South Los Angeles Residents Receive a Holiday Miracle on 39thStreet!
The City of Los Angeles has uncovered new legal requirements that will protect thirteen local families from steep rent increases that threatened them with displacement or homelessness just before Christmas.
LOS ANGELES –Thirteen families in South Los Angeles are breathing a sigh of relief after a last-minute finding by the Los Angeles Housing and Community Investment Department (HCID) determined that they were protected from huge rent increases due to take effect just before Christmas.
For years the low income families at 1015 W 39thStreet had been paying between $390 and $600 a month in rent for their modest apartments in South Los Angeles, but in October some tenants received notice that their rent would more than double on the first of December, in some cases going up to $1200 a month. Tenants had thought that the building was covered by Los Angeles’ Rent Stabilization Ordinance, but due to a technicality it is not, and the rent increases would have left affected residents, some of whom make only $12,000 a year, displaced, and — if they could not afford to either move or pay the higher rent — facing eviction or homelessness.
Residents turned to a local community organization, Strategic Actions for a Just Economy (SAJE), which runs a tenant clinic for low-income renters. SAJE asked their City Councilman, Curren Price, to get involved, and together they requested that the Los Angeles Housing and Community Investment Department (HCID) investigate the situation. After studying the problem, HCID found that a separate legally-binding covenant on the property protected renters against large rent increases and would preserve the building as affordable housing.
When they received the updated notice from the landlord — the Wednesday before Thanksgiving — many of the tenants thought it was a miracle. As you can imagine, getting to stay in their own homes felt like a Miracle on 39th Street. Building resident Ernesto Sanchez said “Not knowing where you're going to be sleeping during the holidays is something I don't hope to experience again. Thankfully, I could use this event as a learning experience. From this I learned my rights as a renter and why those rights are important... As scary as this experience has been for me, the outcome only made me stronger and wiser.”
While the outcome for tenants on 39thStreet is a happy holiday surprise, the city councilmember that stepped in to help notes that enforcing tenant rights and ensuring that there is adequate affordable housing is important all year round. "During this holiday season, and everyday, we need to make sure that we do everything we can to help Angeleno's have access to fair and affordable housing. Having a roof over your head is one of the most basic necessities, and I was happy that my office was able to step in, ensuring tenant's rights were honored," said Councilman Curren Price. Affordable housing and equitable development are especially crucial in transit corridor planning if we want to meet our climate change goals. It is imperative that we prevent the displacement of low-income tenants, who make up the largest share of core-transit riders. The tenants on 39thStreet live near a new transit corridor and the displacement pressures they and their neighbors face will continue to exacerbate without a systematic approach to equitable development in transit corridors.
Recent reports have shown that the number of homeless children in the U.S. has risen to as much as one in thirty, with California particularly affected. With rents in Los Angeles rising, the families at 1015 W 39thStreet demonstrate that more affordable housing is desperately needed as a key way to prevent homelessness for children and adults alike, as well as an important step in stabilizing communities, keeping neighbors together, and meeting our climate change goals.