Housing Justice Plan
Affordable Housing, Tenant Rights & Ending Homelessness
Housing is a human right, not a commodity that goes to those who can afford the price. We are experiencing unaffordable housing costs, increased evictions and gentrification, and an unprecedented rise in homelessness. It is high time our representatives in Sacramento intervene to solve the problem they helped create and supersede the influence of corporate interests in local politics. We need massive zoning reform and increased supportive housing to build a sustainable future, and we need an immediate rent freeze and comprehensive eviction protections during the COVID-19 pandemic. Fatima will aggressively attack the root causes of our homelessness crisis and push Sacramento to house all Californians now.
The Issues in District 64
LA has the least affordable housing market in the US. According to the California Center for Jobs and the Economy, our district is considered severely cost burdened. We have the 5th lowest household median income, and over 52% of us are spending more than 30% on housing costs.
Even among individuals who qualify for public housing, accessing subsidized housing is difficult. There is an estimated waitlist of over 10 years to get a Section 8 voucher in LA; accessing units owned by local housing authorities also have multi-year waits. Many affordable units are becoming more expensive, and developers are more often building luxury apartments than affordable ones. Some estimates suggest that LA is already short over 500,000 affordable units to meet existing demand. We currently simply do not have the stock of affordable housing that we need to meet demand.
This affordability crisis is contributing to increased gentrification in our communities. This is another form of systemic racism and structural violence. Gentrification is exacerbated by different factors. Often times, our communities will fight for certain improvements for decades - from cleaner air to increased public transit infrastructure - and these improvements will in turn increase housing costs and draw in wealthier crowds from other areas, forcing many community members to leave. It is important to address how affordability and gentrification impact both households and communities.
Want to learn more? Check out these resources:
LA Curbed's exploration of affordable housing units in LA
Many parts of District 64 face higher eviction rates than the rest of Los Angeles. Neighborhoods like Compton and Willowbrook experience 3-4 times the number of evictions as the LA average. These rates do not even account for informal evictions or households who leave their housing for fear of eviction. In California, over 1.5 million people have faced eviction proceedings in the past 3 years. There are many reasons someone might be evicted, including at-fault and no-fault evictions. At-fault evictions include when a tenant is unable to pay rent, whether because of rent increases or wage loss. No-fault evictions include when the eviction is not due to actions of the tenant but because of changes by the landlord.
Evictions have numerous negative impacts on individuals and households. Evictions negatively impact physical and mental health, including contributing to higher rates of depression and suicide. Many children experience disruption in their schooling which can contribute to lower school performances and less earning potential over the long-term. Evictions cause significant harm in our society.
There are over 58,000 people experiencing homelessness across LA County. This includes many children; the LA Unified School District identified over 15,000 students. While this is an issue that affects everyone, it doesn't impact everyone equally. Systemic racism plays a large role in our experiences of housing and homelessness. For example, while Black people only represent 9% of LA's overall population, they account for over 1/3 of the homeless population. It is clear that homelessness it not just an individual's issue, but a systemic one.
There are many reasons why someone might become homeless, including evictions, employment loss, emotional trauma, mental health, substance abuse, and more. Across the US, nearly 40% of people have less than $400 in savings. With exorbitant housing costs across LA and California, this means that many people are one paycheck away from homelessness.
Homelessness causes many traumas. For example, women experiencing homelessness are much more likely to experience gender-based violence. According to research by the Downtown's Women Center, 91% of unhoused women have experienced physical or sexual abuse; nearly 50% of unhoused women had experienced violence within the last month. Even for women who elected to stay in shelters, 35% of them experienced physical or sexual abuse in the past year, contributing to the reason why over 1/3 of the women they spoke to felt unsafe in shelters. In addition, many people experiencing homelessness face other challenges and traumas. It is critical that we critically analyze what policies contributed to this growth and inequity in homelessness.
Want to learn more? Check out these resources:
We need bold, comprehensive, and holistic policies to address our housing & homelessness crisis in LA and across California. Housing is a human right, and I am dedicated to championing policies that will ensure everyone has access to the housing they need and deserve.
We need to invest in increasing the affordable housing stock. Ultimately, in order to end homelessness and increase housing security, we need more affordable housing units. We need to get creative in how we can remove existing barriers to building housing, and we need to be firm in demanding the type of affordable developments that we know our community needs. Our most cost-burdened communities need to be able to know they can rent with stability.
Fatima will fight for:
• Repurposing publicly-owned land for public good, including housing.
• Supporting a public ballot initiative that repeals the ban on public (social) housing to reinstate housing options that are mixed-income, not-for-profit, and community controlled.
• Producing housing that is specifically and primarily affordable, not partially affordable.
• Encouraging community land trusts that make housing permanently affordable.
• Sourcing funding for housing from the properties of the wealthiest corporations and billionaires.
• Providing incentives for property-owners to take on ADUs meant to serve Section 8 vouchers, unhoused folks in need of transitional housing, or other cost-burdened low-income tenants, with support from organizations that help ease property-owners into those responsibilities.
We cannot build housing without being intentional and pursuing a community-led process, however: we must invest in communities without furthering gentrification and displacing individuals. We need to be intentional in our developments, firm with strengthening tenant protections and rent control, and actively invest in local communities. This cannot be done by politicians or developers alone: we need to actively and meaningfully collaborate with communities. The community must play a key role in deciding what this process looks like.
We know that we also must protect and enhance just housing laws. We should be actively addressing our history of redlining, gentrification, and discrimination in housing. Fatima will ensure that California’s laws shift to protect tenants over their landlords by:
• Introducing a repeal of the Costa Hawkins and the Ellis Act, putting an end to rampant real estate speculation that results in evictions.
• Championing a tenant’s right to counsel and protecting a tenant’s right to organize.
• Creating new routes for tenant co-ownership as an alternative to building owners seeking to go “out of business”.
• Pushing for rent registries so that officials can track rent pricing and hold landlords and property owners accountable for exploitation and unfair rent increases.
• Ensuring that as many folks as possible are released of the burden of backpay that they cannot afford due to unemployment from the COVID-19 pandemic.
• Enacting vacancy taxes to ensure that every current unit sells at prices that people in need of housing can afford.
Finally, we know we need to urgently invest resources in ending homelessness. Building housing alone is not enough. Now more than ever, unhoused persons need urgent action during the COVID-19 pandemic. Fatima will fight for an expansion of supports that are already underway, including acquiring hotels/motels and other available off-market units as housing. She will also advocate for the supports that Sacramento has been talking about for too long, but has done nothing about:
• Preventing the seizure of property during and outside of “sweeps,” including cars/RVs that are providing shelter.
• Ensuring the availability of basic sanitation services, including bathrooms and hand-washing stations.
• Differentiating supports based on experience with housing insecurity, such as accelerating stabilization services for temporarily unhoused folks who are working or attending school, or widening sheltering, service and work possibilities for folks in need of support to get back on their feet.
• Policies that reduce and eventually eliminate policing and particular profiling of Black people, who make up a disproportionate number of LA’s unhoused population.
Fatima will always look at policies related to homeless services and facilities through an equity lens so that no marginalized communities among the unhoused are left behind in gaining access to shelter, regardless of gender identity, having dependents like children or pets, historic experience with substance abuse and more.
Paid for by Fatima Iqbal-Zubair for Assembly 2020 FPPC ID# 1420710
5429 Madison Avenue Sacramento, CA 95841