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Housing

Renters Are Being Fleeced With Huge Rent Hikes And Evictions

Gerardo Vidal, who has lived in the same apartment in Queens, New York, with his family for 9 years, recently received a $900-a-month rent increase this year. “It means having to uproot my entire family, given the fact we’re still having a difficult time earning money due to the pandemic and loss of jobs,” said Vidal. “It’s unfair that we are being basically forced out of places we lived in for nine years and that landlords can get away with this.” Vidal is one of thousands of tenants in New York and countless others around the US who are currently experiencing drastic rent increases—a trend that has been decades in the making but, combined with an inflation squeeze and systemic shortage of affordable housing, is causing havoc for renters. These rent hikes are effectively serving as evictions by landlords who know full well that tenants will likely have to move as a result, enabling the landlords to rent out units to new tenants at greater rates.

Resident-Owned Resilience

Residents of manufactured housing communities (MHCs) are disproportionately vulnerable to both hazards and displacement. The cooperative ownership model of resident-owned communities (ROCs) pioneered by ROC USA helps MHC residents resist displacement, but little research assesses how cooperative tenure impacts hazard vulnerability. To fill this gap, we conduct a spatial analysis of 234 ROC USA sites; analyze the co-op conversion process; and interview ROC USA staff, technical assistance providers, and resident co-op leaders. Although ROC USA communities, like other MHCs, face elevated exposure and sensitivity to hazards, we find that ROC USA’s model supports communities’ adaptive capacity by increasing access to financial resources, bridging formal and informal knowledge and skills, and improving social and institutional capacity. This networked cooperative model represents a scalable form of transformative adaptation by enabling low-income communities to address the underlying causes of uneven hazard vulnerabilities that are intensifying under climate change.

Local Organizations Unite Against Housing Crisis

Oakland, California - On Saturday, several local organizations kicked off their plan to end the growing housing and homelessness crisis in Oakland. Gathering in Oscar Grant Plaza, in front of the new art installation that calls out police murders of Black people, the groups sought to mobilize the crowd around another kind of racialized violence: displacement. “The stress of worrying about being evicted creates health problems that are killing people. It’s not just gentrification. It’s genocide,” said Sharena Thomas. She is one of six organizers, now known as Moms 4 Housing, who sparked an international call to make housing a human right with their occupation of a home in West Oakland in 2019. Speakers painted a devastating picture of the housing crisis in Oakland.

Housing Rights Militants At The People’s Summit

The ninth Summit of the Americas is taking place in Los Angeles from June 6 to 10, organized by the US-influenced Organization of American States. The White House, in announcing the US as the host of the Summit back in January, stated: “Working with the city of Los Angeles, Mayor of Los Angeles Eric Garcetti, and Governor of California Gavin Newsom, the United States looks forward to convening leaders and stakeholders across the hemisphere to advance our shared commitment to economic prosperity, security, human rights, and dignity.” The People’s Summit is being organized concurrently in Los Angeles as a working class call to action against the US government interests that have historically underwritten the Summit of the Americas.

Eviction Defense Successful Despite Aggressive Contractors

Minneapolis, Minnesota – On June 1, 2022, authorities unsuccessfully cleared an encampment of tents on an unused strip of land off Interstate 35. Eviction defenders thwarted the sweep by asking for documents, helping residents pack and move, and using their bodies and placing objects in the way of authorities. Despite aggression from the contractors hired for the eviction cleanup, no tents were taken. Yet, all residents have since moved. Arriving around 9 a.m., State Patrol officers and Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) workers arrived to the encampment next to the northbound 28th St. exit from I-35W, with plans to clear the tents. Residents of the camp started living there because the previous encampments they lived in were also swept by the city.

Trailer Park Residents Take On Venture Capitalists—And Win

Durango, Colorado - On a cold January day at the height of ski season, as tourists check into Durango’s resort hotels and wealthy vacationers roll suitcases into their second homes, Alejandra Chavez pulls away from her single wide trailer on the outskirts of town and drives the two-lane road south to look for a new place to live in New Mexico. Chavez dreads the prospect of making this same 1.5‑hour-drive, back and forth, every day, but she sees few options. Her work is in Durango, but Durango, it seems, may no longer have a home for her. Chavez, 30, moved to the area 18 years ago to join her parents, who fled economic desolation in Mexico and found work in Durango. In 2008, the family bought their trailer in Westside Mobile Home Park for $12,000.

Berlin Housing Rights Conference Demands Immediate Socialization Of Large Real Estate Holdings

Berlin, German - A three-day conference organized by the housing rights group Deutsche Wohnen & Co Enteignen (DWE) or Expropriate Deutsche Wohnen und Co. in Berlin has demanded that the Berlin State government immediately socialize large real estates in the city. The conference held from May 27 to 29 at the Technical University of Berlin discussed tactics for building major housing rights coalitions across the country to tackle the worsening housing crisis. The expropriation initiative also criticized maneuvers by the ruling Social Democratic Party (SPD) to place technical and legal hurdles in delivering the mandate of the Berlin referendum held in September 2021 for expropriating the property of big landlords.

Activists Camp At City Hall To Protest Homeless Encampment Evictions

Keene, New Hampshire - Community organizers in Keene, New Hampshire, pitched tents in Central Square Park outside of Keene City Hall for an overnight protest on the evening of May 21 to draw attention to an impending eviction of a homeless encampment behind the local Aldi and Kohls. Earlier in May the encampment was served an eviction for May 23. The eviction notice was delivered by city police, accompanied by new “no trespassing” signs tacked to trees in the camps. The residents are being evicted by property owner Wilder Co. only two months after an eviction behind the local Hannaford supermarket forced many to relocate to the woods behind Aldi and Kohls. Campers described eviction after eviction to outreach volunteers from Keene Mutual Aid, one saying “We have nowhere else to go.”

Home In Tacoma For All Coalition Seeks Greater Equity In Zoning Reforms

Home in Tacoma aims to overhaul Tacoma’s housing rules to allow greater flexibility in building practices. It will allow denser housing to be built to house our city’s ever growing population. The initial framework passed in December 2021 bringing Tacoma are one step closer to that goal. Though forward thinking, the plan also falls short of its potential. As I’ve pointed out in previous articles, the reach of the plan is not exactly equitable or far reaching. In short, poorer communities of color are being disproportionately rezoned in comparison to their wealthier, whiter counterparts. Communities of color will be transformed while privileged communities get to maintain the status quo. Segregation with some window dressing, if you will.

KC Tenants Announces Launch Of Citywide Tenant’s Union

Kansas City, Kansas - Pat Lucas received the notification last August: She would have to vacate the Armour Flats building in the 3400 block of Holmes Street in Kansas City — her home for more than 17 years — by November. The management company was going to renovate the property, causing her rent to shoot up, from a little over $500 a month to more than $1,000. She was priced out and had to move. Lucas shared her story Saturday as KC Tenants, a local organization advocating for housing rights, held a rally to announce it was creating a citywide tenant’s union. The organization will work with every local neighborhood association with a goal of getting 10,000 union members.

India: Workers Made Homeless On May Day

On May 1, in the presence of heavy police force, demolition squads of Chandigarh swooped on huts and houses of colony number 4, Industrial Area Phase 1. The homes and hearths of nearly 5000 people, all of them from the poorest sections of one of the most affluent cities of India, were destroyed within a few hours. Many of those removed have been living in this 40 year old colony for decades and have never known any other home. While this action would have been condemned under any circumstances, there are three particular reasons why this was excessively insensitive and ill-advised at this time. Firstly, this region has been passing through heat-wave conditions in the recent past and weather forecasts are for even more hot weather in the coming days.

Tampa’s Housing Crisis And The Fight For Rent Control

Tampa, Florida - The Tampa community has struggled for an end to the housing crisis since the eviction moratoriums ended last year. With this year’s midterm elections approaching, Tampa activists demand a rent control ordinance to stop the rise in rent prices. Enough public support can push the Tampa city council to address the housing emergency. Tampa is among the cities facing the worst of the national housing crisis. Tampa ranks ninth worst in the world for decrease in housing affordability. Renters in the city spend 42% of their income on housing, a 6% increase from 2017 during a time of rising inflation and stagnant wages. In 2022, affordable housing listings decreased by 46% while housing prices increased by 26%. More people in Tampa are at risk of losing their housing.

Washington Takes Strongest Clean Commercial Buildings Action In Nation

Olympia, WA - The Washington State Building Code Council voted 11-3 today to adopt a new statewide commercial and multifamily building energy code that will be the strongest, most climate-friendly in the country by driving the transition to clean electricity for space and water heating. This major win for clean energy coincides with President Joe Biden’s Earth Day Seattle visit where he discussed the infrastructure bill and clean energy. The Department of Energy has made heat pumps and energy efficiency measures a key part of its efforts to reduce emissions and dependence on fossil fuels. Under Washington’s updated energy code that will take effect in July 2023, new commercial buildings – including multifamily residential buildings four stories and taller – will be built with high-efficiency electric heat pumps for water and space heating.

A New Effort In San Francisco Aims To Debate Rent At The Bargaining Table

San Francisco, California - On April 11, tenant representatives from the Veritas Tenants Association gathered at the mailbox at 150 Larkin St. across the lawn from San Francisco City Hall. They dropped 15 letters to their landlord, Veritas Investments, the largest landlord in San Francisco and the subject of lawsuits alleging tenant harassment, into the mailbox. “We will show what it means to unionize the biggest private landlord in S.F.,” tenant Madelyn McMillian said. “We will be bargaining on a full range of issues affecting our lives.” The letters presented majority approval of tenant associations in 15 Veritas buildings and asked that Veritas formally acknowledge the unions under a new San Francisco “Right to Organize” ordinance, which went into effect April 11.

Venezuela’s Great Housing Mission Achieves Major Milestone

On April 7, the socialist government of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro celebrated the delivery of a record 4 million homes to its citizens as part of a social housing program called the Great Housing Mission of Venezuela (GMVV). During a joint radio and television broadcast, President Maduro emphasized that the handing over of the 4 million homes was a “historic” event and a “world record.” “Nothing and no one is going to stop us,” he added.
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