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AB 1482 – California Rent Cap & Just Cause for Eviction Resources

The passage of AB 1482 was a HUGE win for California renters – enshrining into state law some of the strongest anti-rent gouging and just cause for eviction protections in the country. But since Governor Newsom signed the bill into law last month, some landlords are trying to oust tenants to avoid the new protections. We are working with our local legal aid partners to ensure that renters are protected until then, and we want to provide resources for others working to stop these unfair and unlawful evictions as well.

We thank our co-sponsors, partners, and colleagues around the state for their support in securing AB 1482’s passage and for their local advocacy and assistance in producing resources to ensure its successful implementation.

Below you will find sample pleadings, letters, and a webinar to help stop pre-1482 evictions, as well as information and background on AB 1482:

Western Center’s 2019 Budget & Legislative Victories

16 Western Center bills were signed by Governor Gavin Newsom this year, marking huge wins for California. Of note are two renter protection bills, AB 1482, now one of the nation’s most expansive anti-rent gouging and just cause for eviction laws, and SB 329, which prohibits discrimination against housing voucher holders.

For health care, SB 464 will require perinatal health providers to undergo implicit bias training to address the maternal mortality rate for black women in California, which is 4-5 times higher than it is for white women. For financial security, SB 616 outlaws the ability of debt collectors to drain people’s bank accounts, leaving them without funds for necessary day-to-day expenses. These legislative victories are in addition to big wins achieved in the state budget earlier this year.

See the full suite of Western Center’s 2019 budget and legislative victories below!

Power outages hit some of state’s poorest communities hard

PG&E’s unprecedented blackouts over the past month have hit especially hard in some of Northern California’s poorest communities, stripping electricity from hundreds of thousands of people who can least afford to be without it, according to state data reviewed by The Chronicle.

…Jessica Bartholow, a policy advocate with the Western Center on Law and Poverty, said prolonged outages can create a domino effect. Businesses close and people lose their paychecks. Schools or day cares close and people are forced to pay more for child care, or meals that would ordinarily be served at school. Those increased and unexpected costs can threaten a family’s ability to pay for rent or medical needs.

“Disaster is hard for anyone to get through, but it could be the last straw for people living in poverty,” Bartholow said.

Read more 

Riverside County increases number of people receiving general relief subsidies by 3,900% in past year

In the past year, Riverside County increased the number of people to whom it provided “general relief” by 3,900% in response to a lawsuit filed by three California social justice law firms which argued the county’s system made the cash assistance program hard to access for indigent individuals, particularly those who were homeless.

The $3 million county-funded, state-mandated general relief program (also called general assistance) provides temporary financial assistance to adults who don’t have access to other assistance programs such as Social Security income, disability assistance, unemployment benefits or other programs. The program generally helps single adults who don’t fit into the programs that come with age, disability or family qualifiers.

…“In some cases, folks were telling us they would go to the social services office to apply and would be told by workers that if you are homeless you aren’t even eligible,” said Alexander Prieto, a senior attorney from the Western Center on Law and Poverty.

Read More

Sacramento Mayor Calls For Rapid Expansion Of Tiny Homes Across California

To ease California’s homeless crisis and boost affordable housing, cities across the state are slowly embracing so-called tiny homes.

In Sacramento, Mayor Darrell Steinberg wants his city to spend $30 million to jump-start the rapid production of these structures, which are sometimes just 500 square feet or less.

Steinberg, who chairs the state’s commission on homelessness, said other local governments should follow his lead.

… Anya Lawler, a policy advocate at the Western Center on Law and Poverty, added: “We aren’t necessarily opposed to tiny homes and similar things given the number of people on the streets, but don’t necessarily see them as a large-scale solution either.”

Read more 

San Diego will soon have rent control. What renters and landlords need to know

Rent control is coming to San Diego County in 2020, and there is a lot for tenants and landlords to know.

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation in early October that will cap rent increases throughout the state from 7 to 8 percent a year. It’s uncharted territory for California to have a statewide effort to rein in rents and especially in San Diego County, which has never had any form of rent control.

…Alexander Harden, a policy advocate at the Western Center on Law & Poverty that help craft the new law, said it would be unlikely a corporation would try to skirt the law because it could open them up to a class-action lawsuit.

“We wanted to capture these big corporate actors that are increasingly investing in small properties,” he said. “That’s why there is an exception to the exception for those folks.”

Read more 

Homeless Californians Who Commit Minor Crimes Could Get Treatment Instead Of Jail Under Proposed Ballot Measure

Homeless people in California convicted of drug crimes or charges such as indecent exposure or defecating in public could be sentenced to treatment instead of jail time under a proposed ballot measure.

Plans for the initiative — which were submitted last week and aren’t yet approved for the November ballot — come as Californians now view homelessness as a top concern in the state, tied with jobs and the economy, according to a recent poll.

…“We know that delivering those services in a forced, institutional setting — which this seems aimed at doing — actually has a very low success rate. It doesn’t result in people stabilizing over the long term,” said Anya Lawler, a policy advocate at the Western Center on Law and Poverty, which supports the causes of low-income Californians. 

Read more 

Western Center Submits Comments to HUD Opposing Changes to Disparate Impact in Fair Housing

To read Western Center’s full comments, click here. An excerpt can be found below:

The Fair Housing Act was passed in the wake of Martin Luther King Junior’s assassination with the goal of moving closer to some of the ideals he gave his life to pursue – ending segregation and ensuring that all people could live in the community of their choice regardless of the color of their skin. This landmark civil rights law has been a critical tool in moving towards a more integrated nation where everyone can live in the community of their choice; but we have a long way to go before realizing its goals. HUD’s proposed rule profoundly undermines the Fair Housing Act (FHA). If finalized, the rule will make enforcement of the FHA’s protections impossible except in cases where the perpetrator of discriminatory conduct announces their ill intent. Corporate interests, including the insurance companies that this Rule appears intended to benefit, are too sophisticated to state their intent to discriminate.

Courts have recognized for the past half-century that the Fair Housing Act should be interpreted to reach conduct where a protected group is disproportionately harmed even through no intent to discriminate can be clearly shown. As the Supreme Court recognized in Texas Dept. of Housing and Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project, disparate impact liability is critical to address those issues at the “heartland” of the Fair Housing Act. While HUD professes to be implementing the Supreme Court’s decision with this proposal, it is in fact undermining and eviscerating the concept of disparate impact liability and the ICP decision. If this Rule is finalized, the Fair Housing Act will be much more difficult to enforce. With this proposal, HUD is abdicating its duty to further enforcement of the Fair Housing Act.

Homeless Man Challenges LA Vehicle Towing Policies in Court

A homeless man is challenging in court the city of Los Angeles’ practice of towing vehicles as a mechanism for collecting debt.

Joseph Safuto’s amended Los Angeles Superior Court petition, filed Tuesday, maintains the city should not be able to tow vehicles without a public-safety justification solely because of lapsed registration. The court action also takes to task the way the city conducts towing hearings.

…The Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, Western Center on Law & Poverty and the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Southern California are representing Safuto.

Read more 

PRESS RELEASE: L.A. Man Sues City After Car Towed and Sold Over Two Parking Tickets

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Car Auctioned Despite Man’s Participation in Community Assistance Parking Program

LOS ANGELES — A person experiencing homelessness, Joseph Safuto, has sued the City of Los Angeles, challenging the city’s practice of towing vehicles as a mechanism for collecting debt – in this case two unpaid parking tickets that resulted in a lapsed registration. The lawsuit challenges the city’s practice of towing vehicles without a public safety justification solely because of lapsed registration, and it challenges the way the city conducts towing hearings.

“I put a lot of effort into getting the car registered, but I had those two parking tickets that were holding it up. I was trying to work them off through CAPP, and they towed it anyway,” said Safuto. “I was already struggling to get me and my daughter housing and to get on my feet again. When my car was towed, it pushed me into a deeper hole, not just financially but also emotionally. It was debilitating, and all of this for two parking tickets. It’s wrong to leverage a small debt to the city to take people’s property.”

The Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, Western Center on Law & Poverty, and the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Southern California are representing Safuto.

“At a time when the city should be focusing its resources on moving people out of homelessness, Mr. Safuto’s case illustrates how the City’s continued reliance on law enforcement and punitive measures actually perpetuate the cycle of poverty,” said Shayla Myers, senior attorney at Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles.

Safuto suffers from mobility disabilities that prevent him from working. He used his vehicle to visit his nine-year-old daughter, attend medical appointments, and run errands. 

In April 2019, the Los Angeles Police Department ordered Safuto’s vehicle towed, even though the car was not impeding traffic or impacting public safety in any way. The justification for the tow was that his registration had expired, but he was prevented from re-registering his vehicle, even though he had paid the registration fee. The city had a hold on his registration because he had not paid two outstanding parking tickets, totaling about $350.

At the time of the tow, Safuto was enrolled in the Community Assistance Parking Program, which allows people experiencing homelessness to pay off outstanding parking tickets by performing community service. He was scheduled to participate in the program on the day his vehicle was towed.

“Leaders of California and Los Angeles say they are working to get people out of poverty and out of homelessness, but actions like these work against individuals like Mr. Safuto who try their best to stay afloat and follow the law,” said Rebecca Miller, an attorney at Western Center on Law & Poverty. “Our state can’t afford city policies that punish people for poverty.”

Safuto informed the officer who towed his vehicle that he had submitted necessary proof and fees to register his car, and that he was participating in the Community Assistance Parking Program, but the officer had the car towed anyway.

Safuto later presented this information at an administrative hearing, where he contested the tow, but the administrative officer only considered that the car had not been registered at the time of the tow.

Because Safuto was unable to pay the fees associated with the tow — including a $115 City of Los Angeles “vehicle release fee,” a $41.50 daily storage fee, and a $70 lien processing fee — the towing company sold his car at lien sale.

Despite the fact that the car was sold, Safuto was charged $1004.50 to cover the lien and he still had to do the community service to work off the parking ticket debt.

“Everyone has a right to due process and security in their belongings, and cars are no exception,” said Julia Devanthéry, the Dignity for All staff attorney at the ACLU of SoCal. “Vehicles are essential for many Angelenos — especially those experiencing homelessness. The city should be investing in affordable housing instead of cutting people’s essential lifelines to work and safety by towing their cars for debt collection.”

This action is an amendment to a petition filed in July. Safuto seeks a court order to ensure that the City tows vehicles only when it is necessary for public safety, rather than for debt collection. Safuto also seeks to reverse the decision of the administrative hearing officer and recover all costs associated with the tow, as well as the cost to replace his vehicle.

Read the lawsuit here.

 

MEDIA CONTACTS:

Sara Williams, Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, (323) 801-7996, sjwilliams@lafla.org

ACLU SoCal Communications & Media Advocacy, (213) 977-5252, communications@aclusocal.org

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About Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles
Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles (LAFLA) seeks to achieve equal justice for people living in poverty across Greater Los Angeles. LAFLA changes lives through direct representation, systems change and community empowerment. It has five offices in Los Angeles County, along with four Self-Help Legal Access Centers at area courthouses and three domestic violence clinics to aid survivors.

About Western Center on Law & Poverty
Western Center on Law & Poverty fights for justice and system-wide change to secure housing, health care, racial justice and a strong safety net for low-income Californians. Western Center attains real-world, policy solutions for clients through litigation, legislative and policy advocacy, and technical assistance and legal support for the state’s legal aid programs. Western Center is California’s oldest and largest legal services support center.

About ACLU of Southern California
The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California was founded in 1923 to defend and secure rights guaranteed by the Constitution – free speech, religion, the rights of assembly, freedom of the press, and due process under the law — and extend them to people who have been excluded from their protection. Our work is accomplished through litigation in the courts, public education and lobbying.