Power In Partnership: From Wins to Implementation
Bridging the Fights for Reproductive Health & Housing Justice
Bell Gardens Rent Control
Amidst the housing crisis, organizers and advocates in smaller cities throughout Los Angeles County have been advancing tenant protections and rent control campaigns to help keep people in their homes. And the movement for housing justice is finding new allies in parallel movements like reproductive justice in which the concerns of residents overlap and partnership can be the difference between victory and implementation.
As we saw this past year, with the repeal of Roe v. Wade, and the restrictions on reproductive health that followed, in order to win the fight to protect our rights and freedoms we have to be in it together.
Thanks to the collective work of our partners from Unión de Vecinas, California Latinas for Reproductive Justice (CLRJ), and East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice (EYCEJ)—who came together from across their various movements—the Bell Gardens City Council unanimously passed a rent stabilization ordinance that limited annual rent increases to once a year with a 4% ceiling. The tireless work of our cross-movement coalition of partners was crucial to making Bell Gardens the first city in South East LA—and the first majority Latinx city in the state—to pass a rent control measure. This is the true power of coalition-building.
"When the pandemic hit, we had to adjust all of our strategies. We worked with our partners and a group of Latina women in Bell Gardens for two years, organizing a pilot program, listening and engaging with the community to find out what they needed," said Laura Jimenez, Executive Director of CA Latinas for Reproductive Justice.
"This is a community that is composed of more than 80% renters, and 95% are Latinx families, so there was a need to broaden the idea and scope of what reproductive justice can be. If you’re thinking about having children, one of the first things you’re going to consider is do you have a stable place to live—are you in a violent relationship, a neighborhood where police violence against people of color is high, an apartment where the landlord won’t make critical repairs or quality-of-life improvements—these are all questions we have to look at as reproductive justice issues as well."
Laura continues, "As a reproductive justice organization, we had never done housing work before, but we were able to jump into coalitions and learn a lot from our partners in this housing justice work about what had been going on locally in Bell Gardens. Looking at this through a reproductive justice lens allowed us to understand that whether you have an abortion or whether or not you have children is almost never just a question of what’s happening inside your body, it’s also a function of the environment in which you live."
As a reproductive justice organization, we had never done housing work before, but we were able to jump into coalitions and learn a lot from our partners in this housing justice work about what had been going on locally in Bell Gardens.