Councilmember Funds Rent Relief, Eviction Defense for Tenants in the 11th District

LOS ANGELES – With economic pressure tightening on local renters, Councilmember Mike Bonin is allocating funds to provide rent relief and eviction defense for tenants living in his Westside district.

Bonin introduced motions this week to spend $253,000 of his office’s discretionary funds to help tenants stay housed. The action will provide grants to the Latino Resource Organization (LRO) and the Los Angeles Legal Aid Foundation (LAFLA) for work specifically in the 11th District. It is the latest in a series of moves Bonin has made as a champion for tenants, who make up more than half the population of Los Angeles, and of the 11th District.

“Families are struggling, hanging on by their fingernails to keep their homes and avoid homelessness,” Bonin said. “Every dollar we invest in helping someone pay rent or avoid eviction spares a family from misery, and prevents another person from winding up on our streets, living in a tent.”

The first motion allocates $100,000 to LRO, which operates the West LA FamilySource Center, offering social, educational, work and family support services designed to assist low-income families. The funds will pay for an expansion of the city’s Solid Ground program, and provide financial support to help approximately 70 families avoid homelessness. The funds will assist Westside tenants who did not receive Emergency Rental Assistance Program funds from the state.

An additional $153,000 will go to the Stay Housed L.A. program, operated by LAFLA. The program informs tenants of the rights and services available to them, and provides legal representation for people facing eviction. Bonin has been a strong advocate for a “right to counsel” for people facing eviction. Ninety percent of landlords are represented by legal counsel in evictions, but fewer than 10 percent of tenants have representation. When they have representation, tenants usually prevail in eviction proceedings.

“Preventing evictions is one of the best homelessness prevention strategies we have,” Bonin said. “Housing insecurity and economic instability are the biggest drivers of homelessness, and it is helluva lot easier and less expensive to keep people housed than it is to help them once they have become unhoused.”

Bonin is also hosting a Town Hall Thursday night to help renters learn more about the maze of laws and available programs. It will feature representatives from the Los Angeles Housing Department, Coalition for Economic Survival, and Eviction Defense Network.

Bonin has been a leader in fighting to keep tenants housed. In that role, he has:

  • Proposed, at the start of the COVID pandemic, a complete moratorium on evictions in Los Angeles. It was ultimately rejected by the full City Council, but it led to stronger protections than the council had been considering, including a partial moratorium on evictions that extends for one year past the end of the COVID state of emergency.
  • Co-authored the ban on rent increases in units governed by the city’s Rent Stabilization Ordinance. That ban, which covers nearly 80% of the rental units in the City, lasts for the entirety of the COVID state of emergency, plus one year.
  • Been the first LA leader to call for a COVID-era rent forgiveness program, leading to LA’s eventual creation of the nation’s largest rent relief program.
  • Supported laws prohibiting landlords from harassing tenants and forcing them to self-evict.
  • Co-authored the ban on COVID-era Ellis Act evictions.
  • Co-authored the Home Sharing Ordinance, which prohibited property owners from reducing long-term stock by turning buildings into rogue hotels.
  • Proposed a local “fair chance” ordinance prohibiting screening of tenants based on eviction history,  credit history, or criminal history.

The funding motions, submitted Tuesday, are expected to be formally approved by the full City Council before the end of the month.

– # # # –