Long Beach, News

Residents expressed their concerns with current renters’ assistance programs and resources

Since the expiration of the Tenant Protections Resolution on March 31, tenants in Long Beach are left unprotected and fear for their stability and rights to their homes.

“We have already started seeing a wave of evictions hitting our community members so far and it’s only been about two weeks,” said Vann Buoy, a member of Long Beach Residents Empowered (LBRE).

Long Beach’s unhoused population spiked to 62% from 2020 to 2022 as the cost of rent continues to rise. With high inflation and the effects of the pandemic weighing in, residents of Long Beach ask the city for renters’ support.

“Tenant protections are necessary in order to keep our community healthy and housed,” said Diana Knolls, a resident of District 9. “These protections have been of the utmost importance during the pandemic while communities were struggling financially.”

The COVID-19 Tenant Protections Resolutions, which went into effect on March 4, 2020, extended certain protections to residential and commercial tenants affected by the pandemic.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the increase in rent, unemployment and other social and economic factors has increased homelessness dramatically.

In response, the City of Long Beach has instituted numerous housing structures, leased motels, ran isolation and quarantine locations, opened outreach centers and passed an eviction moratorium to battle the unhousing crisis.

“The biggest driver of rents next quarter is a vacancy in the previous quarter, so when vacancy is low, rents go up,” said Richard Green, director of the Lusk Center and co-author of the annual report in the LB Business Journal.

This process of low vacancies and increased rent prices has created an endless cycle However, for the city minimizing evictions was crucial in reducing the spread of COVID-19 by allowing all residents to stay in their homes.

“We are providing a higher level of service and funding in terms of homelessness than we ever have before,” said Christopher Koontz, director of development services.

Programs such as the Senior and Disabled Security Deposit Program, the LB CARES program, LA County Rent Relief, LB ERAP, and resource and information hotlines aim to provide financial, legal and health assistance for people struggling with rent.

According to the city renters’ relief assistance presentation provided at the meeting, a total of $83.6 million have been utilized throughout various programs to assist over 9,065 families.

“These protections have effectively reduced homelessness and have kept people in their homes when financial strains from the pandemic caused them to fall behind on rent payments,” said Myra Fernanda, an LBRE organizer. “Homelessness prevention must include tenant protection.”

The resolution applied to residential and commercial tenants, as well as mobile home renters, and provided protections such as “just cause evictions,” utility shutoffs, rent increase freeze and anti-harassment and retaliation protections.

The terms for the resolution vary from each person but, overall, the expiration of the resolution beginning April 1 means normal rent payments must resume avoiding evictions, evictions may resume as normal and rent increases may be issued.

“We’ve had people of every income level in our city,” said Mayor Rex Richardson. “Housing ages, people age, and if you don’t invest in preservation or production of affordable housing it creates broader social issues for your city.”

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