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New City Council Efforts Address Housing and Homelessness

Frame from a new “Right to Housing” video from City Councilmember Mark Ridley-Thomas


This morning two of our local city council representatives – CD 4’s Nithya Raman and CD 10’s Mark Ridley-Thomas –  released statements on new measures they’re promoting to address the city’s housing and homeless crises.


Tenant Anti-Harassment Ordinance


First, Raman announced that she has suggested a set of amendments to the proposed Tenant Anti-Harassment Ordinance, a city council motion aimed at protecting rental tenants from specific retaliatory actions by landlords. The original motion, first introduced in 2017 by then-Councilmember Jose Huizar, and since promoted by Councilmembers Gil Cedillo and Marqueece Harris-Dawson, is scheduled for a hearing at the Council’s Housing Committee tomorrow (Wednesday, April 14).

“Tenant Harassment is a pernicious problem that contributes to gentrification, displacement, and homelessness in Los Angeles, and this law represents an important step in the right direction,” Raman said in a statement this morning.  “The amendments I am offering are to ensure that the law reflects the many forms of harassment that our office regularly hears about from tenants and tenants groups, and that the proscribed remedies are sufficient to ensure adequate legal representation and deter such unlawful behavior from occurring in the first place.”

According to Raman’s statement, her proposed amendments include additional definitions of tenant harassment, “including offers of cash buyouts that are accompanied by threats or intimidation” and “threats to report false information to government agencies like law enforcement or child protective services.” Both tactics, she said, “are among those documented most frequently by tenants rights organizations and within complaints to the Housing and Community Investment Department, and including them within this ordinance’s definition of tenant harassment is vital to its success.”

In addition, Raman proposed allowing “nonprofit organizations to stand in for tenants in filing civil suits,”and a requirement “that remedies such as compensatory damages and reasonable attorney’s fees be mandatory should a tenant prevail in court.”  Raman said these changes would provide “mechanisms through which low-income tenants can secure legal representation” and would “allow vulnerable tenants to more effectively exercise their new legal rights.”

Finally, Raman also proposed “a rent adjustment penalty…in which units made vacant though a violation of the new ordinance can only be rented at the lawful rent in effect at the time of vacancy.”  Imposing this penalty, she said,  would help protect, “longtime tenants of rent-stabilized apartments [who] are the most common victims of tenant harassment due to state laws that allow for rents to be raised to market rate when a vacancy occurs.”


Right to Housing


Meanwhile, CD 10’s Ridley-Thomas, on the heels of the City Council’s March 3 unanimous vote to create a framework for a Right to Housing for all residents, announced a new three-part video series to help explain what such a framework would include.

According to Ridley-Thomas’s web page on the topic, the framework will:


“…include policy, legal and fiscal recommendations related to establishing a robust and responsive spectrum of housing and support services to prevent Angelenos from becoming homeless and help those who are homeless transition into housing, including:

    • Prevention: tenant protections, eviction defense, affordable rents;

    • Interim Housing: specialized beds such as mental health beds, substance use beds and recuperative care beds, non-congregate shelter such as Project Roomkey;

    • Permanent Housing: short-term and longer-term rental assistance, supportive housing, Homekey, adult residential facilities for those who need a higher-level of care; and

    • Street Strategy: standardized procedures that include client-centered and health-focused protocols to engage individuals living on the streets and help them transition into housing, while supporting safe and hygienic spaces in the interim.”


The first of his three new videos promoting the effort (see below) “describes the vision behind establishing a Right to Housing.”  According to Ridley-Thomas, this will be followed by another video next week, introducing “the four main pillars of a Right to Housing: prevention, interim housing, permanent housing and street engagement.”  And then a third video, scheduled for release in two weeks, will “examine the Venice/I-10 Freeway Encampment to Home Project which elucidates how this vision can be put into practice.”

“When we talk about a ‘Right to Housing,’ we talk about creating a safety net that obligates the government to not only aid Angelenos in transitioning off the streets and into interim and permanent housing, but also to prevent homelessness in the first place,” Ridley-Thomas said in a statement about the new videos. “Just as we have the right to vote and a right to clean air – every man, woman, and child needs a place to call home.”


Right to Housing from Mark Ridley-Thomas on Vimeo.

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Elizabeth Fuller
Elizabeth Fuller
Elizabeth Fuller was born and raised in Minneapolis, MN but has lived in LA since 1991 - with deep roots in both the Sycamore Square and West Adams Heights-Sugar Hill neighborhoods. She spent 10 years with the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council, volunteers at Wilshire Crest Elementary School, and has been writing for the Buzz since 2015.

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