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    Legislator Proposes California Law to Protect Renters from Becoming Homeless

    By Linh Tat

    Sen. Durazo’s SB 567 would boost safeguards for renters under the Tenant Protection Act of 2019

    Hoping to build on California’s Tenant Protection Act of 2019, a state lawmaker from Los Angeles is working on a bill to prevent even more tenants from falling into homelessness in a state that continues to rank first in the number of unhoused people.

    Sen. María Elena Durazo (D-Los Angeles) on Friday, March 10, kicked off a campaign to promote Senate Bill 567, also known as the Homelessness Prevention Act, which aims to further protect tenants from unjust evictions and excessive rent hikes.

    Inflation, combined with the end of COVID-19 pandemic-related eviction protections, have put many renters at risk of not being able to pay their rent and losing their homes, backers of SB 567 say.

    “This is an urgent humanitarian crisis,” Durazo said during a news conference at the Aliso-Pico Recreation Center in Boyle Heights. “As we drive around Los Angeles, we see tents under the freeways, on the sidewalks and the storefronts. It’s become part of the city.”

    Details of Durazo’s proposed legislation are being finalized, so a text of the bill is not yet available.

    But in an interview after the news conference, the senator said she wants to further lower the cap that landlords can raise rent by, though what that number will be is still being ironed out. Under the existing Tenant Protection Act, rent hikes are capped at either 5% plus the local inflation rate, or 10%, whichever amount is lower.

    “We’re open to something that’s reasonable, but clearly 10%, in this day and age with inflation, is far too much, and it’s a principal reason why people can’t pay and they end up on the streets,” Durazo said. “Even with the jobs that they have, they cannot afford to pay these kinds of 10% increases every year.”

    She also wants to extend protections to tenants who are renting mobile homes or single-family homes.

    In Los Angeles, the city council recently adopted additional tenant protections, including for the renters of single-family homes.

    Supporters of SB 567 cite a 2020 study by the U.S. Government Accountability Office which found that a median rent increase of $100 resulted in a 9% increase in homelessness nationwide.

    California is home to more than 160,000 unhoused residents.

    “This is immoral – the idea that in the richest subnational economy in the world, that we have over 160,000 people sleeping every day on the street,” said Christina Livingston, executive director of the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment.

    Proponents of Durazo’s bill say SB 567 would close loopholes to prevent no-fault evictions, expand the pool of renters with tenant protections, limit annual rent increases, and allow for accountability and enforcement.

    Joseph Tomás McKellar, executive director of PICO California, a sponsor of the bill, said one family is evicted every minute in California. In L.A. County, one person is evicted every nine minutes, he said, adding that most of them are people of color and immigrants.

    Click here to read the full article in the OC Register


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