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LA County Supervisors Approve Rent Stabilization Policy for Unincorporated Areas
By Jorge Casuso
September 11, 2018 -- An measure authored by Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl to protect renters who could face homelessness due to escalating rents was approved by the County Board on Tuesday.
The policy stabilizes rents for an estimated 200,000 renters -- many of them elderly -- in unincorporated areas of LA County, which claim a total population of 1 million residents.
The policy sets a 3 percent annual cap on rents for six months with the base rent set as of Tuesday. The Board directed County agencies to draft an ordinance within 60 days.
“Many of our County families and seniors live month to month in fear of homelessness, knowing that their rents could rise significantly and quickly at any time,” said Kuehl, who lives in Santa Monica.
“If we want to stem the tide of people falling into homelessness and be sure our seniors, as well as other renters, are protected from eviction, we have to curb unrestricted growth in rents."
A recent UCLA report found that older adults are the group most at risk of being evicted for failing to make rent payments, with 22 percent "moderately burdened" and 58 percent "severely burdened."
The 2018 Homeless Count found a 22 percent increase in homelessness among adults 62 years or older in the past year.
“Building new units is one way to address the housing crisis, but we need a multi-pronged approach," said Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis, who co-sponsored the measure.
"Keeping residents in their homes is the best way to stem the tide of homelessness,” she said.
Kuehl cited research by Dr. Manuel Pastor, professor of Sociology and American Studies & Ethnicity at USC, that indicates that “limiting rent increases cannot fully solve the housing crisis confronting much of urban California.
But the study found that "rent regulations are one tool to deal with sharp upticks in rent and have less deleterious effects than is often imagined, particularly if we are talking about moderate rent stabilization measures.”
In July of last year, the Santa Monica City Council also tackled the issue of seniors facing eviction, although in a very different way ("Santa Monica Council Approves Experiment in 'Last Resort' Subsidies for Elderly Poor Renters," July 28, 2017).
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