Councilmember José Huizar was joined today by key Boyle Heights community groups and volunteers to begin an extensive outreach effort to inform Boyle Heights’ rent-controlled residents of their rights. Boyle Heights has a high-rate of renters, approximately 75%, and of those, about 88% in approximately 16,000 units are protected against high-rent increases by the Rent Stabilization Ordinance (RSO), which provides rent-control for multi-unit rental housing in the City that was built in 1978 or earlier.
East LA Community Corporation (ELACC), InnerCity Struggle, Comite de la Esperanza, Union de Vecinos and Stevenson Middle School parents participated in Saturday’s door-to-door effort. The Know Your Rent-Control Rights Community Campaign will continue throughout the months ahead with other door-to-door campaigns, as well as mailers, community posters and flyer distributions at key community sites, such as schools, churches and community events. Other partners include LA Voice, Self Help Graphics, El Centro de Ayuda, Boyle Heights Neighbor Council, CASA 0101 and Proyecto Pastoral.
Huizar also announced today that the City’s foremost authorities on rent-control and other housing issues - the Housing & Community Investment Department (HCID) – will be moving into the Boyle Heights City Hall as a tenant in the coming months. As part of the Know Your Rights campaign, they will host forums in Boyle Heights.
“Today, the Boyle Heights community is coming together with a common goal – we want to make sure the majority of our Boyle Heights’ families whose residences are protected under rent-control law know that they have rights that protect them from unwarranted evictions,” said Councilmember Huizar. “In the days and months ahead, we will work with our community organizations, as well as the City’s Housing department, to expand this outreach so that every resident knows their rights and we can protect our affordable housing stock and the people who have called Boyle Heights home for many years.”
RSO property owners, or their building managers, cannot arbitrarily evict residents without cause in order to increase rents without facing fines or other penalties. The City is looking to shore up protections against abuse of the state-mandated Ellis Act, where property owners are allowed to take RSO units off the market. However, if for example, a property owner invokes the Ellis Act with the stated intent of rebuilding a property into market-rate condos, that property owner cannot turn around and cancel those plans and re-rent out previous RSO units as market-rate rentals within a five year period.
Councilmember Huizar has also introduced legislation to invoke penalties on property owners or landlords who attempt to harass or intimidate RSO renters in order to evict them without cause, or without following the specific guidelines of the City’s rent control laws. Huizar also introduced a resolution in City Council in support of state legislation, AB291, which would outlaw landlords from telling immigrant residents that they will notify ICE to deport residents as a means to force them to vacate units.
The next door-to-door campaign effort is scheduled, weather permitting, for Earth Day, April 22, 2017.