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If veteran activist Daniel Hayes can get a growth-limitation initiative on the November ballot, he’ll not only have to contend with Colorado business and municipal groups that are expected to oppose it, but also with gubernatorial candidates from both major parties.
Every significant candidate for Colorado governor has come out against the proposal already.
Last month, at a Colorado Association of Realtors forum, gubernatorial candidates were asked if they support or oppose Initiative 66, which seeks to cap new housing permits in each of the 10 largest Front Range counties to a 1 percent annual increase — a pace that would slow the current growth rate in each of those counties since 2011.
All eight of the candidates who attended or submitted answers for the event came out against the measure, and the communications director for U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, who missed the forum, said Friday that the Boulder Democrat also is against it.
This rare show of unanimity among both Republican and Democratic candidates doesn’t necessarily spell doom for the measure, as Coloradans have passed constitutional amendments in the past that garnered little or no support from state political leaders.
But the opinions offered by the candidates seeking to succeed term-limited Gov. John Hickenlooper in the November election show that, despite a groundswell of anti-growth sentiment among some Colorado voters, potential state leaders favor ways of managing growth or addressing issues that lead to the slow-growth sentiment, such as increasing traffic congestion.
“It’s certainly a wake-up call, I think, to all of us about how people feel about what we’re dealing with as a city and a state,” said Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, who is seeking the Republican gubernatorial nomination. “We want to have serious conversations, … but limiting growth in such an arbitrary manner is not the solution.”
Initiative 66 is being steered by Hayes, a a Golden landlord and graduate-school student who has backed local slow-growth initiatives for a quarter-century. The Colorado Supreme Court recently cleared the way for Hayes to begin collecting the signatures he will need to get the measure on the statewide ballot.
In addition to capping the growth of housing units in 10 Front Range counties — Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Denver, Douglas, El Paso, Jefferson, Larimer and Weld — the measure would allow other cities and counties to put such a growth-capping initiative onto their local ballots and would not allow for petitions to remove the cap until 2021 at the earliest.
Hayes, who led the successful fight for a similar cap in his home city in 1995, said he believes that limiting the proliferation of housing will ease the congestion on area roadways and will aid school systems struggling with a crush of students.
A November study from the Common Sense Policy Roundtable, the Colorado Association of Realtors, Colorado Concern and the Denver South Economic Development Partnership argued, however, that capping new housing units would drive up already escalating housing costs. It also said such a cap would reduce employment in the construction industry in Colorado and could spread growth into rural counties that are not required to abide by the 1 percent cap.
Several candidates referred to that study in citing their opposition to the proposal, and many of the gubernatorial contenders referred to the measure’s caps as “arbitrary.”
Several also offered alternate plans to deal with growth issues.
Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne, a Democrat, said she would create a Cabinet-level Department of Housing that works with the private sector on issues like affordability.
Democratic businessman Noel Ginsburg said he would put together a commission to look at issues like water, transportation and land use and how they play into growth.
Both Coffman and former Colorado Treasurer Cary Kennedy, a Democrat, said they would work more closely with local government officials and private-sector leaders to address citizen concerns.
Former state Rep. Victor Mitchell, a Republican, said he would not look to limit growth but instead would look to roll back regulations in order to create more affordable housing. One particular change he would make, he said, would be to allow any builder to receive a building permit by going to an accredited architect rather than by having to go to local-government offices.
Several other officials gave less defined plans but expressed a common theme that Coloradans’ concerns about growth can be addressed through better comprehensive planning.
“Yes, we want to grow. We want to grow in a way that is planned,” said former Democratic state Sen. Michael Johnston.
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Rank Business name Dollar volume of homes completed in the Denver area in 2016 1 Richmond American Homes of Colorado Inc. $573,313,535 2 Lennar – Colorado $441,881,818 3 Ryland Homes $366,000,000 View This List
The Colorado Supreme Court has ruled against an effort to keep an initiative limiting Front Range housing growth off the November ballot.
The ruling sets the stage for a historic electoral battle over whether the rapid growth of areas from Colorado Springs to Greeley can be allowed to continue unabated.
Justices affirmed a ruling of the state’s Ballot Title Board that petitioner Daniel Hayes of Golden, a veteran backer of local slow-growth initiatives for a quarter-century, can begin collecting signatures on Initiative 66.
The measure would:
Limit the growth of new housing units in 10 Front Range counties — Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Denver, Douglas, El Paso, Jefferson, Larimer and Weld — to no more than 1 percent a year.Allow other cities and counties to ask voters to approve similar regulations.Establish statutory requirements on the number of voters required to launch such local elections.
The Colorado Association of Home Builders had petitioned the court to rule that the initiative violates the single-subject rule on statewide ballot questions. But the court declined to do so.
As a result, Hayes said he expects to get the petition form as soon as Friday.
He is negotiating with a Colorado Springs signature-collection firm to handle the petitions for Initiative 66. He believes that if the company can come to an agreement with him on cost, he will find plenty of support among potential voters to put the question before them.
“Once we get started, you can pretty much be assured that it’ll be on the ballot,” Hayes said Thursday. “The people are sick and tired of this.”
Leaders of the Colorado Association of Home Builders (CAHB), meanwhile, will pivot to organizing a coalition of groups to oppose the measure — a coalition that is likely to include builders, business interests, municipal leaders and even educators concerned with what effect such a curtailing of housing growth could have on generating property tax revenue for the state’s school systems.
The message will be multifaceted: That Initiative 66 would limit new housing, driving up already escalating home and apartment prices, and that it would sour potential employers who are looking to expand or relocate to Colorado, bringing the state’s rapid economic development to a grinding halt, CAHB chief executive Ted Leighty said.
“You’re going to artificially truncate supply,” Leighty said of the potential effect of Initiative 66. “It’s going to exacerbate the affordability issue because they’ll no longer have the market set demand. It’s going to have it defined for them.”
Cumulative household growth in the 10 largest Front Range counties has averaged between 2 and 2.2 percent each year since 2011, with none of the counties experiencing an annual growth of less than 1.3 percent in any year during that time.
That growth is expected to continue at rates between 1.7 percent and 2 percent over the next 10 years — including growth of more than 3 percent annually in Broomfield and Weld counties for several years to come.
So the initiative could force significant cutbacks in the housing units allowed in each place going forward.
Limiting a housing market that already has historically few properties for sale will drive up costs because of a lack of supply, Leighty said, and it will drive down employment opportunities in the construction industry.
A study done in November by a collaboration called REMI Partnership estimated that Initiative 66 could drive down the amount of building by 26,050 units in the 10 counties over the next two years, cutting construction employment 10 percent and costing the state $353 million in tax revenue.
REMI Partnership is a collaboration of the Common Sense Policy Roundtable, the Colorado Association of Realtors, Colorado Concern and the Denver South Economic Development Partnership.
An analysis by the Legislature’s nonpartisan Legislative Council also suggested that the measure could lead growth to sprawl into counties where there is not a limit on new housing units.
“The value and price of existing housing units may increase in communities where there are binding growth limits, impacting potential home buyers and existing homeowners, landlords and tenants. Limits on housing permits will also impact the geographic distribution of construction employment, retail trade and population between different areas within Colorado,” the analysis said.
“Assuming the measure’s 1 percent growth limits are binding for some counties, the measure will shift construction employment and activity from counties that meet the 1 percent limit to jurisdictions where the 1 percent limit is not binding," it said. "Accordingly, some construction employment and activity will shift from the 10 named counties to neighboring counties without a growth limit.”
Under Hayes’ proposal, those 10 counties would be allowed to increase housing units by just 1 percent a year in 2019 and 2020, with each stand-alone home or apartment unit, rather than apartment building, counting as one unit toward that cap.
Local residents could petition to remove the cap beginning in 2021. And other cities and counties could seek elections to impose it beginning next year.
Hayes, who owns about 20 rental units and is a graduate-school student in psychology at the University of Denver, has experience in this area, having led the effort to impose a cap on annual new housing units in Golden in 1995.
And his petition comes during a time of rising anti-growth sentiment in the Denver area. Several suburbs voted slow-growth majorities onto their city councils in November, and polls show significant pushback against the state’s efforts to recruit Amazon.com Inc.’s second headquarters and the 50,000 workers it would employ.
He said Thursday that his efforts are driven by his belief that unfettered growth has led not to increasing traffic congestion in the Denver area and to the decreasing quality of schools in places like Jefferson County. This measure would cure some of the ills that gall residents, he said.
“If you let developers get their way, you’re going to have solid growth from Colorado Springs to Fort Collins and it would be a mess,” he said.
2018 Largest Denver-Area Engineering Firms
Ranked by Number of licensed engineers in Colorado as of Nov. 1, 2017
Rank Business name Number of licensed engineers in Colorado as of Nov. 1, 2017 1 AECOM 350 2 Jacobs 115 3 Martin/Martin Inc. 115 View This List
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Family and friends are not surprised that Jeanna Leslie offered a helping hand to a stranger.
But they are shocked that the stranger, a man described as homeless, stabbed her to death with kitchen knives in a bloody attack in her own home, according to police.
She had just moved to Denver from Texas a few months ago.
Police found Leslie’s body in her downtown loft early on Valentine’s Day after she failed to pick up her children to go to a Nuggets game, the Denver Post reported.
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The 49-year-old mother of four had been stabbed multiple times. Blood was found on the walls and carpeting of the studio apartment, and it appeared someone had tried to clean it up, police reported.
On Friday, following a tip on his whereabouts, police arrested 40-year-old Terry Dunford. He is being held on first-degree murder charges, according to the Post.
“You always want to do the right thing,” neighbor Antonio Grant told CBS 4 in Denver. “And that’s all she was doing was the right thing.
“That just speaks volumes of who she was. A beautiful soul. Really nice lady.”
Leslie moved to Colorado in November to be close to two teenage children who had moved there from San Antonio, family members said. She had taught English at a San Antonio charter school for about 15 years.
Authorities are not sure how Leslie became acquainted with Dunford, but family members told Fox 31 in Denver it wasn’t surprising that she would try to help someone down on his luck.
The alternative weekly newspaper in Denver, Westword, described Leslie as a “vibrant free spirit.” When she visited Europe last year with her children she took along a small figurine of an angel.
She quickly fell in love with Denver, documenting her new adventure on her Facebook page. She posted photos of her apartment, which she called “decorator heaven.”
“Denver has a unique culture that combines majestic realism with the myth of the untamed West,” she gushed on Facebook last fall.
“It is as beautiful as the people. With change comes growth, and Denver will change anyone for the better.”
Friends and neighbors said Leslie had been working seasonal jobs at Banana Republic and with Uber and Lyft as she made her way back into teaching.
Leslie’s ex-husband reportedly was the one who called 911 the night of Feb. 13 after she didn’t pick up her teenage son and daughter for the basketball game. Police went to her apartment shortly after midnight.
The arrest warrant, released Saturday, said Leslie’s body was inside her apartment for nearly a week before officers found her.
Police and firefighters broke down the door and were overwhelmed by the “smell of decomposition,” according to the police affidavit.
Police found Leslie’s body in a bathroom with multiple stab wounds. Several bloody kitchen knives were found; so were a pair of men’s camouflage cargo pants and a large sweatshirt, both bloodied.
Police also found Dunford’s wallet with several photo ID cards inside, including a Denver Rescue Mission identification card issued on Feb. 7, the day police believe he allegedly killed Leslie. That was the last day she sent a text or made a call on her cellphone.
There were also two empty six-packs of beer in the apartment. Police found a receipt for a liquor store in a pocket of the cargo pants. The date said 5:04 p.m. Feb. 7.
Surveillance video from the liquor store showed Leslie in the store with a man with a goatee. He was wearing cargo pants and a sweatshirt.
Leslie’s oldest daughter, Brittany Leslie, guessed that her mom could have run into Dunford outside her apartment building or nearby sometime in the last couple of weeks.
Westword noted that one of Leslie’s Facebook posts said she had “just got offered the best job on 16th Street,” an area where the homeless are known to congregate.
“She was a very open person,” Brittany told Fox 31 in Denver. “She made friends with everyone. You can’t just trust everyone. It doesn’t matter who they are. It doesn’t matter where they come from.”
Brittany said Dunford took advantage of her mother and wanted to move into her loft with a friend. She said her mother told Dunford no and had confided to a cousin that Dunford sent her threatening messages.
“It’s just really upsetting,” Brittany told the TV station. “I wish she would’ve told us. I really do wish she would’ve showed us.”
Leslie’s family, friends and former students have flooded her Facebook page with grief in recent days. A GoFund Me campaign has been set up to pay for her funeral and burial.
“It’s a shock. It’s surreal,” Leslie’s 20-year-old daughter, Audra, told CBS 4.
“You don’t know where to go from here … she had four kids who are, we’re all pretty young. And you kind of need your mom in your life.”
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Voters hold signs demonstrating their support for legislation that would allow California communities to expand rent-control policies during a legislative hearing in Sacramento, California, on January 11, 2018. (AP Photo / Kathleen Ronayne)
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Socrates Guzman tends to get tearful when he talks about his housing troubles. For 11 years, he says, he lived in a small apartment in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston, traveling back and forth from his job as a janitor and paying $1,000 a month in rent. Then, one day in 2016, he learned that his home had been sold to a new landlord, and that the landlord wanted to raise his rent to $1,850 a month. He would be out on the street within a month if he didn’t pay up.
“There was no way I could catch up to $1,850 a month,” he says. “I can’t pay that amount. That is a crazy increase.”
Guzman thought the price hike might be illegal under city law, but soon realized that rent control does not exist in Boston. So he connected with a group called City Life, a local eviction-defense group that helped him organize his neighbors. Together, they fought in housing court and stretched the legal process long enough that their new landlord eventually gave up and agreed to sign a three-year contract that significantly reduced the proposed rent hike.
Now, nearly two years later, Guzman is a full-blown tenants’-rights organizer, helping other renters navigate housing court and working with City Life on a long-term campaign to enshrine rent protections in Boston. “Rent control is the key,” he says. “Nothing else is going to help.”
Araceli Barrera is a housekeeper at a hotel in Denver. Last year, the apartment where she lives with her husband and two children was overrun with an insect infestation. She says she had to trash most of her belongings and move out. When her landlord took her to housing court to force her to fulfill the final months of her lease agreement, she turned to a local renters coalition called Colorado Homes for All. The group provided her with a pro bono lawyer who helped defend her in the case.
The experience politicized her. Now Barrera is helping Homes for All push a bill in the state legislature that would allow Colorado tenants to withhold rent from their landlords if their housing is in disrepair.
“I lost everything, my belongings, my home, and the life of my family was uprooted,” she says in Spanish. “That makes me want to fight harder. I want to go to the capitol and tell my story and be heard.”
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In 2013, Cynthia Berger found herself living in her minivan in Santa Cruz, California. She had lost her job after the 2008 financial crisis and had to ask friends to let her park on their property. During this period, she started studying the housing market, trying to understand why people like her were forced to live such precarious lives. She contacted a state-wide renters’ organization called Tenants Together. Its staff members trained her in the art of organizing.
“I learned that renters have few rights in this state,” she says. “And I learned that rent gouging is the order of the day.”
Soon after, she started a hotline for tenants in her city. She connected with other outraged renters and housing activists. Today she and a group of allies are running a campaign to put a rent-control and just-cause-eviction ordinance on the 2018 ballot in Santa Cruz. (Just-cause-eviction regulations stipulate that landlords can evict tenants only if they fail to pay rent or somehow breach their lease. They cannot evict renters arbitrarily.)
“The landlord lobby is a billion-dollar lobby,” Berger says. “It will be hard, but we have to do it.”
These stories and others like them are the visible roots of a nascent tenants’-rights movement taking form across America today. From Massachusetts and Minnesota to California and Colorado, renters are in revolt. They are organizing in individual cities from coast to coast to form tenants’ unions and push new rent regulations, including rent control, just-cause eviction and similar policies. They are working in state legislatures to overturn long-standing bans on commonsense tenant protections. And under the aegis of a national campaign called Homes for All, they are connecting with each other. Out of their disparate and localized concerns, they aim to build a mass movement that can lift housing justice to the very top of the national agenda.
“If we are going to win we have to organize a critical mass of impacted residents across the country,” says Anthony Romano, director of organizing at Right to the City, which is leading the Homes for All campaign. We have to “build an army.”
For countless Americans—black, white and brown, immigrant and native born, documented and not—housing is a source of wrenching, and deeply personal, desperation.
There are more than half a million homeless people living on America’s streets or in shelters, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development. One fifth of them are children. At least 11 million tenants across the country are severely rent burdened, meaning they pay more than 50 percent of their income to their landlords. Twenty million Americans live in housing poverty, a situation in which people pay their monthly rent and don’t have enough money left over for food, medical care, and other necessities. Since 2007, median gross rents across the country have climbed by 6 percent. In the same period, median income for tenant households has inched up by just 1 percent. Gentrification is rapidly displacing long-time residents in urban centers across the country. Evictions, meanwhile, are a widespread plague.
“Every year in this country,” writes Harvard social-sciences professor Matthew Desmond in Evicted, his Pulitzer Prize–winning book on the housing crisis, “families are evicted from their homes not by the tens of thousands or even the hundreds of thousands, but by the millions.”
This is the housing catastrophe that Homes for All and its allies hope to eradicate. And they are mobilizing against it in many places and from many angles, building their base among the more than 40 million households that rent in America today. They want to create a national coalition that can finally harvest popular discontent about the state of this country’s post-financial-crisis housing market.
In Denver, for instance, the Colorado Homes for All campaign is recruiting tenants like Araceli Barrera to construct a political base that is capable of pushing legislation at both the local and state level. As in many places across the country, a preemption law passed by the state legislature in 1981 bars Colorado cities from establishing rent control in their jurisdictions. Colorado Homes for All aims to overturn that prohibition, but first it has set its sights on an easier objective. This year it will be rallying its supporters to pass a “warranty of habitability” bill in the state legislature that effectively allows tenants to go on rent strike if their housing is infested with pests, in disrepair or otherwise fails to meet adequate standards.
Out of their disparate and localized concerns, they aim to build a mass movement that can lift housing justice to the very top of the national agenda.
Andrea Chiriboga-Flor, an organizer with the group, says the bill will be introduced in the legislative session this year. It was born directly out of the experiences of Barrera and other tenants living in substandard housing.
“It is really exciting,” she says, “because it’s the first bill that came directly from tenants’ stories.” In the months ahead, she adds, her group’s members will be lobbying at the state capital and holding continuous meetings and rallies to advocate for the legislation.
Anthony Romano, who helps steer Homes for All at the national level, says the “warranty of habitability” bill will be a crucial organizing tool.
“Warranty of habitability is very strategic,” he says, “because it essentially legalizes rent strikes and can help you expand the movement tremendously.”
Tenants in Boston are taking a similarly strategic approach. Massachusetts law prohibits rent control too, and so the tenant-defense group City Life—a key member of the national Homes for All coalition—has successfully pushed a bill in recent months that uses other means to protect renters facing eviction. Called the Jim Brooks Stabilization Act, the law requires landlords to inform the city when they intend to evict tenants. This requirement will give local officials and advocacy groups the ability to more comprehensively assist tenants in eviction proceedings, inform them of their rights and organize them. The bill passed the City Council in October, and must now be approved by the state legislature.
“It is a step in the right direction,” says Helen Matthews, a staffer at City Life. “Ultimately we are gearing up for rent control.”
Socrates Guzman, who has been helping push the Jim Brooks Stabilization Act, is on board. “Without rent control it doesn’t matter what we do,” he says. “Nothing is going to change.”
In Minnesota, Oregon, and Rhode Island too, tenants groups aligned with the Homes For All campaign are building power. In Minneapolis, for instance, a group called Inquilinxs Unidxs Por Justicia is currently organizing tenants into collective-bargaining units capable of resisting rent hikes and demanding repairs at scores of buildings. In Oregon, the Portland-based Community Alliance of Tenants recently helped launch the Southern Oregon Tenants Union, the first-ever such union in the state’s rural southern region. In Providence, Rhode Island, a group called Direct Action for Rights and Equality, or DARE, is beginning to collect signatures to put a rent-control and just-cause-eviction ordinance on the 2018 ballot. The ordinance will tie rent increases to the rise in the Consumer Price Index and eliminate the ability of landlords to evict tenants without a legally justifiable reason, among other protections.
“The landlords’ association and the apartment association are going to throw out big money to stop this,” says Malchus Mills, a tenant who organizes with DARE. “So we are going directly to the people.”
There are many barriers to establishing rent control in cities across the country, but the most formidable is this: preemption. At least 27 states currently have laws on the books that explicitly bar city governments from establishing rent control and other forms of tenant protections. Landlord and real-estate lobbies, as well as right-wing groups like the Koch-backed American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), have pushed these prohibitions for decades. In Illinois in 1997, for instance, state legislators passed a law that banned local governments from enacting, maintaining, or enforcing “an ordinance or resolution that would have the effect of controlling the amount of rent charged for leasing private residences or commercial property.” According to the Chicago Reader, Michigan, Arkansas, South Dakota, and numerous other states passed strikingly similar bills in the years that followed. All of these laws, in turn, are nearly identical to a model bill called the “Rent Control Preemption Act” that the ALEC first adopted in 1995.
Tenants, however, are chafing under these punitive restrictions. In Chicago, a coalition called Lift the Ban is organizing across the city to put an end to the state’s prohibition on rent control. Backed by unions, neighborhood organizations and faith groups, the coalition has held at least 20 community meetings since its efforts began in earnest last year. It has organized door-to-door canvassing in communities across the city. It has convened large town-hall meetings to build support for its efforts. It has lobbied state legislators directly and run a social-media outreach campaign, and it plans to engage in direct action this year too. It has also placed a referendum on the March ballot in numerous wards across Chicago that will give voters an opportunity to express their support for rent control. Its ultimate goal is to build massive public support for a bill currently before the state legislature that would repeal the long-time ban.
“We are at a crossroads in Chicago,” says Jawanza Malone, executive director of the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization and a leader in the Lift the Ban coalition. “Working families are fleeing the city simply because it is getting harder and harder to make ends meet. We have to find a way for people to survive in this modern economy.”
Halfway across the country, in Washington State, organizers and sympathetic state legislators are also preparing to fight for a repeal of the state’s ban on rent regulation. Over the course of the last two years, the city of Seattle has witnessed the rise of a vigorous local tenants’ movement. In 2016, housing-justice organizers there won a suite of new rental protections through legislation passed by the City Council, including an ordinance that places strict limits on the kind of nonrefundable fees and deposits that landlords can impose on tenants. Now organizers want to take the crucial next step.
“Washington has some of the weakest tenant protections in the whole country,” says Xochitl Maykovich, the political director at the Washington Community Action Network, or Washington CAN. “Until cities are able to do what they want to solve the housing crisis, it is not going to end.”
A progressive base-building group that played an essential role in establishing Seattle’s recent renters protections, Washington CAN is currently partnering with the Washington Federation of State Employees to press the fully Democratic state government to overturn the rent-regulation prohibition. And they have an ally in State Representative Nicole Macri, who announced in this past December that she intends to introduce a bill to that effect.
“[The] last attempted repeal of the ban on rent regulation took place in the nineties,” says Maykovich. “This is the first repeal effort in well over a decade.”
These fights are about more than universal rent control. They are about the ownership structure of this country’s housing market.
That fact alone indicates just how radically the politics around renters’ rights have changed in recent years. Indeed, much of that change can be traced back to California, a state that has become the leading edge of the tenants’ movement. When the Bay Area city of Richmond passed a new rent-control ordinance in November 2016, it was as if someone flicked a flaming match into a parched forest. The new law, which tied rent increases to the Consumer Price Index and established just-cause eviction in the city, set off a conflagration of agitation and organizing and hope.
“It was enormous that rent control passed in Richmond in 2016, because that hadn’t happened for 30 years in California or anywhere really,” says Aimee Inglis, the associate director of the California-based renters group Tenants Together. “People didn’t think it was possible.”
Since then, California’s renters’ movement has exploded in scope and intensity. Last fall, Tenants Together, Homes for All, and their allies hosted a statewide renters’ assembly in the Bay Area that drew more than 500 tenants and organizers from every corner of California. They came together to meet their comrades, to discuss strategy, and to make common cause in the fight for housing rights.
People came, adds Inglis, because “they are fighting to stay in the places they care about.”
Such places include Santa Cruz, where Cynthia Berger and her group the Cruz Tenants Association are currently working to collect 8,000 signatures to put rent control and just-cause eviction on the 2018 ballot. Berger says the group’s steering committee of 25 people is recruiting canvassers from among local tenants.
“Tenants have to be at the heart of the effort,” she says. “You cannot win rent control if the tenants are not on board.”
More than 300 miles to the South, in Long Beach, the movement is also ramping up for a rent-control ballot initiative. The campaign is being led by Housing Long Beach and the Long Beach Tenants Union, alongside allies like the Long Beach Grey Panthers, a group called Latinos in Action and faith organizations. Josh Butler, the executive director of Housing Long Beach, says his group recently conducted a poll and found that 70 percent of those polled support rent control in the city.
“Long Beach has the largest population of renters on the West Coast without any basic protections, whether rent control or just-cause eviction,” he says. “We have to do something to help people during this housing crisis.”
Tenant advocates in the city have already filed paper work with local officials to place an initiative on the November 2018 ballot. Once they get approval to do so, they plan to start collecting signatures right away.
And still there’s more. Organizers in Inglewood, Glendale, and Pasadena have also announced their plans to push rent-control ballot initiatives this year. Meanwhile, in places like Sacramento, Santa Rosa, Santa Barbara, San Diego, and Concord, tenants are actively laying the groundwork for future rent-control campaigns. And additional tenant organizing is ramping up in dozens of other cities, from San Jose to Oakland to Los Angeles to Petaluma. The movement is everywhere.
Finally, progressive groups of all stripes are working to repeal California’s Costa-Hawkins Act, a law that prohibits rent control in buildings constructed after 1995, among other provisions. The powerful Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment as well as the AIDS Healthcare Foundation filed paperwork last October to put a repeal measure on the 2018 state ballot. At the same time, Tenants Together has been working to recruit politicians to back a repeal bill in the state legislature. If universal rent control is to be established in California, as organizers hope, then Costa-Hawkins has to go away.
Ultimately, however, these fights are about more than universal rent control. They are about the ownership structure of this country’s housing market.
“We have to build a base of tenants, a movement,” says Anthony Romano of Homes for All. “And no movement is going to be strong unless it is rooted in democratic, participatory tenant unions.”
If a horizontal and participatory movement truly emerges all across this country, tenant organizers believe the possibilities are boundless.
“We see the fight for rent control as a means to an end, not really an end in itself,” says Helen Matthews of City Life in Boston. “What we are trying to do is change the structure of ownership, not just the fees imposed on people. The more that we can prevent speculation in the housing market, then the easier it will be for us to help nonprofit and community organizations take property off the private market and put it in community hands.”
She sees a future where community land trusts and non-profits and limited equity co-ops own a city’s housing supply. It’s a future where the capitalist class no longer controls the living conditions of Socrates Guzman, Cynthia Berger, Araceli Barrera and millions of their fellow Americans.
The Denver Broncos’ chances of landing Kirk Cousins in free agency just increased by a boat load after reports indicate that Alex Smith will go to D.C.
Let the Kirk Cousins sweepstakes begin. Will the Denver Broncos be in the running for a big time free agent coming out of the Nation’s Capital? The next few weeks will get interesting.
The city that finally lands the deal for online retail giant Amazon’s second headquarters could already be a hot housing market according to an analysis released by property information, analytics, and data solutions provider CoreLogic.
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The digital signage is an effective way for marketing apartments. The digital signage is the sign of knowledge. It has got fame due to the strategy that is called professionalism. Professionalism is the vital tool that can enhance the level of the success. These cutting edge products are very important to boost up the sales of the corporates.
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