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JUNE 2019

Welcome to the sixth issue of The Tenant! Each issue of The Tenant will feature updates from LATU locals about recent goings-on in their neighborhood. We hope this will foster solidarity and communication across LATU citywide. We would appreciate any feedback at media@latenantsunion.org.
— Los Angeles Tenants Union media committee

HOLLYWOOD LOCAL

On May 29, unhoused tenants of Hollywood assembled in Selma Park to protest the increasing police harassment that has accompanied the opening of the new Bridge Shelter in Hollywood. The shelter has only 72 beds for the 1,300 unhoused people in the immediate area, with more city resources going towards policing the unhoused than housing people. The action attracted fifty protesters including LATU members supporting the demands for public space, permanent housing, and the services unhoused tenants need to survive living outside. The action was organized by unhoused residents of Hollywood with solidarity from an affinity group made up of members of the Hollywood Local, the VyBe Local, DSA-L.A., L.A. Community Health Project, and Streetwatch. The action attracted considerable media attention and marked an important first step in unhoused and housed tenants coming together.

WESTSIDE LOCAL

Westside Local held an action against landlord Tyler Wilson at his restaurant Wurstkuche in Venice. NELo, Mid City and Eastside Locals organized a simultaneous action at the DTLA Arts District Wurstkuche restaurant also owned by Tyler Wilson. We also participated in a successful renters rights fair.

Westside Local is asking everyone to politely call Tyler Wilson and ask him to stop the eviction of the Sanchez family. 805–252–3549

Please sign our petition in support of Sanchez family: tinyurl.com/letpatriciastay

SOUTH CENTRAL LOCAL

The South Central Local has recently formed a Tenants Association in one of Ken Wong’s buildings in South Central and have sent a letter in solidarity with tenants from Cinco Puntos to their shared landlord. In the letter they demand that Ken Wong immediately drop all eviction proceedings against the Cinco Puntos tenants. In addition to this, we have been organizing alongside the Valley and Hollywood locals in supporting tenants in the Gilmore Street Tenants Association who have recently called a rent strike against their landlord, billionaire & failed floridian gubernatorial candidate, Jeff Greene. We have begun to outreach to tenants in Dorset Village in Hyde Park, another Jeff Greene building, whose 207 unit complex he plans to demolish. Lastly, we supported the newly forming Baldwin-Leimert-Crenshaw (BLC) Local in their third tenants rights workshop, and have begun assisting allies in Inglewood in forming an Inglewood Tenants Union!

UNIÓN DE VECINOS EASTSIDE

Uniting to Fight! The Eastside Local has merged with Union de Vecinos, forged 25 years ago by Boyle Heights public housing tenants fighting the demolition of their homes, so as to combine our numbers, resources and traditions into a stronger force to fight the violence of displacement and social cleansing on the Eastside. Almost immediately, new or revitalized neighborhood committees and tenant associations have emerged, including on South Chicago Street and Clarence Street. We’ve opened a new front of resistance in response to developer landlords (White Memorial Hospital and The Borman Group) bringing an old displacement tool to Boyle Heights for the first time: Ellis Act Evictions. Stay tuned for a press conference and noisy protest kicking off this emergency defense campaign, linking it to other displacement schemes we’re fighting: phony owner move-in scam threatening long-time members Teresa and Martina, the all-too-familiar tactics of a new owner trying to bamboozle or harass long-term tenants to leave (South Chicago Street) and the Trump Administration’s plan to kick undocumented tenants in “mixed” families out of public housing.… The fight to defend Teresa and Martina also continues on another front: enlisting allies from across the city to pressure the L A County Homeless Initiative to rescind an award to the company that employs evictor Luis Martinez, unless Martinez completely withdraws his eviction actions. … At the request of the rent strikers of Cinco Puntos Inquilinos Unidos in the Northeast Local, we are outreaching to organize buildings in our area owned by Cinco Puntos landlord Ken Wong. This is an exciting concrete example toward realizing the potential of building a locally-based but powerful city-wide tenants movement. We shall not be moved!

SAN FERNANDO VALLEY LOCAL

Some of the tenants of 11815 Gilmore St. in North Hollywood started going on a rent strike against their landlord Jeff Greene at the beginning of June. There are 21 units on rent strike out of the 49. Most of the tenants were present at the last meeting on June 5 and brought their money orders. The management has demanded tenants stop meeting in the common area and outlined verbally that they weren’t allowed to do so anymore. No three-day notices have been served yet. The tenants will be meeting again on June 12.

VYBE LOCAL

Hillside Villa is back in the fight against landlord Tom Botz and his progeny. After a tentative agreement to extend affordable housing covenant for another 10 years, Botz pulled out at the last minute and served the tenants in the Tenants Association with 60 Day notices. Councilmember Gil Cedillo is finally doing his job by stepping into the fight. After months of outreach to Cedillo and his staff, the realization dawned on him that his constituents and voters who put him in power needed him to stand up for them. We believe that the lawyer representing Botz, Brandon Diamond, is goading Botz into pulling out of the deal. The lawyer is of note because Brandon Diamond also represents one of the worst “top 10 s#it list” landlords in LA, LIsa Ehrlich, owner of the Burlington Buildings in Westlake. If you’d like to call Brandon and let him know to “STOP MESSING WITH THE HOUSING OF TENANTS AT HILLSIDE VILLA. WE KNOW YOUR ROLE — AGREE TO THE DEAL,” Please call 818–574–4770.

Historic Edgeware Tenants Association are well into the fight against Tenants In Common (TIC)s that we are now calling Owners In Common (OIC) or Displacers In Common (DIC). Expect big news from VyBe on this new form of displacement happening in Los Angeles. Displacers In Common decimated RSO housing in San Francisco and the same banks and developers are doing this in LA — #dontbeaDIC, leave RSO housing alone!

EAST HOLLYWOOD LOCAL

The East Hollywood Local, LATU’s ninth Local, is officially up and running!! The three Mariposa Avenue buildings with the same property owner continue their struggle against a greedy landlord who forces tenants to live in dangerous and unsanitary conditions. The northernmost building on Mariposa Avenue has formed their own tenants’ association. The southern building is gathering tenants to form a second (building-specific) association. Meanwhile, the women on Mariposa Avenue have done outreach across East Hollywood in an effort to bring tenants in crisis into the union. At the new Local’s first meeting on June 5, a large group of tenants from the Kingswood Apartments came out for union support in the face of unfair rent increases that will force many tenants out of their housing. The Kingswood tenants held an emergency meeting on June 9 to discuss their collective demands and form an association.

MID-CITY LOCAL

The Livonia Tenants Association and the Mid-City Local are organizing with another property located in Del Rey on Berryman St — the Berryman tenants, mostly senior citizens, were just served with Ellis evictions. The fight to have them stay in their homes is just starting and they will need a lot of support! The Detroit Tenants Association is looking for strategies to fight the use of units in their building for AirBnBs and wants to learn more from others who have fought against them. One of our members has been displaced from her home by a neglectful landlord refusing to remediate mold they created — reach out to mid-city@latenantsunion.org if you are interested in supporting her.

NORTHEAST LOCAL

The Cinco Puntos tenants in Lincoln Heights won an important first victory on June 5th when Felipe, the first tenant to face trial, won in court against his landlord Ken Wong. The tenants celebrated Felipe’s victory with an impromptu, celebratory direct action in the landlord’s community, San Marino. They are fired up to continue the fight until Ken Wong negotiates a fair deal with his tenants.

LANGUAGE JUSTICE COMMITTEE

The Language Justice Committee presented a proposal at the last spokes council to restructure the work of the committee as one that supports building the capacity of each local to ensure language justice, instead of simply providing that capacity. This work will be led by two point people for each local, made up of LJ committee members or one committee member and one (other) local member. We plan on meeting with each local about their language justice needs, and engaging in activities like recruitment and more regular training and practice to build that capacity.

LEGISLATIVE UPDATES

Last week, the California Assembly let a bill die that would have required landlords to show “just cause” (AB 1481) before they could evict a renter. Other efforts to let cities expand rent control (AB 36) and track evictions (AB 724) were killed. A tenant organization-sponsored bill (SB 529) to protect tenants who form tenant associations from eviction — failed by one vote in the Senate. An anti-rent gouging bill (AB 1482) designed to stop excessive rent increases was so watered down by powerful real estate interests that it will be practically ineffectual. Assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco) was forced to weaken his anti-rent gouging bill which will now cap annual rent increases at 7% plus inflation and will last just three years.

The connection between lack of tenant protections and homelessness became glaringly apparent when LAHSA released its 2019 Homeless count numbers on June 4th. The report showed homelessness is getting worse across LA County increasing 12% and 16% in LA City. 60% of LA County houseless individuals became homeless for the first time. The report showed double-digit increases in the number of people living in cars, tents, shelters and on the streets — spurred, almost everyone agrees, by a lack of low-income housing, unaffordable rent hikes, unjustified evictions and a lack of comprehensive tenant protections. The limitations of rent control leave the majority of renters with no protection if a landlord wants to jack up the rent or boot them out. Lawmakers and Gov Newsom need to get serious and pay more than lip service to tenant protections.

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