Things to look for on housing and homelessness:

Eviction Moratorium

Council File 20-0147-S19

The City Attorney has drafted an eviction moratorium that must be voted on by City Council before becoming law. Because this meeting is a special session, 12 yes votes are required. Here’s what’s in the draft ordinance:

  • Residential and commercial tenants will not face eviction if they cannot pay rent because of COVID-19.
  • Tenants must pay back rent owed within six months after the end of the coronavirus emergency.
  • Residential landlords must extend expiring leases for three months after the end date of the coronavirus emergency.
  • Landlords will be penalized if they do not inform tenants of their right to defer rent under this ordinance.
  • Landlords must demonstrate that there is “just cause” to evict a residential tenant if a member of the household is ill or in quarantine.

This falls far short of what many housing advocates are calling for by placing the burden of proof on the tenant getting evicted. To fight the eviction, the tenant must navigate a complex administrative and legal process and prove that they were unable to pay rent because they were impacted by COVID-19. This is an unreasonable burden to ask of a tenant facing economic hardship or illness. At the very minimum, a strong eviction moratorium should not require proof of coronavirus impact and would allow at least 24 months to repay rent owed. To truly meet the needs of struggling renters, many housing organizers are now calling for a cancellation of rent and mortgage during the COVID-19 emergency. 

The Healthy LA Coalition calls for a real eviction moratorium

You can expect LA’s most progressive City Councilmember, Mike Bonin, to push for an expansion of the eviction protections to cover all tenants without requiring proof of COVID-19 impact. At the last City Council meeting, Mike Bonin’s original proposal to allow for 24 months to repay back rent was reduced to six months after facing objections from several City Councilmembers who are also landlords.

Eminent Domain of Hillside Villa

Council File 20-0148

Hillside Villa is a 124-unit housing development in Chinatown that was constructed with zero-interest public loans in the late 1980’s. The 30-year affordability covenant is set to expire for 59 of the units, which will become market rate in September 2020. The Hillside Villa Tenants Association was formed to fight the rent increases and habitability and harassment issues under their landlord, Thomas Botz. The tenants are demanding that the City of LA purchase their building using eminent domain and keep the units permanently affordable. In January 2020, Councilmember Gil Cedillo introduced a motion to acquire Hillside Villa through eminent domain.

If this motion passes City Council, it would be a historic victory for all tenants in LA and mark a seismic shift in LA City Council’s willingness to consider bold ideas to solve homelessness and keep families in their homes.

Chinatown Community Equitable Development (CCED), one of the organizations supporting Hillside Villa Tenants Association expects opposition to the motion from Nury Martinez, David Ryu, and Monica Rodriguez.

Things NOT on the Agenda

The Healthy LA coalition offers comprehensive legislative recommendations to protect the health of all Angelenos during the COVID-19 crisis. These housing and homelessness measures are not on today’s City Council agenda.

  • Rent forgiveness and mortgage suspension
  • Rent freeze – bans rent increases
  • Emergency rental assistance
  • Foreclosure protections for tenants
  • Homeowner assistance
  • Revisiting the motion to provide bathrooms and hygiene stations at encampments and make public bathrooms accessible 24/7

LA City Council Drinking Game

Since we’re all at home watching the livestream, we might as well have some fun while enduring bureaucratic hell in social isolation. These rules were largely written by the brilliant Sachin Medhekar.

Take a drink every time:

  • A motion is watered down
  • “Mom and Pop” is mentioned
  • Technical difficulties
  • Postponing the meeting is defended as a necessary safety precaution
  • Mike Bonin votes in the minority
  • Someone asks for help from county/state/fed to do something they already have the power to do
  • Someone under active FBI investigation acts like everything is fine
  • There is a unanimous vote (hard mode)
  • Someone is told they are “off-topic” during public comment
  • Someone is confused about which motion they are voting on

Cheers!

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