California Allows Discrimination Against Low-Income Renters

Rent-Screw-Sect-8

Many Californians Have Low Income

Many renters in California are individuals and families who are struggling to get by on low and very low income. These renters include folks who are elderly, disabled, women with children, veterans, and other low-income members of society.

Many of these renters wait years on a waiting list to receive vouchers that allow them to rent apartments and homes, and pay 30% to 40% of their income to the landlord, and HUD’s section 8 Voucher program pays the rest.

Property Owners Discriminate

Unfortunately, many property owners refuse to rent to people with Section 8 vouchers. Despite this being a clear case of class discrimination against the poor, California allows it. While it is illegal in California to discriminate against someone – in housing rental, based on one’s source of income – discriminating against people with section 8 is not included in that prohibition.

Bill to Make Discrimination Against Section 8 Illegal

California Bill SB 1053, the Voucher Nondiscrimination bill sponsored by Senator Mark Leno, would have made it illegal to discriminate against renters based on their source of income because they get Section 8 financial assistance. This bill was supported by Tenants Together, the Western Center on Law and Poverty, Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California, National Housing Law project, and Public Advocates. Unfortunately, the SB 1053 died in the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Property Owners Greed

The California Apartment Association (an association that clearly favors property owners gouging renters for profit) fought against SB 1053, and California legislators quickly buckled. They clearly put profit above the safety, health and welfare of human beings.

California Allows Class Discrimination

What this means is that California legislators are actually allowing discrimination against low income people because they receive Section 8 rental assistance.

In the current rental market environment, far too many people are actually paying up to 50% – and more – of their income just for housing. Property owners are gouging renters by taking advantage of the fact that there are far more people needing housing than there are housing units available. Because there are too many people and too few available housing units, property owners are raising rents far beyond what is reasonable. Because they can. And they are not only getting away with it: California is openly allowing it to happen.

“Screw Those Who Can’t Afford It”

What that means, literally, is that people are being forced out of places where they were born and raised (too many actually becoming homeless), because they can no longer afford the ridiculously high rents. What is even worse is that there are people who, with Section 8 help, can afford to rent homes – but are actually being forced into homelessness because property owners refuse to accept Section 8 vouchers. These property owners would rather raise rents as high as the market will bear in order to keep increasing their profits. Their attitudes are, “Screw those who can’t afford it.

What If It Was You?

If you are someone who feels unaffected by any of this … take a moment to imagine that an unexpected series of events rendered you unable to generate the level of income you currently enjoy, or cause you to lose your home, and you were left struggling to get by in an increasingly hostile environment. Believe me, it is NOT impossible. What if you were denied a place to live, just because someone didn’t like where you got your money from? What would you do? You have little money, no home, and even with help to pay for one, no one will allow you a home …

Every person with a conscience should find discrimination against people with Section 8 vouchers not just wrong, but disgusting, revolting, and unacceptable.

You Can’t Appeal to Their Compassion: They Have None

Greed drives them. Greed rules their actions. They really couldn’t care less about their tenants, and many of them don’t even care about keeping their buildings safe and in good repair (In the article below, one image shows that property management painted over mold growing in the wall). And if kicking old tenants out can get them more money from newer, more affluent tenants,  the old tenants are shit out of luck.

From the Sonoma County Press Democrat:

 SR-Evictions

Santa Rosa evictions trigger new fight over rights of tenants and landlords

A cluster of seven apartments off Todd Road has become the latest focal point in a legal — and increasingly political ­— battle over evictions in Sonoma County’s tight housing market.


Compare-IPOs-with-Renters

Investment Property Owners (IPOs) Have Renters “Over a Barrel”

Greedy Real Estate Investors: More money. Let’s manipulate the market so that making higher and higher profits is the only possible outcome. We have the power: we are investment property owners, and we have organizations lobbying to have cities and counties and the state legislate in our favor. The more money we make, the more power and influence we have over people on all levels. And if you don’t have enough money, we will boot your ass out. If you can’t make us richer, you’re an unworthy human being. Renters have some petty protections, but not really that many. We can take advantage of that. In California, on rental properties – as long as we give 60 days notice – we can charge any amount of rent we like! Better yet, we can boot old tenants, make cosmetic improvements (lipstick on a pig), hike the rent, and get more affluent renters.

They work through greedy real estate agents who are living it up at the expense of cash-strapped individual homeowners going through foreclosure. They make a killing on re-sales to investment property companies. It’s a win-win for IPOs and a “screw you” to the “little guys (i.e., renters).”

http://www.propertywire.com/news/features/us-foreclosure-property-misery-200904082843.html

In the Sonoma County Rental Market (as in many places around the nation), the abysmally low supply of rental units (averaging around 1%) creates an environment where rental property owners can jack up the rents endlessly, and renters have no choice but to pay – or go elsewhere.  For many, “go elsewhere” is not an option. Lesser income Seniors and disabled people have even less choice than most, and are disproportionately harmed by this hostile rental environment.

Government leaders need to either get significantly more rental units built to handle the demand and keep rents as reasonable as possible, or we need to institute rent control/rent stabilization laws. Renters (and individual property owners, too, since the greed is hurting them, as well)  need to stand up against these greedy real estate predators and stop them. Otherwise, more people are going to be displaced, homeless, financially ruined, or worse.

Yes, it’s THAT bad.

Can The Housing Crisis Be Fixed?

Fancy Homes for Owners paid for by Renters of Over-Priced Apartments
Fancy Homes for Owners paid for by Renters in Over-Priced Apartments

That’s a tough question, and one whose possible solutions are certain to anger people on all socioeconomic levels. But it’s a problem that really needs to be addressed; something really needs to be done about it. It’s a problem that is not going to go away, and from the looks of it, it’s just going to keep getting bigger and worse unless and until something significant is done toward remedying it. Something that really counts. Not just lip service, not sweeping  it under the rug like so many state, county and municipal governments seem most likely to want to do.

I’ve done research on the problem – both from the perspective of someone who wants to learn more about it to help everyone I can, and from the perspective of someone who himself is profoundly affected by the rampant greed being exercised by increasingly profit-driven and unscrupulous property owners, aided by statutes and policies favoring the wealthy. At this point, I don’t know much about what I, as a “poor person” can actually do, beyond writing about it and advocating for myself, and trying to help others learn how to advocate for themselves -but I’m frankly really tired of being pushed around by … people with money (specifically property owners) just because I don’t have money, myself.

affordable

I have a few pages with information that might be helpful for folks who might be facing problems with their landlords on this web site, located here: http://www.acomps.net/tenants.

I have another blog at WordPress.com here: http://www.vocaladvocate.wordpress.com that is what this blog is an offshoot of. (This blog is also being hosted on my own server, as well, so I have a little more creative control over it, and I may be less constricted by what I am able to discuss.

If anyone reading this blog has ideas or suggestions, I would really like to learn what you think. If you would like to “educate” me about things you know that I don’t, I’m all ears. But I really  want to DO something about it, even in whatever limited way I possibly can.

A Little Information About Me

I am a US military Veteran living on a low, fixed income from Social Security Disability Insurance. My disabilities are not service connected, I became disabled in 1985, two years after being Honorably discharged from the US Army after having completed two enlistments. I became disabled from injuries sustained when I was struck by an unsecured object that fell off another vehicle on the highway, which hit me, causing me to crash on my motorcycle when I was on my way home from work. Not even my fault. In 2006, I was injured again when I was hit by a car while crossing the street when I was walking my dog. Now I’m older, and age has exacerbated these disabilities even further.

I mention all of this only to illustrate that I am not “poor” by choice: I am economically disadvantaged and rendered effectively “unemployable” as a consequence of someone else’s failure to to be safety-conscious. And, being poor, skyrocketing rent is causing me – and so many others – to sink further and further into poverty, and I’m tried of being screwed by people who are concerned only about money, and not human life.

I want to open a dialogue about how to fight against socioeconomic abuse of some of the most vulnerable people in my community – and across California – by greed-driven wealthy property owners, and by out-of-touch government “leaders” who pass laws and policies that cater to these wealthy people at the expense of the poor – and even many of the middle class.