Streamlining Affordable Housing Is Important, but So Is Protecting Renters

SAJE Files Suit against the City of LA for Approving a Hotel on the Bethune Site
March 6, 2023

Streamlining Affordable Housing Is Important, but So Is Protecting Renters

Los Angeles City Council members are considering a motion to codify Executive Directive 1 (Council File 23-0623), which aims to streamline affordable housing project applications. Making affordable housing easier to build is a good thing: the city desperately needs more affordable units, and we need to build those units faster. However, creating these new buildings often necessitates the demolition of existing rent-controlled housing. In such cases, we must be sure that the existing renters aren’t permanently displaced or, worse, lose their housing all together. That’s why we are calling for the following strategies to be included in any law that streamlines affordable housing production:

    • Preservation of the city’s existing stock of healthy affordable housing

    • Strong renter protections to prevent displacement and gentrification in working-class communities

    • The production of healthy affordable housing, at the deepest affordability levels, to stabilize the communities most at risk of displacement and gentrification

UNIDAD coalition member SAJE (Strategic Actions for a Just Economy) has heard from numerous families in South Los Angeles who will soon lose their rent-stabilized apartments so that a new affordable housing project can be built where they live. These families are often confused as to why they are being displaced, and they do not understand that they have a Right to Return to the new building. That’s why, as part of Executive Directive 1, the city must ensure transparency and accountability in the Right to Return process so that low-income renters understand they have the right to reserve a unit in the new development. The city should also demand developers provide accurate information about who lives in buildings slated for demolition and the eviction status of these residents. This information should be made publicly available so that relevant agencies and organizations can understand how many renters are affected by new development and how many have successfully exercised their Right to Return.

Unless we protect current renters, we risk undermining the efficacy of Executive Directive 1, which aims to ensure more Angelenos have access to healthy, affordable housing, not fewer. We urge City Council to consider the unintended consequences this directive will have on renters across the city and balance the need to build new affordable housing with the need to keep our most vulnerable residents and communities housed and intact.