OPEN LETTER TO LA CITY COUNCIL
Housing Is A Human Right
6500 Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90027
21 April 2020
Honorable City Council Members (click here to leave public comment for City Council)
Los Angeles City Council
200 North Spring Street
Los Angeles. CA 90017
Dear City Council Members:
As housing justice advocates from Housing Is A Human Right (HHR) — an advocacy organization dedicated to making sure housing becomes a human right — we are submitting this letter in regards to the City Council hearing to be held on April 22, 2020.
Given the unprecedented public health crisis and massive economic impact, caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, now more than ever, your constituents desperately need adequate tenants protection.
We applaud the City Council for taking on these issues. We would also, of course, like to see more.
In regards to item #37, we strongly support the City taking action to freeze rent increases for all rental housing units. Since a statewide stay at home order was put in place to protect Californians from the spread of the coronavirus, over 3 million Californians have filed for unemployment, and the unemployment rate is likely to climb to levels unseen since the Great Depression. State and local officials need to act to ensure renters in Los Angeles and across California do not face increased housing insecurity at a time of economic collapse. We, therefore, support all efforts to ensure Los Angeles renters do not face unsustainable rent increases in the short- and medium-term, which will only prolong the pain and hamper the economic recovery. Los Angeles must call for the immediate suspension of the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act of 1995 to remove barriers to the City's powers to protect renters. Failure to act will result in hundreds of thousands of renters losing their homes over the coming year.
In addition, we call on City Council to endorse the Rental Affordability Act —a proposed ballot initiative that would allow cities and counties to expand rent control in California.
Furthermore, we have also added additional comments for the following items:
#11 - SUPPORT IF AMENDED. We support all efforts that prevent inequitable distribution and availability of goods at all times, but especially during a crisis. Price gouging is a problem we see throughout the City. Strong measures must be taken to halt it and apply appropriate consequences. This measure needs to be more specific as to what constitutes price gouging and what penalties will be imposed; it needs to be in line with any existing rules, regulations, ordinances, and statutes.
#25 - SUPPORT IF AMENDED. We urge the City Council to enact actions for the distribution of parking permits for front line medical staff. Seattle, which has been heavily impacted by COVID cases since early March, quickly adopted a permit program to allow hospital staff to park on nearby streets. This permit, which began on March 30, reduces some of the stress involved in going to work for these essential healthcare workers. Los Angeles is a city infamous for high traffic and minimal available parking. With this item, which would make temporary parking zones for medical providers, LA can show their healthcare workers that we appreciate their hard work by reducing the time and stress involved in hunting for a parking space at work. The concern we have with this streamlining process for street closures is that it should not result in moving, disrupting, or harassing unhoused people during this emergency. Further, we have concerns that specific, enforceable provisions for ending this easier process for closing streets after the urgent needs of dealing with the coronavirus have ended.
#28 - SUPPORT. We ask that the City Council use all its efforts and relationships to negotiate with lenders to help keep our residents housed. We should be able to carry any unpaid portion of a mortgage to the end of the mortgage to give homeowners and landlords a chance to get back up on their feet. Extensions to pay back mortgage payments must match our renter's relief to be extended for 12 months to have consistency and realistic deadlines.
#29 - SUPPORT.
#33 - SUPPORT. We strongly urge City Council to adopt this motion to find and fill any gaps in federal assistance for Undocumented immigrants impacted by COVID-19 in Los Angeles. In California, there are 2.3 million undocumented immigrants, and they contribute 2.5 billion in state and local taxes. Los Angeles has the highest number of undocumented immigrants in the entire State, with upwards of 814,000. This community is part of the fabric of our City and contributes to its diversity and wealth. They deserve as much help as any Angeleno because, in the end, they are Angelenos.
#34 - SUPPORT. As transportation continues to be an ongoing struggle for those living on the streets of Los Angeles, we support the use of under-utilized City LADOT busses to service our homeless population, including the movement of meals and equipment to areas where our homeless population continues to assemble and for the voluntary transport of homeless individuals to obtain shelter and/or medical needs.
#35 - SUPPORT. We need to ensure that any emergency funds are distributed efficiently and are effective. We must track spending to make sure we are helping as many people as we can.
#38 - SUPPORT. The unprecedented economic dislocation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic demands bold solutions to keep people in their homes, in the interest of public health, social stability, and broader economic well-being. We support the motion to reclassify unpaid rent as a result of this economic shockwave to ensure short-term protections to prevent evictions. We should not merely delay the inevitable displacement of hundreds of thousands of Angelenos over the coming months.
#39 - SUPPORT. There is no debate here - pass this motion NOW! At the height of the Great Depression, there was a 25% unemployment rate across the country. As of today, according to the USC Dornsife Center for Economic and Social Research, only 45% of Angelenos remain employed at the moment. Shelter in place has forced Angelenos to stay at home - no wages, and no work should also mean no rent and no eviction.
#57 - SUPPORT. We support the contracting of hotels, motels, and other lodgings - including vacant units - by the City of Los Angeles to provide isolation for First Responders. Our First Responders have an extremely high exposure rate to COVID-19, may need nearby lodging due to long work hours with short turnaround times, or who run the risk of transmitting COVID-19 to members of their household. The City should provide funds so that the contract may exceed current FEMA rules, allowing for the contracting of entire hotel/ motel properties so that they can employ full-time staff.
#58 - SUPPORT. The protections in U.S.Representative Ilhan Omar's Federal Rent and Mortgage Cancellation Act is the model we support. To the extent that this measure moves our City in the direction of that goal, we support it and urge strengthening it to achieve that goal.
Link to Federal Rent and Mortgage Cancellation Act:
#59 and #62 – SUPPORT. The City is taking a bold step in acknowledging the impacts of COVID-19 on many of our residents. Unfortunately, we as a City are limited when it comes to creating, enforcing, or funding policy that addresses the core of these issues. We support this motion from the City Council for an official City position that would support the funding of programs to keep mortgages and rents paid during this critical time. The Federal Government needs to step up in making sure we can keep people housed now and after the crisis.
#60 - SUPPORT. We applaud the efforts of the City Council to recognize the need to protect our working-class families by protecting their jobs, their homes, and their safety. There are limitations due to State and Federal laws. We also acknowledge the City's leadership in challenging these issues and raising awareness around them. While urged to shelter at home during this crisis, many do not have the means to do so. They also might not have enough paid sick leave time to recover from an illness or take care of a sick family member. That is why we support a City position to expand Federal funding to all workers experiencing sickness during this time.
#61 - SUPPORT IF AMENDED. The City is taking a bold step in acknowledging that COVID impacts many of our residents. Unfortunately, we are limited when it comes to creating, enforcing, or funding policies that address the core of these issues. We support this motion from City Council for an official City position that would support the funding of programs to keep mortgages and rents paid during this critical time for all of us in the State. We would respectfully ask that the motion be expanded for either 12 months or indefinitely. Asking all back due rent and mortgage payments to be made the day after lifting the order is too short of a window of time for people to get back up on their feet.
#63 – SUPPORT. We fully support the extension of visas to ALL employees and workers during this time of crisis. We need to recognize that it's the people working to harvest our food out of the fields that have provided our Nation with the stability we desperately need at this time. We need to support all of our visa holders nationwide and those working on their path to citizenship right now. We need to stand united.
#66 – SUPPORT. We fully support the creation of a Renter Relief Fund for the City. We must ensure this is something that can be funded on the level that it needs to be to provide real relief.
René Christian Moya
Housing Is a Human Right