Policy Committee

Homelessness and Housing Policy Candidate Report Card

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The homelessness crisis and its solutions are directly tied to the decisions that are made by Los Angeles governing bodies and their representatives. November 3rd will be the last day to vote in an election that will determine the future of City Council, the County Board of Supervisors, the District Attorney, and more. The City of Los Angeles is home to over 4 million of the County’s residents, yet there are only 15 City Councilors and one Mayor deciding City policy. With a budget of $10.71 billion, City Councilors have the power to: implement bridge housing, designate safe parking locations, prevent evictions, build affordable housing, tell the LAPD how to spend their money, and decide whether it should be illegal to sleep in your car, on the street, or in a park.  Los Angeles County is home to over 10 million people, with 60,000 that are unhoused and hundreds of thousands of others that are on the brink of losing their housing – yet there are only five elected officials (County Supervisors) who decide County policy. With a budget of $36.1 billion, the County Supervisors have the power to: decide how the $355 million Measure H dollars are spent, what the systems look like including justice and child welfare, and more. The LA County District Attorney supervises nearly 1,000 Deputy District Attorneys. They make decisions about who to prosecute and what charges to bring. Federal and state legislators drive major funding decisions on housing and homelessness.

METHODS

Ktown For All’s Policy Committee held a special meeting to review and rate local candidates included on the November 3, 2020 ballot that would have jurisdiction over the community of Ktown: City Council District 4, City Council District 10, LA County Supervisor District 2, and LA County District Attorney. Additionally, we included California State Assembly and United States Congress races that would represent Ktown. Twelve committee members gathered research from candidate websites, public coverage, candidate press or public statements, voting records (when applicable), and candidate public forums.

The committee reviewed each candidate on five categories related to homelessness and housing in Los Angeles. Candidate platforms on other issues were not taken into account. The five categories identified were: housing policy, homelessness services, renter protections, criminalization, and knowledge of the issues.  Housing Policy specifically reflected overall housing policies (not related to homelessness services). Areas that were explored were the candidates’ commitment to affordable housing development as well as public housing and community land trusts. Candidates were also evaluated on their proposed strategies for increasing affordable housing, their stance on issues such as Prop 15, Prop 13, a vacancy tax, and finally their endorsement of the homes guarantee platform, which has been formally endorsed by Ktown for all.  Homelessness services reflected the candidates’ proposed or historical policies related to services for people experiencing homelessness, including things such as supportive housing, shelter, and street-level services. Grades considered that homelessness services proposals were in depth, included a range of options, and especially did not reflect the ideology of “service resistance.” For renter protections, candidates were graded on renter protection proposals such as tenant right to counsel, rent freeze, rent cancellation within the COVID-19 pandemic, endorsement of Proposition 21, and their ability to connect renter protections to homelessness prevention. For criminalization, candidates’ grades were based on their attitudes and history towards punitive policies that target and/or criminalize people experiencing homelessness, as well as the candidates’ relationship and approach to policing. Depth of Knowledge reflected the candidates’ overall understanding of the issue of homelessness in Los Angeles, their successful record on passing policy, as well as their fluency in speaking to housing and homelessness issues. District Attorney grades reflected slightly different categories, including: Overall Criminal Justice Policy; Criminalization of Homelessness; and Focus on Homelessness.

The research was presented to the group and each candidate was discussed individually. A KFA member presented research on candidates in one particular race, which were then discussed with the overall group. Grades were collected from all participating members after each race was presented. Therefore, candidate grades are best compared within each race, not across the full set of those candidates. Each member assigned a unique grade (range A – F) for each category. If a member works or worked for a specific candidate, they were excluded from grading candidates in that race. Then an average grade was calculated for each category. Finally, an average grade was calculated based on the average across all five categories, resulting in a final overall grade. Candidates’ overall grades and specific issue grades are presented in this report, along with a brief summary of how we arrived at each grade.

RESULTS

Overall Grades on Candidates Homelessness and Housing Policies
City Council District 10
Mark Ridley-ThomasC+Ridley-Thomas has been a consistent voice advocating for homeless housing and services. His mixed record on criminalization and policing raised concerns, but he is moving in the right direction on these issues. His long tenure in office gives him expertise, but also suggests he may not move the city in new directions.
Grace YooDYoo’s stances on tenant protections and housing policy lean in the correct direction, but her opposition to a local shelter and her lack of deep knowledge on housing and homelessness issues raises concern. Her campaign has also failed to meet the moment, lacking a real platform on policing.
City Council District 4
Nithya RamanARaman’s platform is detailed and specific and prioritizes issues of housing and homelessness. Decriminalizing homelessness and poverty is a core issue on her overall platform and she would bring many new ideas to the council. She also has experience founding a homelessness service organization.
David RyuD+Ryu has worked on housing and homelessness issues as a city councilor and his recent statements against criminalization are a positive development, but his platform and his record on housing in his district don’t reflect the urgency of the moment. Ryu’s past votes on criminalization and his comments about conservatorship gave us pause, as did the imbalance between luxury and affordable housing development in his district.
County Board of Supervisors District 2
Holly J. MitchellB+Mitchell has a solid grasp of the issues and has a record of reducing the criminalization of vulnerable populations.  She has a consistent record on writing and passing relevant legislation. Mitchell has an experienced point of view, and has been willing to take the lead on issues that she feels strongly about.
Herb Wesson Jr.C+Herb Wesson tends to vote the right way on housing and homelessness issues, but projects and policies originating from his office, like the LaFayette Park Bridge Home, have often been small-scale and slow to materialize. Recently, he has been an advocate for better criminal justice policy. Wesson understands government and the issues, but often takes a quiet and transactional approach to getting things done.
District Attorney
George GascónB+Gascón’s platforms show he’s serious about reform, and he provides the most detailed and specific plans of any DA candidate. His homelessness platform, showing his ability to connect the justice system to housing instability.  He has shown a willingness to engage with activists and evolve on issues, but some of his past choices as a police officer and district attorney raised questions.
Jackie LaceyFLacey’s history on homelessness and criminal justice broadly suggest that she does not prioritize the needs of unhoused Angelenos. Her office has fought against efforts to reduce incarceration and criminalization, and she has faced criticism from activists and elected officials who once endorsed her.
State Assembly District 53
Miguel SantiagoCSantiago has generally supported renter protections and bills to fund homeless services/housing, but has generally avoided rocking the boat in Sacramento. His mixed record on criminal justice and policing leaves us wondering where he stands on those issues.
Godfrey Santos PlataA-Santos Plata would be the only renter in the state legislature, and his platform demonstrates a deep focus on the housing needs of low income communities. His deep ties to activists and community groups around the district were also appreciated by our members.
U.S. House of Representatives District 34
Jimmy GomezCGomez has consistently supported federal funding to protect renters and help local governments fund services and housing. However, he has been slow to respond to the constituents’ housing concerns, and has failed to offer bold policies despite taking a leadership role in local homelessness discussions.
David KimA-Kim’s platform demonstrates that he’s listened to housing activists in and around his district, offering bold proposals to address housing issues. Kim has also demonstrated deep ties to his community, participating in protests and mutual aid projects around the district.

Los Angeles City Council District 10

Mark Ridley-Thomas, City Council District 10 Candidate
Overall GradeC+
Housing PolicyCAs a career politician, Ridley-Thomas has produced some affordable housing units, and supported rapidly housing the homeless and directing CARES Act funding to permanent housing solutions. But the effectiveness of his policies are unclear, and have raised gentrification concerns.
Homelessness ServicesBRidley-Thomas authored Measure H, which secured $3.5 billion for services and has been relatively effective compared to other homelessness initiatives in LA. He was an important voice in pushing for Permanent Supportive Housing and more community mental health services. His office has funded services in Ktown, including the St. James Shower of Hope.  
Renter ProtectionsCRidley-Thomas voted in the right direction on rent relief and extending renter protections during the pandemic, but he has not been a leader in advocating for renters. His current platform does not mention tenants or renters, which is concerning given the prominence of these issues in current council debates.  
CriminalizationC+Ridley-Thomas voted Measure J onto the ballot and has come out as a strong voice calling for the resignation of Sheriff Villanueva. But his advocacy for “Obligation to shelter” / expanding forced treatment raises serious concerns. His support for “community-based policing” and respectful treatment of officers also indicate he prefers reforms of police over defunding or abolition. His campaign is funded by the LA Police Protective League / police union. He has privately indicated that he would not enforce Special Enforcement and Cleanup Zones.    
Depth of KnowledgeBRidley-Thomas has been in office since 1991, and has extensive experience on homelessness policy at the local and state level — he currently co-chairs the Governor’s Council of Regional Homeless Advisors. He is fluent on the issues of homelessness even if not always reliable as an advocate.
Additional NotesRidley-Thomas’s time as an LA politician is long and marked by occasional scandals — including using taxpayer dollars for personal property — that raise questions about his overall integrity as a public servant. He has also publicly admitted his ambitions to run for Mayor in 2022, which has raised questions on whether he will focus his attention to the needs of CD 10.
Grace Yoo,  City Council District 10 Candidate
Overall GradeD+
Housing PolicyCGrace Yoo’s housing policies correctly identify the need for affordable housing at all levels but some of her previous endorsements indicate her sympathies may lean towards NIMBY homeowners. Her platform focuses on unorthodox housing development (semi-permanent, tiny homes, lego homes, etc) and soliciting funding from higher levels of government, but lacks in concrete actions she would take as a City Councilwoman.
Homelessness ServicesD-Yoo proposes solutions that are well-intentioned such as using public land for safe parking and cheaper approaches to construction, but many of these ideas are already in progress. While Yoo’s connections to the faith community may help generate some new services, her comments about requiring rehabilitation before providing shelter raise serious concerns about her approach. Yoo’s history of leading the opposition to a shelter in Koreatown raises questions about how she would fight to get these projects sited near the people they serve.
Renter ProtectionsCYoo expresses proper concern about evictions and tenancy issues, promising to educate tenants about their rights. She supports Prop 10 and Yes on 21. However, she again lacks specificity; her platform includes no details on specific tenancy policies. Instead, her rhetoric indicates that her sympathies lean towards “mom and pop” landlords, of whom there are very few in CD 10 (83% corporate ownership of rental stock suggests this focus on mom-and-pop landlords is misguided).
CriminalizationD+Yoo supports limited reallocation of law enforcement budgets. She suggests that the strife between law enforcement and the community is a matter of “better communication,” and would urge her would-be constituents to treat police  “with respect.” Yoo has not commented on the Special Enforcement and Cleanup Zones and appears to have a lack of familiarity with ordinances criminalizing homelessness in Los Angeles. Her emphasis on the importance of “inner city cleanups” and “cleaning streets” raises concerns about how she would vote on sweeps and criminalization.
Depth of KnowledgeDYoo tends to avoid providing specific policy proposals by promising to request more funding from the state level, which is important but overlooks measures that she could still pursue as a City Councilwoman. Yoo’s tendency to oversimplify challenges with “common sense solutions” — some of which have already launched and did not meet much success —  indicate her lack of fluency on these issues.
Additional NotesYoo, along with Supervisor District 2 candidate Jake Jeong, led protests against a proposed homeless shelter in Koreatown which platformed vitriolic anti-homeless rhetoric and spread misleading information about the project.

Los Angeles City Council District 4

Nithya Raman, City Council District 4 Candidate
Overall GradeA
Housing PolicyARaman has a very detailed housing platform that includes support for social housing and thorough plans for incentivizing development of affordable housing through funding and zoning. Her platform also calls for protecting affordable housing that exists currently calling on the urgency to preserve soon to be expiring affordable covenants. She also promotes converting units that exist into affordable housing stock and ‘fist-step’ housing.  She has endorsed the Homes Guarantee, a national platform to ensure safe, accessible, sustainable and permanently affordable housing for every American.
Homelessness ServicesARaman’s platform focuses on providing services through neighborhood level Community Access Centers that would also make case management more accessible to people experiencing homelessnes. She tackles “the gulf between rhetoric and reality” on homelessness from our city government, championing services over criminalization. She notably has experience in service delivery as she co-founded SELAH, a mutual aid organization that provides services to the homeless and her campaign has engaged in mutual aid efforts.
Renter ProtectionsARaman’s platform includes support for tenant’s right to counsel, temporary rental assistance, and enhanced rent control. She has endorsed Prop 21 and her website features a robust rent forgiveness plan that goes beyond just rent-stabilized units and addresses landlord concerns as well.
CriminalizationARaman’s platform calls for more services and less policing of the unhoused community. She has endorsed the Services not Sweeps platform and would be a strong advocate against the criminalization of homelessness. She has consistently called for reallocating police spending to services, calling back to her experience working for city hall, where she compiled a report that found almost 90% of homelessness spending was on arresting, trying, and jailing people. Her platform also calls out complaint-based homelessness services as “immoral and ineffective.”
Depth of KnowledgeARaman’s experience with SELAH and the details in her platform suggest a strong knowledge of homelessness and housing issues on both a personal and policy level. She has a record of clear and accessible public education on issues, especially on her Twitter account, which shows she’s committed not only to her own campaign but uplifting bigger policy solutions to housing/homelessness issues.
Additional NotesRaman’s campaign has used its public events to educate voters on homelessness and housing, suggesting these issues would be a major focus for her. She does not accept money from developers. There is a lot of passion for her among active nonprofit workers.
David Ryu, City Council District 4 Candidate
Overall GradeD+
Housing PolicyD+Ryu’s rhetoric focuses on moderate-income housing but lacks specificity. According to the State Treasurer’s office, 93% of housing built in CD4 from 2015-18 was luxury or market rate, suggesting affordability is not a priority. He has approved 167 permanent supportive housing units during his time in office, being one of the 3 city councilors that fell short of a target of 222 units, already a modest goal, which most others exceeded by two-fold and more. During the primary, Ryu came under fire for taking developer money, despite pledges to not do so.
Homelessness ServicesD+Ryu has pointed to his past accomplishments but hasn’t offered a clear path forward. Four years after the program started, Ryu has finally proposed a Safe Parking site in his district. In his current platform, he advocates for building housing and expanding mental health resources, but supports using conservatorship to “deal with” unhoused people with mental health issues and “refuse services”, which criminalizes homelessness. He also advocates for a FEMA-like response to end homelessness by centralizing housing production, but it’s not clear on how this will succeed where other slow and ineffective city programs to increase affordable housing stock have not.
Renter ProtectionsCRyu has joined other councilmembers in supporting recent tenant protection legislation, and he supports Ellis Act reform, though his motion on this appears to have stalled in council. Ryu is in favor of Prop 21, which would permanently roll back Cost-Hawkins. Ryu lobbied Sacramento to suspend the Costa-Hawkins Act for limiting local rent control ordinances in April and supported a blanket eviction ban during COVID-19 alongside Councilmember Mike Bonin. Since that motion’s failure, he has introduced watered-down rent forgiveness plans. He also might be a landlord and has not recused himself from votes related to renter protections.
CriminalizationD+Ryu’s voting record is largely pro-criminalization, though recent statements suggest a shift. For example, he has committed to not enforcing the cleanup zones around Bridge Home projects in his district. Prior to his campaign, he called for more cops and minimal reforms. While campaigning in the 2020 primary, he received $45,000 from the Los Angeles Police Protective League. His platform’s continued focus on conservatorship raises concern of using criminalization as a component of homelessness response.
Depth of KnowledgeD+Ryu has experience as an incumbent, but his lack of detailed plans or platforms suggest he’s unlikely to lead on housing and homelessness issues. His recent campaign materials and public statements have mischaracterized his opponents’ work with SELAH, a neighborhood homelessness group. During his relatively short tenure, Ryu has both supported and opposed motions limiting where unhoused people can sleep on streets or live in vehicles.
Additional NotesHe often overstates his success in approving permanent supportive housing in his district. He recently avoided tough votes on furloughs, suggesting a willingness to avoid tough decisions.

Los Angeles County Supervisor District 2

Holly J. Mitchell, Supervisor District 2 Candidate
OverallB+
Housing PolicyBMitchell is a strong advocate for affordable housing, and her platform offers detailed plans on reducing speculation and expanding inclusionary zoning. She also wants to expand the use of community land trusts, and voted for SB 196 to do so at the state level. This is a cause that could use more support on the board. Mitchell voted at the state level to establish a right to affordable housing. She also advocates for expanded incentives for the creation of accessory dwelling units. She’s spoken about the need to remove speculation from the housing market. Her record is solid, but tends more toward reforms than transformational change.
Homelessness ServicesBMitchell understands that homeless services are broad, and her platform offers detailed proposals ranging from expanding ADUs, keeping board and care homes, and Section 8 discrimination. While there is little mention of street-level services, the proposals she offers are important and necessary. However, her record on youth justice and preventing system-involved youth from becoming homeless suggests she understands the need for both homeless housing and homelessness prevention measures.
Renter ProtectionsBMitchell’s largest accomplishment on behalf of tenants was a bill banning source of income discrimination, making housing more accessible to those who receive public assistance. and she’s consistently voted for tenant protections at the state level. Her support for community land trusts includes the goal of tenant-ownership, removing housing from the speculative market. Mitchell listens to the concerns of tenant activists and other community groups in her opposition to gentrification. We’d like to see more specificity in her future plans to protect tenants.
CriminalizationB+Mitchell believes cops should not be part of homeless outreach, and that it should be led by services. She supports Measure J, which would reallocate funding from policing to services. She’s made statements in debates and forums opposing the criminalization of homelessness, disagreeing with Mark Ridley-Thomas’s vote to support criminalization in federal court. She’s made a point of refusing money from police unions, and her work at the state level on youth justice suggests her instincts are right on these issues.
Depth of KnowledgeAIn her campaigning and her platforms, Mitchell shows a deep fluency with state and local policy on homelessness and housing. Her proposals on homelessness are more detailed than other candidates in this race. Her record at the state level of sponsoring and supporting useful housing legislation suggest she’s a serious policy maker who will support policies and programs that will improve LA’s housing system.
Additional NotesMitchell has a strong perspective on issues, and isn’t easily swayed by public pressure – this is both a blessing and a curse. With that said, her history of working with activists and challenging assumptions on housing and criminal justice make her a useful voice in those important conversations.
Herb Wesson Jr., Supervisor District 2 Candidate
OverallC+
Housing PolicyCWesson has advocated for more affordable housing and lately has focused more on gentrification and protecting communities. He wants to restrict the sale of public land, requiring that it be used for 100% affordable housing. He has exceeded his permanent supportive housing goals for his district. His current platform pushes for more inclusionary zoning and focuses on expanding housing for low-income and homeless people. However, Wesson’s history with developers complicates this, as he’s approved luxury housing in the face of opposition from city planners and the community.
Homelessness ServicesCWesson has been a strong advocate for housing and shelters, though projects have seen major delays. After 29 months, the CD 10 Bridge Home at LaFayette Park has yet to open. Wesson helped push other City Council members to do more on this issue. While his advocacy on this issue is admirable, his time representing CD10 has not demonstrated a true sense of urgency on this issue. Like other councilmembers, he has taken criticism for the city’s failure to provide adequate cooling centers during recent heat waves, though notably (and perhaps too late) helped open up Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza as a cooling center. He has been on the right side of these issues, but often slowly and quietly.
Renter ProtectionsCWesson was part of a recent City Council push to protect renters, though the City Council was often slow to act under his presidency. Tenants’ right to counsel, which would help many avoid eviction, sat unpassed under his watch. His platform as Supervisor calls for a number of new programs and protections to help tenants remain in place, and was an advocate on council for COVID protections. He supports the removal of Costa Hawkins.
CriminalizationC+Wesson voted for a number of criminalization measures as a City Councilor, but remained silent during more recent fights over 85.02 and 41.18 (car dwelling and street sleeping bans, respectively.) More recently, he’s taken a stronger role fighting for alternatives to policing, and recently received the endorsements of Melina Abdullah from BLM-LA and Pete White of LACAN. Unfortunately, he’s also endorsed by the LA Police Protective League. Wesson is a supporter of Measure J. We appreciate his public commitment not to add police enforcement around the planned LaFayette Park shelter.
Depth of KnowledgeBWesson has experience on homelessness policy, and his platform includes a number of detailed proposals. His personal experience with homelessness is also an important factor.
Additional NotesHerb Wesson has shown growth on these issues, which we appreciate, but his preference for behind-the-scenes politics can make his exact positions difficult to nail down at times. This approach has occasionally led to scandal, and his closeness with indicted Councilman Jose Huizar gives us pause. While he has a history of working with community groups, we’re concerned that his political approach is more transactional that transformational.

Los Angeles County District Attorney

George Gascón, District Attorney Candidate
Overall GradeB+
Overall Criminal Justice PolicyB+Gascón aims to be a reformer in LA – while there are questions about his past career in policing and as San Francisco’s DA, his platform presents a number of detailed proposals to improve the DA’s office. We see value in a DA who plainly includes the following in their platform: “correctional facilities are fundamentally places of punishment and control, not treatment and rehabilitation.” He has expressed a desire to abolish broken systems including the CalGang database and the death penalty. His proposals demonstrate a depth of thought about how to reform the DA’s role, and he faces strong opposition from the LA Police Protective league.
Criminalization of HomelessnessB+Gascón has been a vocal opponent of policing as a response to homelessness and supported efforts to reduce prosecutions for minor lifestyle infractions. His plans emphasize the need for less jailing and more mental health treatment. He was a coauthor of Prop 47, which reduced penalties for many crimes, and has endorsed Measure J in LA County.
Focus on HomelessnessB+Gascón, in both his public statements and his official campaign materials, demonstrates a detailed understanding of how homelessness and the criminal justice system interact. Gascón’s platform and public statements show that he’s in conversation with activists. He has also been vocal on the need for the DA to take on bad landlords and put resources into eviction defense.
Additional NotesGascón is notable for the depth of his proposals, which demonstrate a commitment to the nuts and bolts of making change within a large and complex criminal justice system. While some questions remain about his past conduct, his platform offers policies that will improve conditions for unhoused people dealing with the criminal justice system.

Los Angeles County District Attorney

Jackie Lacey, District Attorney Candidate
Overall GradeF
Overall Criminal Justice PolicyFJackie Lacey has tried to rebrand as a “progressive prosecutor,” but the LA Times has described her record as “punishment-first.” Her office has filed charges on minor crimes at higher rates than San Francisco under Gascón. On a variety of issues, especially police shootings and bail reform, Jackie Lacey has “sought to preserve the status quo.” She quietly recused herself from a recent LAPD shooting case because of her ties to the LAPD’s union. Lacey has also demonstrated antipathy to protesters, both in general and in an incident at her home, when her husband pointed a gun at Melina Abdullah of Black Lives Matter LA.
Criminalization of HomelessnessFWhile Lacey’s public statements have suggested she opposes criminalization, her office’s record on programs to clear warrants and avoid prosecuting quality of life crimes has been mixed. According to criminal justice advocates, she has made misleading statements about her office’s role in prosecuting unhoused people for minor lifestyle crimes.
Focus on HomelessnessFJackie Lacey’s issue platform does not mention homelessness. She has made some efforts to focus on diversion for those with mental illnesses, but her failure to even mention the most important issue facing our city is troubling. Under intense pressure, her office did bring charges against LAPD Officer Frank Hernandez for assaulting an unhoused man. While we appreciate this choice, we remain skeptical that it suggests a new direction in Lacey’s thinking on these issues.
Additional NotesLacey’s office has long faced intense criticism from activists, but since the primary, Rep. Adam Schiff, Rep. Laura Friedman, Mayor Garcetti, and Councilmember Herb Wesson have all pulled their endorsements of Jackie Lacey.

State Assembly District 53

Miguel Santiago, State Assembly District 53
OverallC
Housing PolicyCMiguel Santiago has two signature accomplishments on housing policy – AB 1197, which streamlined the process for building homeless housing and shelter projects, and AB 686, which maintained fair housing rules that were under assault by the Trump administration. While these are useful actions, they fail to meet the urgent requirements of the moment – we’d like to see candidates taking more aggressive action to expand the availability of truly affordable housing.
Homelessness ServicesCSantiago has been useful in providing funding to local homeless services – he mentions allocating over $1b to this goal, and has pushed for additional funding which ultimately failed to pass. He also authored AB 1275 and 728, which provided for small expansions to local homeless services. While Santiago is involved in the conversation on homelessness, his statements and campaign materials are light on specifics, and don’t provide a forward-looking vision for solving homelessness.
Renter ProtectionsC+Santiago has a positive record on renter protections – he was a coauthor of AB 1436, providing relief to tenants and small landlords during COVID. He also authored AB 1482, which provided some protection to tenants from large rent increases. Santiago has also endorsed Prop 21, aimed at expanding rent control. Santiago’s record is pro-tenant, but as in other areas we’d like to see him fighting for more substantial changes rather than stopgap measures.
CriminalizationD+Recently, Santiago has supported bills that ban chokeholds and provide protections to protesters facing police violence by banning certain munitions and creating clearer use-of-force standards. However, some of his past stances on criminalization issues are concerning. He was co-author of AB 1971, which sought to expand conservatorship, making it easier for the state to take control of people’s affairs. Disability and civil rights groups took issue, and we share their concerns. Santiago also faced criticism for a 2017 bill that made it harder to punish officers for false statements. He has taken money from police to support his campaign. Because of these past stances, we have concerns about whether his more recent actions are representative of his views.
Depth of KnowledgeC+Miguel Santiago is the Chair of the Select Committee on LA Homelessness, which has held hearings around the area on the issue. As with other state and local committees, we question the value of this effort. While this indicates familiarity with the subject, it makes it more stark that Santiago has not put forward a future-looking platform on homelessness.
Additional NotesIn addition to specific policy issues, members raised concerns about Santiago’s record of paying more attention to donors and outside interest groups than community concerns.
Godfrey Santos Plata, State Assembly District 53
OverallA-
Housing PolicyAGodfrey Santos Plata’s platform includes a number of creative proposals to address housing. He’s a supporter of community land trusts, and wants to end rules that require a ballot measure before public housing can be built. He’s endorsed the Homes Guarantee, a package of policies to address a variety of housing issues. Other small-scale ideas indicate an interest in the details of fixing our housing problems. Santos Plata has also pledged to turn down money from the real estate industry.
Homelessness ServicesASantos Plata’s background has made him a voice for activists on homelessness issues. His platform acknowledges the need for real sanitation services like bathrooms and trash collection, and he supports state-level policies to address police and sanitation programs that violate property rights, Both of these are specific demands of the Services Not Sweeps coalition. Santos Plata has demonstrated a personal commitment to doing homeless outreach in his community. Supports state to prevent seizure of property during sweeps.
Renter ProtectionsASantos Plata’s platform on renter issues demonstrates a depth of knowledge and a wide range of ideas. Santos Plata outlines plans to repeal Costa Hawkins, which prevents local governments from enacting rent control policies, and the Ellis Act, which is used to displace low-income renters. He’s a proponent of tenants’ right to counsel, and offers creative ideas on zoning reform, tenant co-ownership, and vacancy regulation. He would also be the only renter in the state legislature, providing a unique perspective in Sacramento’s housing debate.
CriminalizationA-Santos Plata seeks to divert funds from policing to communities “harmed by racism and policing,” aiming to improve services and housing. He’s endorsed Measure J, which does this at a county level. He wants the state to remove police from schools. He has also pledged not to take donations from law enforcement.
Depth of KnowledgeB+Santos Plata’s platform is full of good ideas, and we appreciate that he seeks to view issues through a lens of inclusivity and racial justice. Around homelessness, however, his platform could provide more specificity. His instincts are good and he understands tenant issues deeply, but he is less experienced than other candidates running in Ktown races.
Additional NotesSantos Plata is active in local community organizing spaces, and is endorsed by Ground Game and Sunrise LA, and recommended by DSA.

House of Representatives District 34

Jimmy Gomez House District 34
OverallC+
Housing PolicyC+Gomez has sponsored and cosponsored legislation to direct more funding and resources to affordable housing production and emergency relief and expansion for federal housing programs like Section 8. He also supports expanding federal public housing and discrimination protection. He has not endorsed the Homes Guarantee and is not a visionary in this area.
Homelessness ServicesC+Gomez is an advocate of directing federl funds to programs that assist people experiencing homelessness, such as the Emergency Solutions Grant and grant programs that benefit homeless youth and transitional living for homeless veterans. He co-sponsored the End Homelessness Act of 2019, which would provide grants to jurisdictions with the highest need and for the Housing Trust Fund for very-low income and extremely-low income families and individuals.
Renter ProtectionsCHe supports the HEROES Act, which is broadly similar to Ilhan Omar’s bill but asks for a rent moratorium rather than cancellation. He refused to endorse Omar’s bill and the LA Tenants Union protested at his house as a result. He co-sponsored the Rent Relief Act of 2019, which would give a refundable tax credit to the rent burdened.
CriminalizationCGomez co-sponsored the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which would expand police oversight & documentation of misconduct. He also supports a 2-year moratorium on police use of facial recognition technology.
Depth of KnowledgeCHe has a lot of knowledge on increasing federal funding for housing and solutions to homelessness. It’s unclear how in touch he is with the experiences of his constituents when it comes to paying high rents and struggling with homelessness, especially during COVID-19 or if he’s managed to pass any bills that would help them.
Additional NotesBased on the bills he sponsors, Gomez is an incremental reformist rather than a visionary in housing and homelessnes policy and in criminalization. He advocates against “dark money” but is funded by PACs representing interests like real estate. Based on feedback from members living in his district, he is difficult to reach as a constituent.
David Kim, House District 34
OverallA-
Housing PolicyA-David Kim endorsed the Homes Guarantee and wants to remove exclusionary zoning policies by promising to pass HR.4351 and S.1919 (the “Yes in my Backyard Act). He also supports establishing occupancy percentage minimums for low-income residents in new housing developments.
Homelessness ServicesB+Kim leans on Homes Guarantee policy proposals in this area, which is perhaps appropriate at the federal level. He wants to build more permanent supportive housing, which combines affordable housing with free onsite wraparound services for the unhoused. He is a big proponent of universal basic income, which could help unhoused residents become stable enough to access services and is running a UBI pilot program.
Renter ProtectionsA-He supports robust renter protections, including a national tenant bill of rights, as outlined in the Homes Guarantee platform. He also supports U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar’s rent cancellation bill.
CriminalizationAKim explicitly calls for defunding the police and would reallocate funds to housing stability and mental health services. He consistently shows up for protests against police violence, actions for Services Not Sweeps, and doesn’t make it all about himself. He was one of the last people left at a Black Lives Matter protest in front of the LA Mayor’s residence that ended with cops rounding everyone up.
Depth of KnowledgeB+His policy platform shows that he understands the intersectionality of issues that face constituents and how important housing stability is in resolving them. He consistently centers grassroots activists in his volunteer and activist work.
Additional NotesHe has endorsements from Sunrise Movement LA, CA Progressive Alliance and former presidential candidate Andrew Yang. He’s a federal UBI proponent of $1000 a month and launched a pilot program recently.

Ballot Propositions

As an extension of our work on housing and homelessness, Ktown for All has endorsed two ballot measures in the 2020 general election. Ktown for All chose to abstain from endorsing ballot propositions we did not actively campaign for. However, we’d encourage you to consult the following guides, which offer thoughtful takes on other propositions that impact areas connected to our work on housing and homelessness: voting rights (Propositions 17 and 18), criminal justice (Propositions 17, 20 and 25), and property taxes (Propositions 15 and 19). We recommend our members to refer to other voter guides including KNOCK.LA, DSA-LA, and LA Podcast.

County Measure J
YESMeasure J sets a 10% minimum allocation in the LA County budget toward health, housing, and jobs. The goal of this measure is to address the legacies of disinvestment and discrimination against low-income communities and communities of color. Measure J explicitly aims to replace punishment with prevention, reducing the need for police response by investing in community and individual wellness. Measure J is supported by a broad coalition including community groups, labor unions, and most of our local elected officials. Ktown for all believes Measure J will improve conditions for our unhoused neighbors. Most importantly, Measure J makes direct investments in housing and treatment that will help unhoused people access help and get into housing. Shifting resources from incarceration to treatment offers an opportunity to reduce our reliance on police in responding to homelessness. Investments in housing programs will also keep people housed, slowing the rate at which people become homeless.
State Proposition 21
YESProp 21 will allow for the expansion of rent control in municipalities throughout California. While the proposition is similar to Prop 10, which we endorsed in the previous election cycle, Prop 21 provides a clearer, more detailed picture of how it would change the Costa-Hawkins Act, which currently prevents cities from adding newer units to the rent-controlled housing stock. It would give cities across the state more freedom to address the problems in their local housing markets. Prop 21 makes any building 15 years or older eligible to be placed under a rent-stabilization ordinance. It exempts the smallest landlords who rent out a second home, protecting the smallest landlords, but overall expands the types of housing that can be covered by rent control policies. The easiest way to reduce homelessness is to stop the inflow of people into homelessness. As housing prices have climbed around the city, rent has far outpaced wages, leaving more Angelenos than ever rent-burdened. We’ve met too many people living in tents within blocks of a home they could no longer afford due to a sudden and substantial increase in rent. In solidarity with our partners in the tenants’ rights movement, Ktown for All encourages you to vote yes on 21.

Update

It’s come to our attention that Measure HH appears on the ballots of some folks in our network. This measure only applies to a small subset of Los Angeles, but we are getting several inquiries on how we would recommend people to vote on Measure HH. We’d like to caveat that we haven’t had time to do thorough outreach and investigation into this measure, and although we are very supportive of fire prevention, we have significant concerns on the language of “removing illegal encampments” that is included in the ballot language. This vague language without any details of the removal process or whether neighbors would be responsibly removed without appropriate housing options pose a concern. Therefore we cannot recommend anyone to vote yes on any sort of ballot measure that has potential to displace unhoused individuals.