Councilman, Activists Propose Solutions to Affordable Housing Crisis 

LOS ANGELES (February 12, 2020)  – City Councilmember Mike Bonin today joined affordable housing activists and grassroots neighborhood leaders to announce proposals that lay the foundation for a local version of the “Homes Guarantee,” a nationwide campaign for “safe, accessible, sustainable, and permanently affordable housing for all.”  

In a package of motions Bonin submitted to the City Council Wednesday, the Westside councilman proposed several measures to address the affordable housing crisis. They include proposals to build publicly-financed “social housing,” to strengthen the city’s Rent Stabilization Ordinance, to mandate disclosure requirements for LLCs and shell companies purchasing residential property, and to endorse federal legislation that would fund social housing and energy retrofits of public housing.

Dubbed “Homes Guarantee LA,” the series of proposals build on additional efforts by Bonin and several of his colleagues to confront the affordable housing crisis in Los Angeles and mirrors grassroots and legislative efforts to do so across the country. 

“Families losing their homes are insisting that the city must do more to protect renters, preserve existing affordable housing, and create more affordable housing,” Bonin said. “ This Homes Guarantee LA comes from our neighborhoods, and is being pushed by the residents of our city who are living the reality of this affordable crisis and demand more aggressive action.”

The national Homes Guarantee plan focuses on creating new social housing, reinvesting in existing public housing, protecting renters and bank tenants, repairing centuries of racist housing policies, and ending real estate speculation and de-commodifying housing. It was launched by People’s Action​, one of the largest, multi-racial people’s organizations in the country, with 48 member organizations in 30 states and more than a million grassroots leaders. 

Among the ideas proposed by Bonin Wednesday was for the City to explore investing in social housing – a model of public housing popular and successful in parts of Europe and in Singapore. Publicly-owned and offering below-market rents to tenants of mixed-income levels, social housing has built strong and vibrant mixed-income communities by offering homes that are stably priced and maintained by nonprofit housing providers, land trusts, cooperatives, or government.

“Living in a safe and dignified home should be a right for everyone. A Homes Guarantee for Los Angeles that includes the city’s commitment to creating social housing and limiting rent increases is vital for keeping struggling low-income Angelenos housed,” said Laura Raymond, Director with Alliance for Community Transit – Los Angeles (ACT-LA).  “Our City’s homelessness and housing affordability crises demand bold policies, including public investment in social housing that guarantees all families have a roof over their head.”

The Homes Guarantee LA package also included proposals to: 

  • Tie rent-controlled buildings’ annual increases more closely to inflation, to protect renters from being gouged; 
  • Create new disclosure requirements to determine the extent of  speculative real estate purchases in Los Angeles; 
  • Support Representative Ilhan Omar’s Homes for All Act, which would provide federal funding for social housing; and
  • Support Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal for Public Housing, which would provide funds for energy retrofits of public housing.

“Increasingly, our markets and our laws regard housing as something people invest in, and not somewhere people live. If we are ever going to truly confront our affordable housing and homelessness crises, we must treat housing as a right, and not just a commodity,” Bonin said. “This is part of a big, broad and growing effort to do just that.”

The Homes Guarantee is the result of grassroots leaders from all over the country coming together and imagining how housing should work,” said Daisy Vega, a resident of public housing on the Westside and a member of People Organized for Westside Renewal. “Public housing, rent control, and private market tenants, underwater homeowners and unhoused people, came up with their own vision for how we can guarantee housing to every person in the richest country in history. Not surprisingly, their vision looks a lot different than the housing market we have now.”

“Every day, families in Los Angeles are displaced from their homes,” added Joe Donlin, Director of Equitable Development at SAJE-Strategic Actions for a Just Economy. “The Homes Guarantee motions are the kinds of bold steps we need to take in Los Angeles to ensure we keep our communities strong. Strengthening rent stabilization and advancing social housing goals are critical to achieve housing justice.”

“I’m grateful to Councilmember Bonin for offering bold solutions that address our housing crisis and prevent more people from falling into homelessness,” said Dr. David Levitus, Executive Director of LA Forward. “Limiting rent gouging and preventing unaccountable speculation will help stop the bleeding while building social housing — will finally offer homes that are 100% removed from marketplace pressures. From struggling gig workers to mid-career professionals, LA Forward members are excited to live in these diverse, mixed-income, self-sustaining social housing communities in the not-too-distant future.”

Wednesday’s motions build on several other proposals Bonin has championed to address the affordable housing crisis, such as an “empty homes” penalty (co-sponsored by Councilmembers Marqueece Harris-Dawson and David Ryu); the closing of loopholes in city rules governing affordable housing in the coastal zone; and a clampdown on evictions due to condo conversions. They also build on efforts by Bonin’s colleagues, such anti-tenant harassment rules (Councilmember Jose Huizar), a measure prohibiting discrimination against people with housing vouchers (Councilmember Paul Krekorian), a right to counsel for people facing eviction (Councilmember Paul Koretz); inclusionary zoning (Councilmember Gil Cedillo); a linkage fee (Councilmember Herb Wesson); a halt to no-fault eviction and predatory rent hikes (Council President Nury Martinez, Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell, Councilmember Curren Price); value capture (O’Farrell); 

For more about Homes Guarantee LA, please visit 11thdistrict.com/HomesGuaranteeLA

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BONIN Motion Social Housing

 

BONIN Motion RSO Increases

 

BONIN Motion LLC Disclosure

 

BONIN Reso Homes For All Act

 

BONIN Reso Green New Deal for Public Housing