Housing Policy Platform
Every person deserves a safe place to live. Housing is a human right. No person belongs in a cage. Our government should use taxpayer money to house people in homes – not jails or prisons. Our government has a responsibility to guarantee people have their basic needs met and their rights respected. Working-class people are important to Los Angeles and deserve a place to live in the city.
- Use all available means to immediately and quickly provide safe, dignified housing to all currently unhoused.
- Expand tenant rights and protections against evictions.
- Decriminalize poverty to redirect our resources towards providing housing and services and prevent poverty-based discrimination.
- Expand and scale competent services to support people currently unhoused or experiencing housing instability.
- Ensure public space meets the needs of our community members.
1. Use all available means to immediately and quickly provide safe, dignified housing to all currently unhoused.
- Levy a tax on vacant rental and ownership units throughout the city.
- Levy a tax on landlords that do not provide a certain percentage of affordable units.
- Utilize eminent domain to seize perpetually vacant property or other under-utilized properties.
- Levy a tax on entities who own multiple residential properties for leasing and renting.
No vacant units. House people now.
The City must prioritize housing people, which means penalizing markets that make large profits at the expense of residents. Angelenos cannot afford having wealthy investors keeping livable units off the market until they can charge more in rent. In the last 30 years, median rents in Los Angeles County have climbed by 55% while incomes only rose by 13%. The City must take proactive measures to combat the concentration of home ownership by corporate entities; nearly 67% of all residential units in Los Angeles are owned by investment entities. In 2017, more than 93,500 housing units were vacant. An estimated 36,000 Angelenos are unhoused.
The City already knows that the top reasons for increased homelessness in Los Angeles are lack of housing affordability, lack of housing availability, and high rates of income inequality. We know that homelessness in Los Angeles is directly related to the high cost of living. Homelessness greatly increases when median rents in a region exceed 32% of median income; for Angelenos, the median rents is 46.7% of median income. Our community needs policies that address these root causes – not criminalization, sweeps, or fences.
We know that 80% of unsheltered Angelenos have lived here for more than five years and two-thirds became homeless in Los Angeles County. Our unhoused community needs opportunities for permanent housing in Los Angeles – not temporary shelters, not jail beds, and not banishment from our community.
2. Expand tenant rights and protections against evictions.
- Codify and fully fund the right to counsel for low-income residents facing eviction.
- Update rent stabilization ordinances to protect all units eligible under state law. Extend just-cause eviction protections to all rental units.
- Prohibit no-fault evictions of a family with a school-aged child during the school year.
- Require property owners to pay tenants a substantial relocation fee when evicting tenants under existing state laws or displacing tenants due to a substantial rent increase.
- Pass resolutions urging the repeal of the Costa-Hawkins Act and Ellis Act to expand and preserve rent-controlled units.
- Sanction landlords for non-compliance with procedural rules or infringing on tenants’ rights.
Every eviction is a policy failure.
Every eviction is state violence.
The City must prioritize keeping people housed. This requires acting on rent prices and evictions. In the last 30 years, median rents in Los Angeles County have climbed by 55% while incomes only rose by 13%. By expanding rent control protections, more people can stay housed in Los Angeles. Even small increases in rent effectively price out hundreds from their communities. In CD-13 alone, 80% of residents are renters. Representing CD-13 honestly and effectively requires defending and expanding renters’ rights.
Currently, outdated state laws limit rent control protections. Los Angeles must extend rent control protections to the fullest extent permitted under state law and must make it clear to state leaders that it is time to repeal regressive housing policy. From 2001 to 2019, the Ellis Act (state law) resulted in the loss of over 26,000 rent-controlled units in Los Angeles.
As much as possible, the costs of eviction, displacement, and relocations should be on landlords – not priced-out tenants. As the government funds the process of eviction, the government must also fund legal representation for those threatened with eviction. Only by providing legal representation during eviction proceedings can tenants have a meaningful opportunity to fight their case and assert their rights. Tenants cannot win in court when 90% of tenants do not have legal representation but 90% of landlords do.
3. Decriminalize poverty to redirect our resources towards providing housing and services and prevent poverty-based discrimination.
- Repeal any city ordinances frequently used to detain, arrest, or cite unhoused individuals.
- Repeal any city ordinances that prohibit individuals from sitting, sleeping, lying, loitering, or storing personal property in public areas.
- Repeal restrictions that prohibit individuals from sleeping in cars and expand safe parking lots.
- Establish a community resource center to work with unhoused individuals to provide essential supplies and assistance in finding a safe public space to sleep or other transitional housing, as preferred by the individual. The resource center will have therapists, social workers, and case workers available to assist individuals experiencing housing instability.
- Any housing funded by the City must abide by certain requirements to ensure individuals’ rights and agency. Housing service providers will not be permitted to lock-out participants or require participants to remove their belongings during their stay. Housing service providers will be expected to have facilities that provide participants with privacy and can accommodate families (including non-nuclear relationships). Additionally, housing service providers must provide participants with access to communal and recreational areas.
- Restrict landlords from asking applicants about criminal records or eviction records in rental application processes, and repeal city ordinances that authorize evictions based on criminal activity.
- Repeal city ordinances that increase police surveillance of affordable or low-income housing.
- Dismantle and end the Citywide Nuisance Abatement Program.
Invest in housing, not policing.
Invest in public spaces, not policing.
Invest in public spaces, not policing.
Being unhoused is not a crime.
Provide services, not citations.
For decades, the City has responded to poverty and homelessness with criminalization, choosing to fund police over the people and locking many out from finding a place to live. Instead of funding housing or services supporting those experiencing housing instability, the City spends millions on surveilling, policing, and locking up its most vulnerable residents. A report from City Council in 2015 reported that the LAPD estimated spending between $53.6 million and $87.3 million a year in policing the homeless (not including the costs from patrol officers’ time). This outrageous spending is reflected in arrest rates: while unhoused individuals made up only 0.6% of the city’s 2015 population, they were 14.23% of all arrests. This heightened criminalization of the unhoused tracks the historical criminalization of Black Angelenos: in Los Angeles County, Black residents make up 8% of the total population yet make up 33% of the unhoused community. Racial justice requires the decriminalization of homelessness.
The City’s treatment of the unhoused community (including brutal sweeps) has been so harmful that even a United Nations Special Rapporteur condemned the City’s actions on human rights grounds and federal courts have found that certain City Council ordinances appear unconstitutional on their face. The City of Los Angeles – claiming to be a progressive safe-haven – is undermining both constitutional and human rights. Simply put, ordinances that punish unhoused people for being unhoused threaten their right to exist and survive.
Enforcing these punitive, regressive ordinances devour City resources. The City must instead invest these resources in keeping and getting Angelenos housed, and in holistic, supportive services. Ordinances that criminalize the unhoused – including individuals living out of vehicles – do not make our communities safer. Likewise, discriminatory policies, such as refusing rentals due to past convictions or evictions, lead to increases in crime as individuals get locked out from securing a place to live, in some cases contributing to recidivism.
Respecting the dignity and humanity of Angelenos means housing must not be carceral. Any housing intended to support individuals experiencing housing instability or transitions must respect the dignity of each person. Strict, burdensome requirements can cause further harm and trauma. In addition, now is the time to dismantle City programs and policies that give the police excessive access to residential properties to install cameras, request tenant records, and enter the property. Residents that are unhoused or live in low-income communities deserve the same respect and privacy given to the wealthiest Angelenos.
Municipal Ordinances to Repeal
- LAMC Sec. 63.44 (14) – prohibiting staying in a park between 10:30 pm and 5:00 am
- LAMC Sec. 56.11 – prohibiting storage of personal property in public areas and allowing its seizure and destruction
- LAMC Sec. 41.18 – prohibiting sitting, lying, or sleeping in some public areas
- LAMC Sec. 85.02 – prohibiting using vehicle as dwelling on residential streets and other areas (unclear if sunset provision extended past Jan 2020)
- LAMC Sec. 47.50 – requires landlords to evict tenants for criminal activity
4. Expand and scale competent services to support people currently unhoused or experiencing housing instability.
- Increase City partnerships with local, progressive non-profit organizations providing services to people experiencing housing instability by expanding available funding for services, such as health & mental health providers, housing providers, caseworkers, social workers, and other advocacy services.
- All services funded by the City must participate in accountability programs to ensure they are providing competent and respectful services to community members. Accountability tools that will be used include audits; a thorough and accessible complaint process; and consistent, proactive outreach to community members by City.
Services – not sweeps.
Address the issue, stop sweeping it under the rug.
The City has a responsibility to fund the important, competent work of our community organizations that support the City’s residents. Los Angeles’ resources should fund services for unhoused individuals, not sweeps that further displace and harm. The City has a responsibility to hold taxpayer-funded services accountable and ensure they provide high quality services. No community member should feel belittled or harmed by any City-funded service. Community members deserve competent services that respect their agency, autonomy, and dignity. Individuals are not resistant to effective, supportive services; individuals do refuse services that undermine their humanity and seek to punish them. Through such services and accountability programs, Los Angeles can fund those in the community already doing this work – creating jobs, increasing public engagement, and returning power to the community.
5. Ensure public space meets the needs of our community members.
- Build and maintain hygienic and accessible bathrooms, showers, and sinks throughout the City to ensure the availability of these facilities within a 1-mile radius.
- Convert some properties to community ownership models.
- End policing and surveillance in recreational and public spaces.
- Remove all fencing from public spaces.
Invest in bathrooms, not policing.
All humans share the same needs. To have a decent quality of life, all of us must have access to bathrooms and showers – especially when away from our homes or when experiencing housing instability. Ensuring access to clean and adequate facilities for all community members keeps everyone healthier and safer – including children, the elderly, and those with medical conditions. We can re-design public space to more fully meet the needs of the community, including having a diversity of options of safe places to rest. The City spent $104,000 to install fences around Echo Park and $250,000 just to install CCTV cameras. These are not investments in the community – they are investments in a police-state. We must dismantle such policing and return power to the community. Community keeps us safe.
- Priced Out, Pushed Out, Locked Out: How Permanent Tenant Protections Can Help Communities Prevent Homelessness and Resist Displacement in Los Angeles County by Public Counsel, UCLA Law Community Economic Development Clinic, Unincorporated Tenants United Coalition on behalf of Eastside Leadership for Equitable and Accountable Development Strategies, published June 2019, available at https://www.publiccounsel.org/tools/assets/files/1188.pdf.
- Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count 2020, Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, published June 12, 2020, available at https://www.lahsa.org/news?article=726-2020-greater-los-angeles-homeless-count-results.
- Anti-Eviction Mapping Project, “The Destruction of Los Angeles Affordable Housing Due to the Ellis Act!,” http://www.antievictionmappingproject.net/losangeles.html.
- Los Angeles’ Right to Counsel Coalition https://rtcla.org/.
- “Homelessness and the City of Los Angeles,” Office of the City Administrative Officer, Council File No. 0220-05151-0000, dated April 16, 2015, available at https://s3.documentcloud.org/documents/1906452/losangeleshomelessnessreport.pdf.
- Leilani Farha, UN Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing 2014 – 2020, tweet available at: https://twitter.com/leilanifarha/status/1375784081057837058.
- Janet Garcia v. City of Los Angeles, United States Court of Appeals – 9th Circuit, No. 20-55522, filed September 2, 2021, available at: https://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2021/09/02/20-55522.pdf.
- “Unhousing the Poor: Interlocking Regimes of Racialized Policing,” Ananya Roy, Terra Graziani, Pamela Stephens, available at: https://squareonejustice.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/Ananya-Roy-et-al-Unhousing-the-Poor-1.pdf.
- “Brief 3: Housing Inequality in Los Angeles,” Ananya Roy, UCLA Institute on Inequality and Democracy, available at: https://centerx.gseis.ucla.edu/data-for-democracy/briefs/housing/
- “Project No Key”, Sam Lutzker, KnockLA, February 24, 2021, available at: https://knock-la.com/project-roomkey-punitive-policies-ce8d59c534fb/..
- “The Echo Park Lake Displacement: Just Plain Wrong”, Ananya Roy & other signatories, CityWatch, April 5, 2021, available at: https://www.citywatchla.com/index.php/cw/los-angeles/21503-the-echo-park-lake-displacement-just-plain-wrong.
- “Blueprint for Displacement: Breaking Down LAPD’s Echo Park Rehabilitation After Action Report”, Stop LAPD Spying Coalition, LA CAN, Street Watch LA, September 2021.