationally has fallen 3%. Now, Assemblyman Mark Stone and advocates with the Golden State Manufactured-Home Owners League have put themselves to the task of protecting mobile home park residents from displacement with a statewide bill to limit park closures. 

 

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No on Wiener's "Gentrification Bomb" SB 50

Senator Wiener's latest repackaging of his gentrification bill SB 827 has returned this legislative session as SB 50, which will be heard by the Senate Government and Finance Committee later this month. Essentially nothing has changed about this bill, save for mild lip-service given to "sensitive communities" that will be impacted by luxury development in "job-rich" neighborhoods. What do these terms mean? It's hard to say, given that Wiener has yet to concretely define how tenant protections will be enforced. Here's what we do know.

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LA Times: "Housing vouchers can save people from homelessness. But landlords may not accept them."

"When Kimberly Dominique received her Section 8 voucher in September, she thought it was the ticket to move out of the Ford Focus she and her 29-year-old son called home.

But Dominique, a 66-year-old stroke survivor, spent months contacting one apartment complex after another in Oceanside, only to have landlords reject the voucher, which can provide hundreds of dollars toward a rent payment.

One day, Dominique estimated, she called more than 70 landlords. Those who answered or bothered to call back all had the same answer: No.

'It’s taken its toll,' Dominique said late last year, noting that she’d lost weight and grown increasingly depressed as her voucher neared expiration.

'Sometimes, I feel like I’m losing hope,' said Dominique’s son, Dion."

Click here to read Andrew Khouri's article.


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.

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SN&R: "Evicted for Organizing?"

New state legislation would prevent retaliatory evictions against tenants rights organizers.

"...Deed says she heard from so many other renters who were having problems with Pearl Investment that she continued organizing tenants at the Trees at Madison and two other properties Pearl owns.

On March 19, just weeks after the year lease on Deed’s apartment expired, Pearl Investment served her with another eviction notice. This time there was no cause listed. Deed believes it’s direct retaliation for her advocacy.

“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.”

Click here to read Scott Anderson's article. 


Tenants Together Co-Sponsors Statewide Right-to-Organize Legislation

Today, Tenants Together, California’s statewide organization for renters’ rights, announced its sponsorship of Senate Bill 529, which aims to protect California tenants from retaliation by their landlord for organizing collectively. The bill would prevent evictions of tenants participating in a tenant association or rent strike.

Over half of California renters are cost-burdened, paying more than 30% of their income towards rent. Half a million California tenants face court eviction every year, and far more are displaced by rent increases and eviction notices. Homelessness has risen statewide by 15% since 2015. In the midst of an escalating housing affordability crisis, many tenants are afraid to assert their rights. Tenants who speak out about their housing conditions are vulnerable to retaliation and losing their homes.

Betty Gabaldon is one of these tenants. A single mother with two jobs who organized her building and neighborhood to fight substandard rental conditions, Betty was evicted from her home of 8 years in Concord, CA, and had to leave the city. “I was evicted simply because I worked to protect my family and my neighbors,” says Gabaldon. “Renters like me deserve the right to fight for safe, livable housing and not be afraid of retaliation from landlords.”

SB 529 is the product of collaboration between Tenants Together’s member organizations across the state and State Senator María Elena Durazo (D-Los Angeles), the bill’s author. Tenants who form associations against excessive rent hikes, poor living conditions, or harassment, are often met with retaliatory evictions.

“Every Californian has a right to a union at work and a union at home,” said Lupe Arreola, executive director of Tenants Together. “Tenant organizations are often the only thing standing between marginalized communities and displacement. We are grateful to have a labor champion like Senator Durazo advancing this bill.”


The Nation: "A New Housing Rights Movement Has the Real Estate Industry Running Scared"

In cities across the country, tenants are demanding robust regulations to keep rents affordable and stop unjust evictions.

"Araceli Barrera is a housekeeper at a hotel in Denver. Last year, the apartment where she lives with her husband and two children was overrun with an insect infestation. She says she had to trash most of her belongings and move out. When her landlord took her to housing court to force her to fulfill the final months of her lease agreement, she turned to a local renters coalition called Colorado Homes for All. The group provided her with a pro bono lawyer who helped defend her in the case.

The experience politicized her. Now Barrera is helping Homes for All push a bill in the state legislature that would allow Colorado tenants to withhold rent from their landlords if their housing is in disrepair.

'I lost everything, my belongings, my home, and the life of my family was uprooted,' she says in Spanish. 'That makes me want to fight harder. I want to go to the capitol and tell my story and be heard.'"

 

Click here to read more of Jimmy Tobias's article.

Kathleen Ronayne, AP Photo 


LA Times: "Glendale Landlords May Soon Have to Limit Annual Rent Increases to 7% or Pay Tenant Relocation Fees"

"Glendale officials signaled Tuesday evening they would support a proposed ordinance requiring landlords to offer tenants a one-year lease and pay relocation fees if their rent is raised more than 7% annually and the tenant opts to leave."

Click here to read more of Lila Seidman's article.

Raul Roa, LA Times staff photographer


Jacobin: "The Struggle for Rent Control"

In California’s fight over Proposition 10, it’s Wall Street versus the working class.

"Every month, tenants in more than 14,000 California rental properties fork over huge portions of their paychecks to Blackstone, a Wall Street asset-management company that’s notoriously reluctant to perform maintenance duties. This year, Blackstone has been throwing millions of dollars of that money into the fight against Proposition 10, a ballot measure that would pave the way for rent control across the state.

Or to put it another way: a massive corporation is using working people as ATMs, and then leveraging the money it extracts from them to purchase political influence, thus protecting its ability to continue wringing renters dry — all while rents skyrocket, the eviction and homelessness crises worsen, and the average working-class Californian’s standard of living plummets."

 

Click here to read more of Meagan Day's article.



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