ONE BIG THING: ONE YEAR IN OFFICE – HOUSING AND HOMELESSNESS
A year ago, we took office and brought the community into City Hall. Even though we have so much work left to do, we’ve made some amazing progress in year one, so we wanted to take a look at what we accomplished when it comes to the most pressing issues facing our city.
Creating a Full-time Homelessness Team
Before we took office, CD13 had *zero* staffers dedicated full time to the biggest crisis facing our city -- homelessness. That means no one was coordinating with the 40+ service providers that work across our district.
Now with our three-person homelessness team, we have the capacity and experience to tackle this crisis with the compassion and sophistication we need.
Filling Every Shelter Bed in CD13
When we took office, nearly 15% of the shelter beds in our district available for unhoused people were going completely unused on an average night. At one of our shelter locations, the vacancy rate was 50%.
But now, thanks to the work of our homelessness team along with community partners, our interim housing/shelter bed capacity is at 100%, with dozens of more folks in the queue ready for a place to stay as soon as a bed opens up.
Schools and Sensitive Areas
There were large encampments in front of Virgil Middle School and Selma Avenue Elementary on and off for YEARS before we took office. Everyday, children would walk in the street past these encampments on the way to school, and when the previous administration would sweep the encampment residents down the block, they would just return within a couple of days.
But this year when we worked with Mayor Bass to offer real housing options and mental health/addiction treatment, folks were overwhelmingly accepting of the services and we were able to move over 150 people from in front of these schools into a stable living situation for the first time in years.
The areas around both schools have remained clear ever since – offering proof that sweeps don't solve homelessness -- only housing and services can do that.
Echo Park Lake
The situation at Echo Park Lake in 2021 was stain on our city. When 400 police officers came to close and fence the park, at least 16 journalists were detained, hundreds of peaceful protesters were arrested, and only 8% of people experiencing homelessness at the lake were connected to permanent housing.
It was the biggest homelessness policy failure in the history of Los Angeles, and for a time, it made our entire city a national embarrassment. So when we took office, we knew that we needed to handle this process the right way. To us, that meant that we wanted to hear the community’s input and make sure we had the resources in place for once the fence was removed.
More than six months later, the park is as safe, welcoming, and beautiful as ever. We were able to make this project a success so far because we listened to what people wanted to see in the park. We set up service providers and outreach workers to be at the park 7 days-a-week, and a team of unarmed responders available during nighttime hours if any issues arise.
The Strongest Renter Protections in a Generation
1. Just Cause Eviction Protections
Put simply, this means that landlords are now prohibited from evicting tenants for no reason.
Previously, renters who lived in non-Rent-Controlled units (built since 1979) could be kicked out of their homes for no reason. That's just plain wrong: nobody should lose their home through no fault of their own.
2. Rent Debt Threshold
This protection prevents renters from being evicted for being a day late or a dollar short on rent – tenants now cannot be evicted for owing less than one month of rent.
3. Relocation Assistance to Prevent Price-Gouging
Under this new protection, tenants who experience an unreasonable rent hike are entitled to a relocation fee that will help them find a new apartment and get back on their feet. Landlords who raise the rent by over 10% must pay the relocation fee equivalent to 3 months “fair-market rent.”
Preventing a Catastrophic 7% Rent Increase
As we’ve covered in recent weeks, we recently passed an ordinance that lowers the maximum allowable rent increase for rent-controlled units to 4% as opposed to the previously scheduled 7% limit.
This came after we introduced a motion with Councilmember Eunisses Hernandez to delay the rent hike entirely for six months as we wait for an evidence-based report from the Housing Department about how to fix our city’s rent control system.
Unfortunately, that motion did not pass, but we were able to avoid the catastrophic 7% rent hike that was originally scheduled to hit tenants in February.
Streamlining Housing Production
We’ve already seen over 2,500 units of affordable housing enter the pipeline in our district alone this past year, including 1,262 units (and counting!) of expedited affordable housing thanks to Mayor Bass’ Executive Directive 1.
We also passed a motion this year that will streamline the construction of affordable housing on public land. There are vacant and underutilized public lots all over the city where we can be, and should be, building affordable housing. Our motion put us on track to make that vision a reality.
Two More Quick Hits!
1. Echo Park Community Parade
We’re so excited to join this 50+ year tradition, so make sure to say hi when you see our tent on the parade route!
2. Atwater Tree Lighting
TOMORROW, December 10 from 5pm-7pm, come out for special performances, an ugly sweater competition, prizes, music, and so much more.