Economic & Housing Justice

Rent control campaigns win and new report links high rents to increasing homelessness

July 18, 2019
By Shirley Vilca

The 2019 Homeless Count paints a dire picture of L.A.’s homelessness crisis, including a 12 percent increase in people living on the streets. Skyrocketing rents, evictions and flat wages are leading to homelessness for tens of thousands of people. Now, more than ever, we need permanent rent caps and eviction protections to keep a roof over every head. 

Fortunately, activists throughout the County, with support from Liberty Hill are building momentum and winning! After 3 years of organizing, the Uplift Inglewood Coalition secured a victory last week: The Inglewood City Council voted to pass permanent rent control with 5% rent caps in most cases and eviction protections, including relocation assistance! 

Additionally, alongside our partners, Liberty Hill released a report this month demonstrating the need for rent control in unincorporated L.A. County, and held a media briefing that resulted in multiple news articles. Just in time for the Board of Supervisors vote in August, these activities are giving a much needed boost to the grassroots campaign for permanent rent control in unincorporated areas. Liberty Hill is proud to provide critical funding, training and campaign support to renters across the county who are fighting for tenant protections.  

Created in collaboration with academics and organizers, our new report is entitled “Priced Out, Locked Out, Pushed Out: How Permanent Tenant Protections Can Help Communities Prevent Homelessness and Resist Displacement in Los Angeles County.”

Check out this recent article about the report on Curbed L.A. 

The first of its kind, this report uses data to show how evictions, high prices and rent increases destabilize tenants throughout unincorporated areas of L.A. County. We know that 29 percent of the 403,290 tenants in unincorporated L.A. spend more than half of their income on rent. When these tenants experience rent increases, it’s more likely that they will have to forgo groceries and other important expenses, or that they will not be able to afford rent at all. Tenants who spoke with the report’s authors talked about the emotional and psychological toll of housing insecurity. The report makes an incontrovertible case for permanent rent caps, a strong set of data and narratives that the Board of Supervisors has told us is essential to counter very well-funded opposition by the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles. The report also makes the case that rent caps create more stable housing for tenants and landlords.     

We hope the Board of Supervisors will vote in August to convert the temporary rent stabilization ordinance into permanent law. Under the temporary ordinance, landlords cannot raise rents  more than three percent annually, and can no longer evict tenants without valid reasons. We look forward to seeing similar policies with stronger enforcement tools in the permanent ordinance. 

Check out a video from the rally that took place when we passed temporary rent caps and eviction protections for unincorporated L.A. County! 

We are grateful to the tenants and activists of Unincorporated Tenants United for leading the charge. Unincorporated Tenants United is a coalition of tenants, legal advocates and community organizations, supported and coordinated by Liberty Hill to fight for tenant rights in unincorporated Los Angeles County. Members of the coalition include:  ACCE Action, East L.A. Community Corporation, East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice, Eastside LEADS, Glendale Tenants Union, Housing Long Beach, InnerCity Struggle, L.A. Voice, Greater Long Beach ICO, Los Angeles Center for Community Law and Action, L.A. CAN (Los Angeles Community Action Network), L.A. Tenants Union, Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, Pasadena Tenants Union, Public Counsel, Pomona Economic Opportunity Center, Pomona United for Stable Housing, Strategic Actions for a Just Economy (SAJE), Uplift Inglewood, Inquilinos Unidos, and Anti-Eviction Mapping Project.

Big thanks to Supervisors Sheila Kuehl and Hilda Solis for championing this critical policy.  

Read on to learn more about recent Agenda for a Just Future updates on Youth Justice and Environmental Justice!