Fight for Better Laws
FIGHT FOR BETTER LAWS
Californians have been experiencing a severe housing crisis for many years now. We lived through millions of foreclosure after Wall Street banks crashed the economy in 2007, and we’ve been living through a period of skyrocketing rents driven in part by Wall Street speculators. Over 5 million of us are paying well over 50% of our income on housing! The federal government says anything over 30% is unaffordable. Yeah. We know.
We also know that for low-income communities, and especially communities of color, there has long been a shortage of decent safe housing we can afford. And for over 100 years, after slavery was ended, government policies excluded African-Americans from housing opportunities. When the legal barriers ended, rampant discrimination continued. And farmworkers and very low-income families have been forced to live in severely overcrowded and unsafe housing for as long as we can remember.
It’s past time for the United States to recognize that housing is a basic need and should be a basic right. We strongly believe that housing is a human right, and that no one should have to pay more than 30% of their income for housing.
The COVID-19 pandemic has left many more Californians Struggling to pay rent and buy basic necessities.
On August 31, 2020, the State Legislature passed the COVID-19 Tenant Relief Act of 2020 (Assembly Bill 3088) to provide some protections against eviction through the end of January, 2021. But it doesn’t stop all evictions, and doesn’t address what happens in February, 2021!
In November, hundreds of groups fighting for housing justice tried to pass Proposition 21, repealing the Costa Hawkins Act, that would have removed the statewide limits to rent control. . The real estate industry, led by corporate landlords, spent $85 million to stop the passage of Prop 21, a tenant protection measure that would have allowed cities and counties to put more limits on how much landlords can raise the rent.
Here are a few next steps and directions in
our struggle for housing justice in California
A Moratorium on All Evictions During the Pandemic And the Recovery
AB 15 buys tenants more time and must be passed before February 1st to extend AB 3088.
AB 15 extends the eviction protections from AB 3088 to ensure that renters are able to remain in their homes during the pandemic. The bill also prevents landlords from bringing lawsuits to collect missed rent against tenants while AB 3088’s eviction protections are in place.
The goal of AB 16 is to forgive rent debt by tenants and help small landlords impacted by loss of income.
AB 16, which is still being drafted, will by the more permanent solution to the problem that many of us will not be able to make up back rent, even after COVID. Those of us lucky enough to get right back to full employment will not be receiving back pay for the time we've been off. How could we pay back rent? AB 16 will provide rent relief or forgiveness to struggling tenants, and establish an assistance for needy small landlords and non-profits missing rent payments and unable to stay afloat without help.
We are calling on California Governor Gavin Newsom to pass an Executive Order that prevents ANY evictions from moving forward that are not issues of serious health and safety for tenants while we are being told to stay home and prevent the spread of this virus! The bill that was passed in September, AB 3088, only applies to nonpayment of rent.
Sign this petition calling on Governor Newsom to act immediately to prohibit all evictions while we are still coping with the pandemic.
Californians can only shelter in place when they have a roof over their heads. No one should be made homeless during a pandemic. As millions of Californians are out of work during the pandemic, we need a real moratorium to protect all tenants from eviction. AB 3088 only applies to nonpayment of rent. Tenants who are evicted for reasons other than nonpayment are at risk of homelessness if they are unable to afford a new place, and should also be protected from eviction. Being without stable housing during the COVID-19 pandemic is especially dangerous. For many of those who are sick, elderly, immunocompromised, or otherwise at increased risk from COVID-19, moving will simply not be a safe option.
Cancel Unpaid Rent and Mortgage Payments for Low and Moderate Income People During the COVID-19 Crisis
Millions of Californians have lost income or incurred unexpected expenses because of the COVID-19 crisis and its effects, and have no way to catch up on payments. Californians do not deserve to rack up thousands of dollars in debt in order to stay housed. The big banks and many large corporate landlords have received millions of dollars in federal stimulus money, but have not passed those savings on to low income and working families.
The Solution for Renters: Cancel all rent unpaid during the COVID-19 crisis so that tenants don’t have to worry about accumulated debt, negative credit reports, or becoming blacklisted from future rentals because of COVID-19.
The Solution for Borrowers: Cancel unpaid mortgage payments during COVID-19 to stop the wave of foreclosures on homeowners and small (1 to 10 unit) landlord or we risk repeating the 2008 financial and foreclosure crisis that stripped communities of color wealth. Just like 2008, in 2020 Wall Street received billions under the CARES Act but borrowers have received no foreclosure protections.
All rent unpaid during the COVID-19 crisis should be canceled. Tenants should not have to worry about accumulating debt, about negative consequences on their credit reports, or being blacklisted from future rentals because of unpaid rent during the COVID-10 emergency period.
The 2008 financial crisis set off a wave of foreclosures that stripped wealth from communities of color. In the current crisis, banks have received billions in fees from processing loan applications under the CARES Act, but can still foreclose on homeowners who are unable to pay their mortgages. If Wall Street was bailed out, homeowners should be as well. Mortgage payments during the COVID-19 crisis should be canceled for homeowners. This protection should also be extended to small landlords who own between one and ten housing units in the state.
Make Extended Protections under the Tenant Protection Act Permanent and Pass Statewide Rent Control
AB 3088 extends the “just cause” protections of the Tenant Protection Act to all tenants until February. It also closes the “renoviction” loophole in AB 1482 to prevent landlords from using unnecessary renovations as a pretext to evict tenants. These changes should be made permanent - all tenants deserve effective just cause protections, and not only during a pandemic
But tenants deserve more protections from unfair rent increases than the Tenant Protection Act. While it prevents the most extreme rent increases, it is not rent control. We need to pass real rent control statewide, so that allowable annual rent increases track CPI - the Consumer Price Index, as an annual measure of inflation.
Allow Local Eviction Moratoriums and Strengthen Local Protections
Cities and counties who want to pass their own protections that are stronger than AB 3088 should not be blocked from doing so at any time. California legislators must remove the ban in AB 3088 on stronger local protections.
Cities and counties should pass our model local eviction moratorium to prevent most evictions during the pandemic.
Universal Right to Counsel
While no tenants should face eviction, those who find themselves in eviction court should not be forced to navigate the legal system without a lawyer. We need a universal right to counsel so that tenants in eviction cases can be represented by an attorney and actually use the legal protections that are available to them.
Stop Landlord Harassment
Harassment is still an effective way for bad actor landlords to illegally remove tenants from their homes. Many tenants “self-evict” and move out of their homes rather than continue to face ongoing harassment where they live. We need stronger state and local anti-harassment protections so that tenants can live safely and securely in their homes.
Get local, state and federal government to invest billions into social housing
The housing crisis cannot be solved unless and until local, state and federal governments invest billions to increase the supply of housing affordable for those of us making money wage, a bit more, or less. Both production of new housing and preservation of existing affordable housing are needed
Open Publicly-Owned and Vacant Units to Unhoused People
Everyone who wants to be brought indoors should be brought in immediately. All vacant hotels, publicly owned property, and vacant housing units--including luxury units--need to be opened up to house currently unhoused people.
Fund Community Land Trusts and Establish a Tenant and Community Right to Purchase.
We need to make homes permanently affordable by putting land into community control with innovative local solutions like community land trusts. Tenants should be given the opportunity to purchase the units they live in if they go on the market. Community organizations should also be given a right of first refusal in order to make existing housing permanently affordable.
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