Home News US Tenants Mobilize to Demand Rent Controls

US Tenants Mobilize to Demand Rent Controls

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When the African American Research Community Surveyed a cross-section of Florida voters Earlier this fall, more than 25% of those surveyed reported having experienced homelessness at some point in the last few years.

This came as no surprise to Sheena D. Rolle, the company’s senior director of strategy. florida risingis an organization formed in 2021 through the merger of New Florida Majority and Organize Florida. According to its website, the group’s goal is to “win elections, change laws, and create conditions where everyone can be safe, happy, healthy and whole.”

Of course, permanently affordable housing is key to achieving this result. “Winning rent control is a bipartisan issue across Florida,” Rolle said. truth“We see that support for rent protection is almost universal, regardless of age, race, gender, or home ownership status, and that people are moving towards an ideology of housing as a human right, a value.” This confirms the findings of the African American Research Community, she says. “People are realizing how homelessness has normalized. I know someone who lives in a car parked in the parking lot of

It’s not just Florida. Tenant activists and housing justice organizers across the country are mobilizing to respond to the unprecedented rise in rental housing costs. Evictions threaten about 3.6 million tenants Every year when payment is overdue.

The reason is clear. Because the rent is too high.

As of February 2022, the average monthly rent for a two-bedroom apartment in the US is $1,295, up from $1,100 a year ago, according to statista.com, a company that monitors business trends.

Even more outrageous, online rental marketplace rent.com says 19 states saw average rents rise by more than 10%, with two states, Florida and South Dakota, seeing what the real estate industry is calling. “Registered rent growth” exceeding 20% From October 2021 to October 2022.

Reversing this trend and winning protection against landlord price increases will take a long process, Rolle said, ranging from electing tenant-friendly legislators to enacting strong regulations to set rent and lease renewal caps. , and up to providing free lawyer to low-income tenants at risk of eviction.

Many cities and towns are already doing these things.While some housing activists are working push the white house Others have issued executive orders to regulate rents in federally managed housing, including a statewide ban on municipal rent regulation, a ban on tenants entering into or renewing leases. We are working to overturn a rule that prohibits local legislators from limiting the amount landlords can sometimes charge. 37 states have this kind of restriction on the book. in the meantime, Currently, 182 municipalities have some form of rent control. Tenant and housing justice advocates are working hard to expand that number by encouraging progressive city and state legislators to introduce tenant protection measures.

Additionally, in some areas, voters in the November midterm elections had the opportunity to join ballot measures in favor of rent regulation. In Pasadena, California, for example, voters approved an initiative to limit rent increases to his 75% of the consumer price index, banning landlords from evicting tenants without good reason. Even more impressive are the tenants in Kingston, New York. voted to lower the rent 15 percent.

Regardless of approach, they’re cutting the work. Despite broad public support for their efforts, the battle to expand tenant protections faces both legislative hurdles and fierce opposition from well-funded landlords. Thanks to groups such as RealPage, a technology giant that sells software to property owners and managers, real estate lobbies are pouring tens of thousands of dollars into campaigns to thwart pro-tenant voting initiatives and recruit pro-tenant candidates. defeated. Especially in California. Activists there report property gains have spent estimates since 2018 $ 1,000,000 To defeat two proposals sponsored by Housing Is a Human Right and its parent organization, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. Both would have ended statewide restrictions on rent regulation.

Similarly, the pro-landlord National Multifamily Housing Council continually denounces rent regulations, telling the public that such laws do more harm than good. “Rather than improving the availability of affordable housing, the Rent Control Act will exacerbate shortages and degrade existing buildings,” their website says.

Housing justice activists call this a hodgepodge, blaming landlord greed for poor building maintenance and a slowdown in affordable new housing construction.

But even if rent control wins, tenants may continue to face financial hardships.

take Oregon. In 2019, Oregon passed statewide rent regulations. Senate Bill 608. Lauren Nardoza, Policy and Communications Manager neighborhood partnershipThe organizing chairman of the Oregon Housing Alliance explains that the law allows landlords to increase rents by 7% plus inflation annually. “Inflation is usually not something we worry too much about, but this year was not the norm,” Nardosa said. truth“Record-high inflation will limit rent increases to 14.6% in 2023. This is a big deal for many Oregonians, who already have a serious rent burden and are already spending 30% of their income. For people paying over 100% in rent, this is effectively an eviction notice.”

According to him, this uncomfortable reality makes Neighborhood Partnerships more accessible to people living in so-called affordable housing — not just public housing residents, but those with Section 8 vouchers or other housing subsidies — and the state. Facilitates conversations between members of parliament. We understand the impact rent increases will have on the state’s poorest residents and will do something to help them.

“is more than 100 million people live in [200 percent of] of federal poverty line”, Jasmine Rangel, Senior Housing Associate policy linkthe National Research and Action Agency Working to Promote Racial and Economic Equity, said: truth“A homeowner with a 30-year fixed mortgage rate basically has control over the price of their home. I can not do it.”

Ballot initiatives like the one passed in Oregon in 2019 have traditionally been seen as an effective way to regulate the cost of rental housing, but these measures include rent rollbacks. Long-term usefulness is likely to be limited, as there is no

“Many people are in danger of not being able to pay their rent,” says Rangel. “Unexpected car repairs and medical bills can put them in a tight spot financially. less than one month’s rent, caused by an emergency they did not anticipate. When people know that their landlord’s whim won’t raise their rent, they can plan their finances and save for emergencies. “

But even the best of plans can sometimes go awry. This was discovered when voters in St. Paul, Minnesota and Minneapolis voted in his 2021 to limit landlords from imposing rent increases of more than 3% on his 12-month period. rice field. Despite the electoral mandate, within a year of his passage, largely conservative city councils in both cities had nullified votes and watered down protections.

Joe Hesla, member of the Coordinating Committee Minneapolis United for Rent Control Said truth While housing activists continue to call for strong rent protection in the twin cities, the City of Minneapolis has commissioned a Housing/Rent Stabilization Working Group and plans to issue policy recommendations sometime in December. I’m sure I’ll either make a recommendation or write nothing,” he says. “We know that 56% of African Americans in the city pay their rent, and they pay more than 30% of their income in rent, but every renter is in the crosshairs. If you don’t own a home, and most people in town don’t own one, you’re at risk.”

Hesla expects a lengthy struggle to enact meaningful rent protection not just in Minnesota, but across the country. “We have to fight like tigers,” he says. It will be very brutal. “

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