It is that time again, Community Connection time! This edition will highlight the Los Angeles Right to Housing Collective’ response to the May 21, 2010 melee in City Council. We will take you to the Mayor’s Mansion and LA Council President Eric Garcetti’s home where residents let him know “that we shall not be moved!” We will also bring you news from Northern Cali where executives of Amerland Group, headed by Ruben Islas, have been arrested and charged with manslaughter in connection to faulty fire systems in one of their affordable housing for seniors projects [search back-issues of the CC and read more about Amerland's failures to adequately serve low-income families and individuals]. These are but a few of the stories that are just a mouse click away, join us as we connect communities locally and abroad.
Archive for Coalition LA
Dear LA CAN supporters and friends,
On May 21, 2010 tenants and their allies who were fighting for a temporary rent freeze were betrayed by Councilmembers and attacked by LAPD in City Council Chambers.
We are writing to explain the details of these events, urge your public support, and ask you to sign and return the attached solidarity statement.
On May 21st a 4-month moratorium on rent increases was being considered by City Council, an action that reflected months of organizing and the active involvement of more than 1,000 low-income tenants from across the city in the rent stabilization reform process. The proposed moratorium was a significant compromise by tenants. Our original demands were (and still are) for comprehensive rent stabilization ordinance reform and a one-year moratorium until full reforms were in place. The motion to write the moratorium had passed two weeks prior with an 8-6 vote, and a vote was needed on this day to adopt it.
Council chambers was filled with mostly Black and Brown tenants, including mothers with their children, people with disabilities, elders, Veterans, and others, with more than a hundred people in overflow areas. Tenants had taken the day off from work, left their children in school after hours, and/or had to make special family arrangements to attend the meeting. After five hours of a Council meeting that included numerous awards, commission appointments, and the declaration of Harvey Milk Day, the Council took up the moratorium item. Limited public testimony was taken on this crucial issue – about 12 minutes each for those supporting and opposing. Councilmembers Hahn and Alarcon expressed their support for the moratorium and their willingness to include some additional compromise, and called for a vote.
Council President Garcetti then intervened in the process and introduced an alternate motion to send the issue back to Committee, although two weeks prior he had voted to move it forward — essentially killing the moratorium and any chance for respite for rent-burdened tenants. That motion passed 10 – 5, with only Councilmembers Alarcon, Hahn, Huizar, Krekorian and Wesson voting on behalf of tenants.
Tenants were outraged by this betrayal and the obvious priority placed on landowners over tenants. We began chanting such things as “Housing is a Human Right” and “Traitors.” Councilmember Zine, who was acting President at the time although Mr. Garcetti was in Chambers, immediately called for the police to clear the room. Within minutes, there were over 60 officers pouring into Council chambers with bean bag guns, taser guns, and billy clubs ready. Councilmember Zine remained in the President’s seat, instigating the officers and continually commanding LAPD on the loudspeaker with such orders as “Get ‘em out of here.”
Tenants continued chanting as we were moving toward the door. Our chants posed absolutely no physical threat to any person or property. An order to disperse was never given by LAPD. Yet, when the entire large group had already moved about 2/3 of the way to the door, officers charged the group, using extreme force and violence against tenants. Officers had been aggressive toward tenants all day, but escalated their efforts to the extreme at this point. The police locked a group of people in the chambers at one point. Also, the police attacked people – shoving, pushing and pulling them to the ground. They stomped, choked, hit with billy clubs, and shot one person with a taser gun at least four times. Three people were forcefully arrested, two of whom face felony charges. These were not planned or justified arrests.
At no time during this violence did Councilmember Garcetti retain his seat or his obligations as Council President, nor did he intervene to prevent these human and civil rights abuses happening in front of his face. Instead he allowed Councilmember Zine to incite the officers further while he sat and laughed and chatted in Mr. Zine’s assigned chair.
We know that many of you consider Mr. Garcetti a friend, an ally, or a supporter, and many of us have as well. Yet, on May 21st, he was wrong on all counts – he initiated and allowed multiple and massive human rights violations. For years tenants have been overburdened by their rent payments, many paying over 50% of their income to maintain homes. In the meantime landlords have generally had profitable, growing businesses. Yet, tenants got no break. Councilmember Garcetti betrayed tenants with his motion to kill the moratorium, a violation of the human right to housing. He acted on behalf of wealthy property owners instead. He was not protecting small, “mom and pop” landlords, who had already been exempted from the proposed moratorium. He was not protecting labor, as he originally claimed to housing leaders, since many union members were present in Chambers and directly expressed their support for the moratorium to him prior to the vote. And, last, Mr. Garcetti allowed a physical assault on the democratic process in his own Chambers and sat silent watching police brutality against low-income people of color. This cannot be acceptable to any of us.
There were others who were wrong that day. Nine other Councilmembers caved to the pressure of large, wealthy landlords instead of taking the opportunity to provide temporary respite for rent-burdened tenants in an historic economic crisis. Councilmember Zine basically ordered LAPD officers to escalate their tactics against tenants who were already peacefully, but not quietly, leaving chambers. Councilmember Rosendahl had indicated he would vote against the moratorium. Many other councilmembers sat and watched the brutality unfold. And, to date, only Councilmember Alarcon made a public statement that reflected the sad state of affairs in City Hall on that day.
But Councilmember Garcetti is the President and he introduced the motion to kill the moratorium. He could have simply voted no, and we would have seen where the votes fell. He did not. He is also obligated to preside over Chambers, facilitate an open public process, and ensure the safety of those participating in that process. He did not.
On the same day that Harvey Milk Day was established in Los Angeles, the exact same police force and brutality tactics used against Harvey Milk and those in the gay rights movement were used against LA’s housing rights movement. In City Hall. In front of the Council’s own eyes. As Angelenos, we are asked to participate in civic processes and give input and when we did, enforcers were called in to violently silence us. Again, this cannot be acceptable to any of us.
Today we inform you that we will continue our fight and push forward our demands to ensure that Housing is a Human Right in Los Angeles. Also, we want to let you know that we hold every Councilmember accountable to the tenant majority in Los Angeles. The council, as a whole, is morally responsible for ensuring safe, stable and decent affordable housing regardless of market conditions or their own political aspirations.
We urge you to act. We urge you to publicly voice your opinions and position about this travesty of justice. While private conversations are often useful, in this case we need widespread and public response. We cannot allow May 21st to happen without accountability from all of those who participated – either actively or silently. As a first and simple step, you can sign the attached solidarity statement, which will be shared with public officials and others. We also urge you to send/email more extensive letters to Councilmember Garcetti and others, and provide copies to us. There are many other ways you can support the LA Right to Housing Collective’s actions now and in the future, so please contact us if you are interested and willing to act.
The LA Right to Housing Collective, including:
Coalition LA, Comunidad Presente, Inquilidos Unidos, Los Angeles Community Action Network, POWER, South Asian Network,
Strategic Actions for a Just Economy, and Union de Vecinos.
(All of whom had members and staff present in Council Chambers on May 21, 2010)
News clips and raw video are available at:
-Los Angeles, CA
Angelenos, withering under the weight of a depression with no end in sight, are calling for the Los Angeles City Council to give them a break. The break they are demanding comes in the form of a “rent freeze” slated to last for the next 12 months. It is fact that the lion’s share of Los Angeles residents are indeed renters. Plus, in light of the housing bubble collapse, many more Angelenos have been thrust into marginal housing; an already over-burdened social service system; and the ranks of homelessness.
As cuts to crucially needed services continue to send the quality of life for poor residents straight down the toilet, banks and businesses continue to get bailed out. Adding insult to injury in many instances banks have assumed the role of landlord in foreclosed multi-unit properties. There are numerous reports stating that banks are not making repairs, violating health and safety code standards, and attempting to drive people from their units. Why? Because it is easier to get rid of an empty building, that’s why!
Many of these institutions are direct, or indirect beneficiaries, of the bailout.
A Little History
The City-sponsored “Economic Study of the Rent Stabilization Ordinance and the Los Angeles Housing Market” (RSO Study) was released in June 2009. This study includes recommendations relative to the City’s Rent Stabilization Ordinance (RSO), including calling for the elimination of the 3% “floor” on rental increases allowed by the RSO based on the Consumer Price Index and elimination of the additional 1% rent increase allowed for each utility (gas or electricity) where it’s included in the rent. The study showed that the utility increases allowed in the RSO bears no relationship to the actual cost to landlords, thus providing landlords with a significant windfall at tenants’ expense.
The current CPI rate for 2010 is -.62 %, which means that renters will face unjustified rent increase of 3%, due to the “floor” beginning July 1, 2010, unless the rent increase moratorium is passed.
The City of West Hollywood currently has a 0% allowable rent increase. In San Francisco rent increases are now 0.1%, in Oakland it is 0.7%, in Santa Monica it is a 1% increase, and in Berkeley it is a 0.1% allowable rent increase. Why does Los Angeles continue to stand out and to have a 3% minimum increase on the books?
On May 5, 2010, in a 3-1 vote in our favor, we were able to convince the Community & Economic Development Committee that a moratorium is warranted. As with all political struggle our original 12-month demand was reduced to 4 months–of course this was without our knowledge or support. While this falls short of our ultimate 12-month moratorium we are clear that we will continue to fight hard for a vote on Friday that reflects the community’s. Moreover, we will not stop fighting for the Human Right to Housing until all of our demands are met.
If you are a tenant living in Los Angeles we urge you to come and join the growing ranks of tenants fighting for the rent-freeze and the universal right to housing.
LA City Hall , 200 N. Main, Los Angeles, CA
Friday, May 7th 10:00am – conference to be held immediately after the vote
IMMEDIATE ACTION NEEDED!! PLEASE READ ALL THE WAY TO THE BOTTOM J
TENANTS COULD ACHIEVE ONE-YEAR RELIEF FROM RENT INCREASES!
Councilmember Alarcon has introduced a motion for a one-year moratorium on any rent increases in rent-stabilized buildings in Los Angeles. This moratorium needs to move forward VERY quickly or it could get lost in the city’s budget process. Landlords are already calling Councilmembers and weighing in against it – not surprisingly.
But….there are more tenants and tenant supporters than there are landlords – so they need to hear from us now! Please make your own calls and ask colleagues, members, neighbors and others to make calls between today and Friday, April 30th. Be sure to specifically tell the Councilmembers if you live or work in their district – but call them any or all as an LA resident.
We are asking for at least 2 calls from each person in the next week:
FIRST and most urgent: Call Councilmember Herb Wesson who is Chair of the Housing and Community Economic Development Committee (HCED). Strongly urge him to schedule the moratorium proposed by Councilman Alarcon to freeze rent increases for rent controlled units from July 2010 – June 2011. We want him to schedule it on the HCED agenda on or before May 5th. We also need to urge his support for the final policy. The motion was introduced in City Council and is now waiting to be heard in his committee. If Wesson does not put it on the agenda, it can’t be drafted.
District 10, Herb Wesson, 213-473-7010
Sample script if needed – My name is___________ and I am with (organization name) and a resident of the City of Los Angeles (tell him specifically if you also live in his district). I am calling to ask that Councilmember Wesson put the moratorium preventing rent increases on the agenda for the next HCED meeting. I want him to know this issue has to be on the agenda by May 5th or it won’t be enacted in time to prevent rent increases this year. I also would like to know if Councilman Wesson plans to vote in favor of the moratorium (and if he does not support it, why not?)
SECONDLY Please call the councilmember that represents your neighborhood and/or the area your organization works in. Below are organizations who already volunteered to make calls in specific council districts – we need to cover as many councilmembers as possible, so take on as many districts as makes sense. Email me to update me on which district(s) you can cover. OUR GOAL IS THAT EACH COUNCILMEMBER RECEIVE AT LEAST 500 CALLS OVER THE NEXT WEEK. We are urging each of these councilmembers to support the moratorium because renters simply can’t take any more increases during these tough economic times.
Sample script if needed – My name is___________ and I am with (organization name) and I am a resident of the district. I am calling to ask that Councilmember_________ vote in favor of the moratorium on rent increases for rent controlled units. The moratorium is only for one year. We are ONLY seeking a temporary break on our annual rent increases. Tenants are faced with reduction in wages and increases in utilities and transportation costs. These savings will help us cover other basic necessities to survive. Can we count on the Councilmember’s support?
For these councilmembers, make calls and urge them to support the moratorium (commitments to date listed):
District 1, Ed Reyes, (213)-473-7001 – Comunidad Presente, Coalition LA, Inquilinos Unidos, Healthy Homes Collaborative
District 2, Paul Krekorian, (213)-473-7002 – we need organizations here who have members!
District 4, Tom LaBonge, (213)-473-7004 – CES, KIWA
District 5, Paul Koretz, (213)-473-7005 We need organizations here!
District 6, Tony Cardenas, 213-473-7006 We need organizations here!
District 9, Jan Perry, 213-473-7009 LACAN, Comunidad Presente, SAJE, Esperanza
District 11, Bill Rosendahl, 213-473-7011 POWER
District 13, Eric Garcetti, 213-473-7013 CES, LACAN, Healthy Homes Collaborative
District 14, Jose Huizar, 213-473-7014 Union de Vecinos, LA CAN
District 15, Janice Hahn, 213-473-7015 POWER
LASTLY – don’t forget to call Councilmember Alarcon and thank him for introducing the motion and tell him you support it!
District 7, Richard Alarcon, 213-473-7007
Stay tuned for more information – a LOT more action will be needed to achieve this crucial victory. You may see numerous emails on this issue as several coalitions and organizations are actively involved – don’t delete them! We need everyone engaged.
It is that time again, Community Connection time! In this edition you will join us as we connect the struggle for human rights at home with those struggles abroad. We will also pick a part the latest attempt by the City Attorney, LAPD, Union Rescue Mission, and Business community as they continue to try an banish poor and Black downtown residents. As always, there is plenty of information for everyone and please send us your thoughts.
[Please click on link below to view Community Connection 36]
On the morning of April 14, 2010 tenants from across Los Angeles crammed into the LA City Council press room waiting anxiously for the press conference to begin. This would not be your usual City Hall pres conference where politicians are surrounded by their staff, lobbyists and the gamut of deep-pocket special interest players that adorn the corridors of City Hall. Instead, you had an eclectic mix of people adorning colorful t-shirts that boldly stated their organizations, mission and communities standing around the podium.
Today would mark the first time in a long while in which everyday Angelenos would be viewed as a priority. Today Councilmember Alarcon would call for a 1-year freeze on rent-increases in rent stabilized units in Los Angeles.
Councilmember Alarcon opened with a story about he and his wife having lunch at El Pollo Loco. A property owner approached him and said hello, to which Alarcon asked if he was faring okay in these tough economic times. The owner responded that the mortgage meltdown was great for business because there was such a demand for rental property and that he could raise his rents at will.
That was the make or break moment for Richard Alarcon.
You could sense the pain of uncertainty as tenants from LA CAN, Union de Vecinos, and Comunidad Presente shared their testimony from the podium. Councilmember Alarcon listened quietly, thoughtfully, as Claudia Gomez tearfully told her story about a family of six forced to live in a one bedroom home. It was clear, given the entirety of her comments, that any increase would mean being forced to choose one life sustaining thing over another.
Click Link below to Read Story
Los Angeles Human Right to Housing Collective organizations involved have included: Los Angeles Housing Preservation Alliance, Coalition LA, Coalition for Economic Survival, Comunidad Presente, Esperanza Community Housing, Inquilinos Unidos, KIWA, LA CAN, LACEH&H, Lamp Community, POWER, SAJE, Union de Vecinos, legal partners, and other supporters
–March 30, 2010
Hundreds of tenants from across Los Angeles converged on L.A. City Hall to demand that policy-makers; 1) make housing for everyone that needs it a priority; 2) respond to the United Nations report which documented human rights violations that exist in L.A.s housing stock; and, 3) hold a public hearing, in the community, at a time that is convenient for a broad range of Angeleno’s.
Tenants, armed with determination, were prepared to stay in City Hall until their demands were met. Sensing that something powerful was underfoot Councilmember Wesson quickly capitulated to their demands. He addressed the crowd after our testimony and agreed to hold an HCED hearing in his district on or near April 15th. Stay tuned for more details.
[click links below to view declaration demands and recommendations]
Photographs By: Nicholas Dahmann
MEDIA ADVISORY MEDIA CONTACT(S):
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Pete White (213) 434-1594 Elizabeth Blaney (323)816-4961
TENANTS OVERWHELM LA CITY COUNCIL CHAMBERS
Community Organizations and tenants continue to build momentum to secure the Human Right to Housing in light of the recent United Nations report that finds Los Angeles in violation of human rights standards.
WHAT: Hundreds of tenants overwhelm city council chambers to demand that the Mayor and LA City Council make housing for everyone that needs it a top priority. Tenants will present their housing declaration outlining their vision of safe, clean, and truly affordable, housing. They will also deliver public testimony, demand a special public hearing on the state of housing in Los Angeles, and rally outside city hall making their voices heard.
WHEN: March 30, 2010
10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
WHERE: Los Angeles City Hall
City Council Chambers, 200 N. Spring St., Los Angeles, CA
WHY: Earlier this month, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing, Raquel Rolnik, released her report and recommendations to the United Nations on the state of housing in the United States. In it she states:
“ Housing is not simply about bricks and mortar, nor is it simply a financial asset. Housing includes a sense of community, trust and bonds built between neighbours over time; the schools which educate the children; and the businesses which support the local economy and provide needed goods and services. The subprime mortgage crisis has increased an already large gap between the supply and demand of affordable housing, and the economic crisis which followed has led to increased unemployment and an even greater need for affordable housing.”
Despite the report findings that highlighted Los Angeles’ housing violations the City continues to prioritize sustaining the police force while simultaneously cutting services for those most in need. Additionally, the Department of Housing and Urban Development is constructing legislation to eliminate its public housing stock across the country.
Los Angeles tenant Claudia Gomez states, “with homelessness increasing, now is the time for the city to strengthen its housing policies to protect more tenants and provide housing stability for all its residents. Many of our recommendations can be done at no additional cost to the city.”
WHO: A broad coalition of housing rights organizations which include: Los Angeles Housing Preservation Alliance, Bus Riders Union, Coalition LA, Coalition for Economic Survival, Comunidad Presente, Esperanza Community Housing, Homeless Health Care LA, Hippie Kitchen, Inquilinos Unidos, LA CAN, LACEHH, POWER, SAJE, Union de Vecinos, and our legal supporters.
Specific Media Opportunities: Public testimonies, outside rally. Spanish speakers will be available.
–December 10, 2009
Organizations from across Los Angeles descended upon City Hall demanding that policy makers respect their human right to adequate housing.
In a gathering that was truly reflective of multi-cultural L.A. residents took to the streets on the International Day of Human Rights. Members from KIWA, SAN, LA CAN, Union de Vecinos, Comunidad Presente, CES, Esperanza Housing, SAJE, Coalition LA, and Homeless Healthcare took to the street to highlight domestic human rights violations.
The action comes on the heels of a recent United Nations mission investigating housing conditions in the United States. While in Los Angeles Raquel Rolnik, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing, stated that she indeed saw human rights violations in our city. The United Nations will release findings in March 2010 in their official report. Stay tuned because there will be many more activities in the months before the release.