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Rent control

The National Fight For Rent Control

In April 2015, the Pacific Standard (RIP to yet another quality outlet shuttered) published a defense of rent control—with an opening salvo declaring it dead. New York tenant organizers would go on to win small, highly technical improvements to their rent regulation system a little later that year, but in the broad strokes, the Standard’s appraisal at the time wasn’t wrong. Localized systems in New York, California, and New Jersey were riddled with pro-landlord loopholes, while 31 states had instituted outright rent control bans, most at the behest of a shadowy neo-con organization.

New York’s Tenant Unions Are Playing The Long Game

In the summer of 2022, a few months before her rental lease was set to expire, Lucy Rinzler-Day saw a provocative poster hanging in her apartment building’s elevator. The poster—which, she would later learn, was made by her neighbor—warned tenants of the 32-unit building in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn, to be on the lookout for illegal rent increases on their lease renewals. Their apartment building is rent stabilized, a form of housing regulation that protects tenants from exorbitant rent hikes and gives them the right to renew their leases. Any rent hike over 3.2% that year, as established by the city’s Rent Guidelines Board, would be illegal.

Tenant Organizing In Unexpected Places

Spurred in part by COVID and by a growing housing affordability crisis, tenant organizing is picking up, not just in expected places like New York, but in mid-sized cities like Austin and Baltimore, and even smaller cities like Louisville, Kentucky, and Portland, Maine. Increasingly, tenant organizers are not just winning battles against landlords, but changing public policy. For instance, rent control was passed in Portland, Maine, last November. In this webinar cosponsored by NPQ and Shelterforce on July 12, moderated by Steve Dubb, NPQ economic justice senior editor, and Miriam Axel-Lute, Shelterforce’s editor in chief, four tenant activists shared their stories of direct tenant organizing and policy advocacy.

Tenants Push Biden For Rent Control On All Government-Backed Housing

In the corner of a Dollar General parking lot on the southwest side of Louisville, across the street from the Nottingham Plaza Drive-Thru Liquor Barrel and an abandoned coin laundry, the Louisville Tenant Union convened for Sunday afternoon canvassing. It was nearly 90 degrees with the June sun beating down from the midday sky, so organizer Josh Poe invited the red-shirted union members to gather beneath the spotty shade provided by a small tree at the corner of the parking lot. Most have canvassed before, but Poe still walked everyone through the process. Today’s goals: have residents of Newberry Parc apartments submit comments online to the Federal Housing Finance Agency about rent hikes and poor housing conditions, and also to invite them to the next tenant union meeting.

People’s Town Hall Demands: ‘Rent Control Now!’

Atlanta, Georgia - Tenants and housing activists packed the Neighborhood Church in East Atlanta July 8 for a People’s Town Hall to launch a statewide effort to overturn a Georgia law that forbids any rent control measures from being enacted in any jurisdiction. People traveled from around the state, coming from small towns and large cities like Valdosta near the Florida border, Columbus and Albany. Atlanta and its suburbs were well represented. Many of the featured speakers were Black women who have borne the brunt of rundown housing, where they are charged exorbitant rents and utility costs and are constantly threatened with eviction.

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.

A Former Sundown Town Passed Reparations And Rent Control

“There’s the California that people imagine, a place I would love to visit and maybe buy a house on one salary,” Mayor Daniel Lee, now running for Congress, says with a smile. “Then, there’s the actual California.” Back in 2018, when Lee was elected as Culver City’s first Black councilmember, he didn’t know about the city’s history as a “sundown town,” a reference to all-white areas that enforce segregation through local laws, intimidation and violence. It was only at the Annual Legislative Conference hosted by the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation that other Black elected officials told him their stories of taking roundabout drives in their youth to avoid the notoriously racist Culver City Police Department. The city was founded by Harry H. Culver, who advertised it in the Los Angeles Herald in 1915 as a “model little white city.”

The Housing Affordability Crisis And What Millennials Can do About It

When millennials head home for the holidays this month, many who are city dwellers will be hosted by parents or grand-parents whose housing is far more spacious and financially secure than their own. Even guests with well-paid jobs in relatively stable rental markets will cast an envious eye at the benefits of baby boomer house buying decades ago. That’s because these holiday visitors belong to a “generation priced out” of America’s hottest urban markets for single-family homes, condos, and rental apartments. According to Berkeley author Randy Shaw, skyrocketing prices for all three forms of housing have created a generational divide, with major political implications for progressive city governments and advocates of affordable housing.

Organizing Tenants In The Rentier Society

By Michael Byrne for ROAR Magazine - These organizations are developing new ways of responding to the growing conflict between tenants and landlords and between housing as a right and housing as a financialized asset. They aim to become more than radical activist groups, but rather to organize tenants en masse and to change the structural conditions and policies which condemn tenants to a life of high rents, frequent evictions and low-quality housing. All the organizations mentioned above are involved in collective action in response to individual issues, in particular rent increases, evictions and poor housing standards. This involves providing information about tenants’ rights, negotiating with landlords, media campaigns targeting specific landlords and taking legal cases. For tenant organizers this is about tenants working together to fight for their rights, rather than charity. Renting can be an isolating and individualizing experience. The only time a tenant is likely to reach out to others is during a particular moment of crisis, such as a rent increase or eviction. These moments provide the possibility to de-individualize the experience of renting, but also to politicize that experience by showing that by working together tenants can change their reality. Yet this kind of “case work” brings its own challenges — and not just in terms of the considerable resources it requires.

Cuomoville Three Day Camp-Out Begins At Cuomo NYC Office

By Staff for Metropolitan Council on Housing. We are camping out in front of Governor Cuomo's office to demand that he stop siding with real estate developers and start standing with New Yorkers! For too long Governor Cuomo has been selling out tenants. He's given a $2.4 billion tax break to developers so they can pretend to build affordable housing while in reality they kick out low and middle-income New Yorkers, who are predominantly people of color. Governor Cuomo's housing agenda isn't helping tenants, it's hurting us... and we've had ENOUGH. Its time to press the Governor to stand with us. If you can join us for any part of the three day camp-out and actions listed above, contact ava@metcouncilonhousing.org, or RSVP on Facebook

Push For Rent Control Is Taking Root Across America

By Randy Shaw for Counterpunch. Activists in cities that have long had rent control laws are pushing for stronger measures. In Los Angeles, activists like Larry Gross, Director of the Coalition for Economic Survival, want the city to stop allowing tenants to be evicted so that speculators can demolish their rent-controlled buildings (emptying the building through the Ellis Act, a state law that preempts local just cause eviction laws). CES and their allies forced the head of the California Housing Finance Agency toresign over his Ellis Act eviction of tenants. The spread of rent control campaigns goes beyond California. In Seattle, sharply rising rents and tenant displacement led Councilmembers Kshama Sawant and Nick Licata to push for a Council resolutionrepealing of the statewide ban on rent control. On September 21, Seattle’s City Council backed the resolution calling for repealing the state preemption of local rent control enacted in 1981. Portland tenants are also pushing for rent control.
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