Rent Freeze for Main Street!
-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.