Changing Administrative Processes
Affordable Housing Round Table: One of the first of such entities was in Santa Fe New Mexico and resulted in a exponential increase in the production of affordable housing units. This model allows advocates, housing developers and stake holders to participate decisions about affordable housing. This model works extremely well as long as those around the table have the power to make real decisions about the allocation of money. Public transparency of public resources is essential to assure that there is accountability to how these resources are used. To learn more about Affordable Housing Roundtables see: http://santafeaffordablehousingroundtable.blogspot.com/
Housing Partnerships: Today many cities, counties, regional and statewide housing partnership have formed with a similar goal to that of a Round Table, to create an environment for education, peer sharing of ideas to enhance performance, collaboration on projects and funding source and advocacy for funding and systemic changes to bring about more equitable use of land and resources to ensure all income levels are decently housed in close proximity to work. See: http://www.housingpartnership.net/
Housing Bill of Rights: There are many administrative tools that can be used or adjusted to create a better balance of affordable and market rate units. One tool that has helped to create the kind of thinking needed to create an environment for advocacy and discussion is the creation of a housing Bill of Rights. Here’s is a sample Renters’ Bill of Rights our affordable housing group in Pasadena has been developing:
Renters’/ Affordable Housing Bill of Rights
A hallmark of a healthy community, a vibrant, just economy, and an exemplary democracy is the unlimited opportunity for full participation by all members. Severely restricted housing options for middle and lower income families have an unacceptable impact on their exercise of all of their rights. Responsibility and accountability to the highest good of the community should be shared by all stakeholders including residents, corporate and business entities, government, and all public, private, and community institutions. Public resources should be used for those with the greatest need to preserve housing opportunities for all and prevent homelessness. Affordable housing is a fundamental human right, not a privilege.
Since the first National Housing Act of 1944, the United States Congress has set a goal that every person be housed in "decent, safe and sanitary housing". This moral commitment has been re-affirmed in every subsequent Housing Acts by Congress (1954, 1968, 1974, and 1978). Because "decent, safe and sanitary housing" is the right of every person.
United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which reads as follows:
“Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of employment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.”
The need for adequate, safe, secure, accessible and affordable housing in Pasadena is critical. 54.2% % of the housing units are rentals, yet renters are not represented equally with homeowners. A third of Pasadena is in need of affordable housing, yet only an estimated 7% of the city’s housing stock is affordable. Many tenants live in overcrowded and indecent housing. And too many are homeless. In 2011, 1,216 were tabulated in homeless count: 804 or three out of four (75%) were men and 274 or 25%
were women;138 children were counted representing 11% of the total number of persons counted)
Whereas, housing should be available and affordable to rent or buy to households at every income level and appropriate to need, family size and circumstance;
Whereas, everyone has a right to a secure tenure, and be protected against unjust evictions and displacement;
Whereas, housing should be healthy, safe, and habitable; free from hazards, toxics, contamination, harassment, and violence - both domestic and from outside the home;
Whereas, housing must be in reasonable distance to living wage jobs, resources, services, transportation, stores, schools, and parks; and should be economically, racially, and ethnically integrated, and culturally diverse;
Whereas, housing is long term an investment in the infrastructure of our community; housing is a tool for enhancing and building up the community and is not for unreasonable or speculative profit;
Whereas, everyone has a right to housing without discrimination and has the obligation to respect another's right to housing regardless of race, national or ethnic origin, age, sexual orientation, gender, mental or physical disability, the presence of children, citizenship status, medical condition, and employment status;
Therefore, be it resolved that housing be developed and maintained to be affordable and accessible for all, and connected to services to meet the needs of all residents in our diverse communities;
Therefore, be it also resolved that housing be developed and maintained to be healthy, safe, and environmentally and ecologically sustainable;
Therefore, be it further resolved that renters and homeowners be fully informed of their rights and responsibilities, both financial and communal, and be protected from predatory lending, undisclosed fees, displacement and other unfair practices and terms in order to keep them in their homes and to avoid foreclosure, bankruptcy, and evictions.
Expectations of the City of Pasadena:
As a renter, I should have a right to:
- Be treated in a manner equal to homeowners
- Be represented equally on city commissions, i.e., 55% of the appointments be renters.
- Have the City-controlled housing funds devoted to housing production and preservation consistent with Pasadena’s unmet Regional Housing Needs Assessments
- Maintain a “No Net Loss” guiding principle in the production of for sale condos
- Receive reasonable monetary relocation benefits
- For reference this is LA City's benefits: On April 11, 2007, in emergency session, the city council voted in new relocation assistance amounts, effective immediately: For eligible tenants, $6,810 if they have lived in the unit less than 3 years, $9,040 if they have lived in the unit more than 3 years, For qualified tenants: $,14,850 if they have lived in the unit less than 3 years, $17,080 if they have lived in the unit over 3 years.
- PAHG wants to discuss what relocation benefits would be sufficient for Pasadena based on the following criteria: disability, senior, Pasadena cost of living and single vs. family
- Redevelopment and other housing funds to be used for housing needs and not to be continually diverted into other areas.
- A priority given to low/moderate income people living and working in Pasadena of available affordable housing.
- Have affordable housing that is in close proximity to transportation corridors so as to minimize traffic and the need for as many parking spaces—a major increase in cost to housing. There is a trend to increase density only on Gold lines routes and to down zone on bus lines, yet the buses are used more than the Gold line. We call for up zoning where appropriate and no more down zoning in the city.
Expectations of the Landlord:
As a renter, I should have a right to:
- Receive information on the same basis as owners of properties
At this point, only owners within a certain radius receive information on proposed land use changes (e.g., application for liquor sales) mailed to them. Renters have to rely solely upon postings.
- Be able to petition decision makers on the same basis as property owners
Only owners and neighborhood associations (which typically do not represent the interests of renters) can petition to down/up zone.
- Be secure in my rental dwellings, except upon a showing of just cause for eviction, e.g., failure to pay rent *See LA City and West Hollywood provisions
- Receive no more than one rent increase on annual basis
- Receive 90 days notice before a no-fault eviction
- No net loss of affordable housing. Like the federal laws before the 1949 Housing Act, have one-for-one replacement any time affordable units are removed from a city’s housing stock.
- No downzoning of properties as long as the homeless count is above 100.
- Housing element municipal laws/creating accountability to the State
If you are aware of any actions that have been taken or laws that have been changed that move us closer to alleviating our National housing crisis, or if you know of any other resources or successful models that should be added to this website, please contact Jill Shook at (626) 797-4072
Adapted from http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/2412/t/3064/petition.jsp?petition_KEY=728, East Bay Housing Organization