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Westlake Legal Group > Homeless Persons

San Francisco to Get Environmental Violation for Homelessness, Trump Says

Westlake Legal Group merlin_134644278_57735339-3e6c-4e4c-8cb8-b4bc788e6e7f-facebookJumbo San Francisco to Get Environmental Violation for Homelessness, Trump Says United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J San Francisco (Calif) Newsom, Gavin Los Angeles (Calif) Homeless Persons environment Carson, Benjamin S California

WASHINGTON — President Trump said late Wednesday that his administration would issue a notice of environmental violation against the city of San Francisco because of what he described as its homelessness problem.

Traveling aboard Air Force One as he returned to Washington from a three-day trip to California and New Mexico, Mr. Trump told reporters that San Francisco was in “total violation” of environmental rules because of used needles that were ending up in the ocean.

“They’re in total violation — we’re going to be giving them a notice very soon,” the president said, indicating that the city could be put on notice by the Environmental Protection Agency within a week that its homelessness problem was causing environmental damage.

He said tremendous pollution was flowing into the ocean because of waste in storm sewers, and he specifically cited used needles.

“They’re in serious violation,” Mr. Trump said, adding, “They have to clean it up. We can’t have our cities going to hell.”

San Francisco’s mayor, London Breed, called Mr. Trump’s comments “ridiculous.”

“To be clear, San Francisco has a combined sewer system, one of the best and most effective in the country, that ensures that all debris that flow into storm drains are filtered out at the city’s wastewater treatment plants,” Ms. Breed said in a statement Wednesday night. “No debris flow out into the bay or the ocean.”

She also said that the city would be adding 1,000 shelter beds by next year, and is seeking to pass a $600 million bond to build more affordable housing and increase services for people with mental illnesses and drug addictions.

“In San Francisco,” Ms. Breed said, “we are focused on advancing solutions to meet the challenges on our streets, not throwing off ridiculous assertions as we board an airplane to leave the state.”

The threat from the president was the second time in two days that Mr. Trump has clashed with politicians in California. On Tuesday, the administration said it would revoke the state’s ability to set tougher auto emissions standards, drawing a fierce rebuke from Gavin Newsom, the state’s Democratic governor.

The president has indicated for weeks that he is angry and frustrated by what he sees as an out-of-control homeless problem in San Francisco and Los Angeles — two heavily Democratic cities run by politicians who have been regularly critical of Mr. Trump.

On Twitter in July, the president lashed out at Speaker Nancy Pelosi, whose district includes San Francisco, saying that the city was “not even recognizeable lately.”

“Something must be done before it is too late,” he added. “The Dems should stop wasting time on the Witch Hunt Hoax and start focusing on our Country!”

During an interview in July with Tucker Carlson of Fox News, Mr. Trump lamented the state of American cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York, suggesting that homelessness and drug use was so bad that it was a public health hazard.

“You can’t have what’s happening — where police officers are getting sick just by walking the beat,” Mr. Trump told Mr. Carlson. “I mean, they’re getting actually very sick, where people are getting sick, where the people living there living in hell, too.”

He added that when world leaders come to an American city, they should not see homeless people. “They’re riding down a highway, they can’t be looking at that,” he said. “I really believe that it hurts our country.”

Before the president’s trip this week to California, the administration signaled that the federal government would be looking for ways to address homelessness. A report in The Washington Post said several agencies had been ordered to find ways to confront the problem.

But there had been no indication before Wednesday night that the Trump administration intended to use environmental laws to do so.

It was also unclear what specific laws or regulations the E.P.A. would cite, or what actions the agency would demand from the city’s leaders in order to avoid the citation.

Tens of thousands of hypodermic needles are collected every month from the streets of San Francisco.

City officials have a longstanding program of distributing clean needles in an effort to reduce infectious diseases like H.I.V.

But the police have reported a sharp increase in heroin use on the streets; in August 2018 alone, the city’s Public Health Department, which has a needle recovery program, retrieved 164,264 needles, both through a disposal program and through street cleanups.

As the number of unsheltered people has increased, the amount of feces collected and cleaned up has also swelled. Last year, the city established a designated feces cleanup crew. The city has also increased the availability of mobile toilets.

Even before the president’s remarks aboard Air Force One, Democratic officials in California had been in the awkward position of agreeing with Mr. Trump about the need for a solution to homelessness — though they remained suspicious of the president’s real motivations.

“Donald Trump is a slumlord who has spent his presidency pushing people into homelessness by taking away health care, food assistance and affordable housing funds,” Scott Wiener, a Democratic state senator from San Francisco, said on Tuesday as the president arrived in the state for a series of fund-raisers and a trip to the border. “He has no credibility on housing and homelessness.”

In fact, Mr. Trump has repeatedly indicated that his frustration with homeless people in some of the country’s major cities has more to do with making sure that others do not have to see them and less to do with concern about the homeless.

“In many cases, they came from other countries and they moved to Los Angeles or they moved to San Francisco because of the prestige of the city, and all of a sudden they have tents,” Mr. Trump said before attending one of his fund-raisers in Silicon Valley. “Hundreds and hundreds of tents and people living at the entrance to their office building. And they want to leave.”

Ben Carson, the secretary of housing and urban development, joined Mr. Trump on his trip out West and toured a new public housing development in San Francisco. But Mr. Trump’s comments on Wednesday indicated that he was not satisfied with addressing homelessness the usual way.

Homelessness in the San Francisco Bay Area has surged in recent years. The city of San Francisco has 8,011 homeless people, according to a count conducted this year, a 17 percent increase over 2017, the last time a count was conducted. Other nearby cities have had even larger increases, including San Jose (up 42 percent from two years ago) and Oakland (up 47 percent).

In Los Angeles County, an estimated 59,000 people are homeless, about 75 percent of whom are unsheltered, according to a point-in-time count released this year.

One major difference with the East Coast is that a large proportion of homeless in California are unsheltered — nearly 70 percent of the homeless, or about 90,000 people, live on the street.

California, the nation’s most populous state, also has the highest number of homeless in the country, according to 2018 federal data.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Trump and California See Same Homeless Problem, but Not the Same Solutions

SAN FRANCISCO — Open-air heroin use. Sidewalks smeared in human feces. Blocklong homeless camps and people with severe mental illnesses wading through traffic in socks and hospital clothes.

You would be forgiven if you thought that those descriptions of California’s urban ills came from the mouth of the state’s biggest detractor, President Trump. After all, as the president jetted off to the Bay Area on Tuesday for a fund-raiser, he took a moment with reporters on Air Force One to fulminate against “people living in our best highways, our best streets, our best entrances to buildings.”

But no, the worst descriptions of homelessness here frequently come from San Francisco’s archliberal politicians, who found themselves this week uncomfortably in agreement with the president they loathe. Mr. Trump’s sudden fixation with California’s homelessness problem is the rarest of cases where the state’s left wing actually recognizes a problem that the president feels strongly about.

Numerous protesters and politicians said they found Mr. Trump’s sudden interest in homelessness to be disingenuous and an example of the administration trying to score political points at the state’s expense instead of actually grappling with a humanitarian crisis that has become the driving political issue in state and local politics. The Department of Housing and Urban Development is, after all, putting into effect new regulations that could turn thousands of legal residents and citizens, including 55,000 children, out of public housing.

Still, the shared diagnosis of California’s housing problem left many policymakers here in the deeply uncomfortable position of conceding that the Trump administration has made some fair points.

That does not, however, mean they have any intention to cooperate with the administration on a solution, given the cauldron of mistrust and mutual distaste that exists between the president and large sections of California. For all of his talk of homelessness, Mr. Trump indicated to reporters that his sympathies rested with the taxpayers, rich immigrants and business leaders forced to wade through California’s urban detritus.

“In many cases, they came from other countries and they moved to Los Angeles or they moved to San Francisco because of the prestige of the city, and all of a sudden they have tents,” Mr. Trump exclaimed to reporters before disappearing behind the cloistered mansions of Silicon Valley. “Hundreds and hundreds of tents and people living at the entrance to their office building. And they want to leave.”

That did not endear the president to politicians already indisposed toward his overtures.

“Donald Trump is a slumlord who has spent his presidency pushing people into homelessness by taking away health care, food assistance and affordable housing funds,” said Scott Wiener, a Democratic state senator from San Francisco. “He has no credibility on housing and homelessness.”

Few people like to acknowledge it, but there are things the Trump administration and California policymakers basically agree on. On Monday, the president’s Council of Economic Advisers released a 40-page report on homelessness that was full of grisly and true statistics, such as California being home to one-twelfth of the country’s people but about half of the nation’s unsheltered homeless. The report also blamed many of California’s own policies, like its strict building and environmental regulations, for creating it. That is a fact that the state’s legislative analyst’s office and politicians from Gov. Gavin Newsom on down routinely affirm.

On Tuesday morning, Ben Carson, the housing secretary, toured a three-story building with bleached-wood exterior that looked like the boxy condominiums built for young techies but was, in fact, a new public housing development across the street from the old barracks-style projects it replaced.

ImageWestlake Legal Group 17dc-trumpcalif3-articleLarge Trump and California See Same Homeless Problem, but Not the Same Solutions Wiener, Scott (1970- ) United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Real Estate and Housing (Residential) Newsom, Gavin Homeless Persons Demonstrations, Protests and Riots Carson, Benjamin S Affordable Housing

An encampment in July in San Francisco. California is home to one-twelfth of the country’s people but about half of the nation’s unsheltered homeless.CreditJim Wilson/The New York Times

Mr. Carson noted to reporters that the run-down public housing towers of old had given government housing a bad reputation, that people should not stigmatize public housing, that landlords should not discriminate against Section 8 voucher holders and that rampant not-in-my-backyard — or NIMBY — sentiment has impeded affordable housing and higher-density apartment construction near transit.

“We do want to create societies where policemen and firemen and nurses can work and then live in the same community,” he said. “But one of the big problems, and nobody wants to talk about it, is NIMBYism. Not in my backyard. O.K. to do it over here, but don’t come anywhere near me.”

Those are roughly the same talking points that California Democrats have been using for years. Last year, Mr. Wiener introduced a bill that would essentially seize zoning control from localities and make it harder to stop higher-density projects near rail stations. California cities and the State Legislature have passed laws banning Section 8 discrimination. Mr. Newsom campaigned on a plan to build 3.5 million homes by 2025, but has acknowledged this is a far-off goal that has zero chance of happening without major regulatory reforms.

Yet as Mr. Carson spoke, protesters chanted, “Trump and Carson, it’s no lie, you’re the reason we sleep outside,” while a woman dressed as Super Girl lamented the presence of a Trump administration official in her city.

Some of this is pure partisanship. California has become a useful foil to Mr. Trump, and any sign of agreement with him could be seen as a political liability. The state’s attorney general, Xavier Becerra, has filed 59 lawsuits against the Trump administration, on issues like immigration, health care and environment policy. Its Legislature has tried to counter the president on environmental regulations, climate change and labor policy, and its governor is a determined member of the “resistance.”

For its part, the administration appears to delight in confronting California. On Wednesday, the Trump administration is expected to formally revoke California’s legal authority to set tailpipe pollution rules that are stricter than federal rules, dealing a serious blow to the “green economy” that the state was trying to foster with or without Washington.

In that light, local leaders have some real and reasonable doubts about how serious the president is about trying to solve homelessness.

And Mr. Trump’s own comments on homelessness did not offer much in the way of reassurance because he seemed less focused on the homeless than their apparent victims, like California’s police officers — “They’re actually sick; they’re going to the hospital” — and property owners: “We can’t let Los Angeles, San Francisco and numerous other cities destroy themselves.”

To be sure, the main mission for Mr. Trump’s two days in Northern and Southern California was the $15 million he expected to raise at private events behind gates in enclaves like Portola Valley and Beverly Hills.

The homeless were not holding that against him.

“He’s not my favorite,” said Alan Catoe, a homeless man asking drivers for money at an intersection on the edge of Palo Alto, a 20-minute drive from the luncheon for the president at the mansion of Scott McNealy, a Silicon Valley titan. “But I don’t mind that he’s here. There’s a lot of rich people who want to give him money.”

As the president’s limousine sped toward Tuesday’s fund-raiser near Stanford, several hundred protesters chanted, “Shame! Shame!”

“When during his whole presidency has he brought up ways to solve homelessness?” asked Toni Norton, a retired sale executive on hand for the protest. “He’s just coming here for the money.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Trump and California See Same Homeless Problem, but Not the Same Solutions

Westlake Legal Group 17dc-trumpcalif-facebookJumbo Trump and California See Same Homeless Problem, but Not the Same Solutions Wiener, Scott (1970- ) United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Real Estate and Housing (Residential) Newsom, Gavin Homeless Persons Demonstrations, Protests and Riots Carson, Benjamin S Affordable Housing

SAN FRANCISCO — Open-air heroin use. Sidewalks smeared in human feces. Blocklong homeless camps and people with severe mental illnesses wading through traffic in socks and hospital clothes.

You would be forgiven if you thought that those descriptions of California’s urban ills came from the mouth of the state’s biggest detractor, President Trump. After all, as the president jetted off to the Bay Area on Tuesday for a fund-raiser, he took a moment with reporters on Air Force One to fulminate against “people living in our best highways, our best streets, our best entrances to buildings.”

But no, the worst descriptions of homelessness here frequently come from San Francisco’s archliberal politicians, who found themselves this week uncomfortably in agreement with the president they loathe. Mr. Trump’s sudden fixation with California’s homelessness problem is the rarest of cases where the state’s left wing actually recognizes a problem that the president feels strongly about.

Numerous protesters and politicians said they found Mr. Trump’s sudden interest in homelessness to be disingenuous and an example of the administration trying to score political points at the state’s expense instead of actually grappling with a humanitarian crisis that has become the driving political issue in state and local politics. The Department of Housing and Urban Development is, after all, putting into effect new regulations that could turn thousands of legal residents and citizens, including 55,000 children, out of public housing.

Still, the shared diagnosis of California’s housing problem left many policymakers here in the deeply uncomfortable position of conceding that the Trump administration has made some fair points.

That does not, however, mean they have any intention to cooperate with the administration on a solution, given the cauldron of mistrust and mutual distaste that exists between the president and large sections of California. For all of his talk of homelessness, Mr. Trump indicated to reporters that his sympathies rested with the taxpayers, rich immigrants and business leaders forced to wade through California’s urban detritus.

“In many cases, they came from other countries and they moved to Los Angeles or they moved to San Francisco because of the prestige of the city, and all of a sudden they have tents,” Mr. Trump exclaimed to reporters before disappearing behind the cloistered mansions of Silicon Valley. “Hundreds and hundreds of tents and people living at the entrance to their office building. And they want to leave.”

That did not endear the president to politicians already indisposed toward his overtures.

“Donald Trump is a slumlord who has spent his presidency pushing people into homelessness by taking away health care, food assistance and affordable housing funds,” said Scott Wiener, a Democratic state senator from San Francisco. “He has no credibility on housing and homelessness.”

Few people like to acknowledge it, but there are things the Trump administration and California policymakers basically agree on. On Monday, the president’s Council of Economic Advisers released a 40-page report on homelessness that was full of grisly and true statistics, such as California being home to one-twelfth of the country’s people but about half of the nation’s unsheltered homeless. The report also blamed many of California’s own policies, like its strict building and environmental regulations, for creating it. That is a fact that the state’s legislative analyst’s office and politicians from Gov. Gavin Newsom on down routinely affirm.

On Tuesday morning, Ben Carson, the housing secretary, toured a three-story building with bleached-wood exterior that looked like the boxy condominiums built for young techies but was, in fact, a new public housing development across the street from the old barracks-style projects it replaced.

Mr. Carson noted to reporters that the run-down public housing towers of old had given government housing a bad reputation, that people should not stigmatize public housing, that landlords should not discriminate against Section 8 voucher holders and that rampant not-in-my-backyard — or NIMBY — sentiment has impeded affordable housing and higher-density apartment construction near transit.

“We do want to create societies where policemen and firemen and nurses can work and then live in the same community,” he said. “But one of the big problems, and nobody wants to talk about it, is NIMBYism. Not in my backyard. O.K. to do it over here, but don’t come anywhere near me.”

Those are roughly the same talking points that California Democrats have been using for years. Last year, Mr. Wiener introduced a bill that would essentially seize zoning control from localities and make it harder to stop higher-density projects near rail stations. California cities and the State Legislature have passed laws banning Section 8 discrimination. Mr. Newsom campaigned on a plan to build 3.5 million homes by 2025, but has acknowledged this is a far-off goal that has zero chance of happening without major regulatory reforms.

Yet as Mr. Carson spoke, protesters chanted, “Trump and Carson, it’s no lie, you’re the reason we sleep outside,” while a woman dressed as Super Girl lamented the presence of a Trump administration official in her city.

Some of this is pure partisanship. California has become a useful foil to Mr. Trump, and any sign of agreement with him could be seen as a political liability. The state’s attorney general, Xavier Becerra, has filed 59 lawsuits against the Trump administration, on issues like immigration, health care and environment policy. Its Legislature has tried to counter the president on environmental regulations, climate change and labor policy, and its governor is a determined member of the “resistance.”

For its part, the administration appears to delight in confronting California. On Wednesday, the Trump administration is expected to formally revoke California’s legal authority to set tailpipe pollution rules that are stricter than federal rules, dealing a serious blow to the “green economy” that the state was trying to foster with or without Washington.

In that light, local leaders have some real and reasonable doubts about how serious the president is about trying to solve homelessness.

And Mr. Trump’s own comments on homelessness did not offer much in the way of reassurance because he seemed less focused on the homeless than their apparent victims, like California’s police officers — “They’re actually sick; they’re going to the hospital” — and property owners: “We can’t let Los Angeles, San Francisco and numerous other cities destroy themselves.”

To be sure, the main mission for Mr. Trump’s two days in Northern and Southern California was the $15 million he expected to raise at private events behind gates in enclaves like Portola Valley and Beverly Hills.

The homeless were not holding that against him.

“He’s not my favorite,” said Alan Catoe, a homeless man asking drivers for money at an intersection on the edge of Palo Alto, a 20-minute drive from the luncheon for the president at the mansion of Scott McNealy, a Silicon Valley titan. “But I don’t mind that he’s here. There’s a lot of rich people who want to give him money.”

As the president’s limousine sped toward Tuesday’s fund-raiser near Stanford, several hundred protesters chanted, “Shame! Shame!”

“When during his whole presidency has he brought up ways to solve homelessness?” asked Toni Norton, a retired sale executive on hand for the protest. “He’s just coming here for the money.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

California Approves Statewide Rent Control to Ease Housing Crisis

California lawmakers approved a statewide rent cap on Wednesday covering millions of tenants, the biggest step yet in a surge of initiatives to address an affordable-housing crunch nationwide.

The bill limits annual rent increases to 5 percent after inflation and offers new barriers to eviction, providing a bit of housing security in a state with the nation’s highest housing prices and a swelling homeless population.

Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat who has made tenant protection a priority in his first year in office, led negotiations to strengthen the legislation. He has said he would sign the bill, approved as part of a flurry of activity in the final week of the legislative session.

The measure, affecting an estimated eight million residents of rental homes and apartments, was heavily pushed by tenants’ groups. In an indication of how dire housing problems have become, it also garnered the support of the California Business Roundtable, representing leading employers, and was unopposed by the state’s biggest landlords’ group.

That dynamic reflected a momentous political swing. For a quarter-century, California law has sharply curbed the ability of localities to impose rent control. Now, the state itself has taken that step.

“The housing crisis is reaching every corner of America, where you’re seeing high home prices, high rents, evictions and homelessness that we’re all struggling to grapple with,” said Assemblyman David Chiu, a San Francisco Democrat who was the bill’s author. “Protecting tenants is a critical and obvious component of any strategy to address this.”

A greater share of households nationwide are renting than at any point in a half-century. But only four states — California, Maryland, New Jersey and New York — have localities with some type of rent control, along with the District of Columbia. A coalition of tenants’ organizations, propelled by rising housing costs and fears of displacement, is trying to change that.

In February, Oregon lawmakers became the first to pass statewide rent control, limiting increases to 7 percent annually plus inflation. New York, with Democrats newly in control of the State Legislature, strengthened rent regulations governing almost one million apartments in New York City.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_160578480_4e66f72d-f9f7-4bf5-9f06-a8705d4ce907-articleLarge California Approves Statewide Rent Control to Ease Housing Crisis State Legislatures Renting and Leasing (Real Estate) Rent Control and Stabilization Regulation and Deregulation of Industry Real Estate and Housing (Residential) Politics and Government Newsom, Gavin Law and Legislation Landlords Homeless Persons gentrification California Affordable Housing

Assemblyman David Chiu, a San Francisco Democrat, was the bill’s author. “The housing crisis is reaching every corner of America,” he said.CreditRich Pedroncelli/Associated Press

Measures were recently introduced in Massachusetts and Florida to allow rent regulation in cities with a housing crunch — like Boston, Miami and Orlando.

Nationally, about a quarter of tenants pay more than half their income in rent, according to the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University. And California’s challenges are particularly acute. After an adjustment for housing costs, it has the highest state poverty rate, 18.2 percent, about five percentage points above the national average, according to a Census Bureau report published Tuesday.

Homelessness has come to dominate the state’s political conversation and prompted voters to approve several multibillion-dollar programs to build shelters and subsidized housing with services for people coming off the streets.

Despite those efforts, San Francisco’s homeless population has grown by 17 percent since 2017, while the count in Los Angeles has increased by 16 percent since 2018. Over all, the state accounts for about half of the country’s unsheltered homeless population of roughly 200,000.

That bleak picture — combined with three-hour commutes, cries for teacher housing and the sight of police officers sleeping in cars — is prompting legislators and organizers to propose ever more far-reaching steps.

State Senator Scott Wiener, a San Francisco Democrat, offered a bill that would essentially override local zoning to allow multiple-unit housing around transit stops and in suburbs where single-family homes are considered sacrosanct. The bill was shelved in its final committee hearing this year, but Mr. Wiener has vowed to keep pushing the idea.

Economists from both the left and the right have a well-established aversion to rent control, arguing that such policies ignore the message of rising prices, which is to build more housing. Studies in San Francisco and elsewhere show that price caps often prompt landlords to abandon the rental business by converting their units to owner-occupied homes. And since rent controls typically have no income threshold, they have been faulted for benefiting high-income tenants.

“Rent control is definitely having a moment across the country,” said Jim Lapides, a vice president at the National Multifamily Housing Council, which opposes such restrictions. “But we’re seeing folks turn to really shortsighted policy that will end up making the very problem worse.”

But many of the same studies show that rent-control policies have been effective at shielding tenants from evictions and sudden rent increases, particularly the lower-income and older tenants who are at a high risk of becoming homeless. Also, many of the newer policies — which supporters prefer to call rent caps — are considerably less stringent than those in effect in places like New York and San Francisco for decades.

“Caps on rent increases, like the one proposed in California or the one recently passed in Oregon, are part of a new generation of rent-regulation policies that are trying to thread the needle by offering some form of protection against egregious rent hikes for vulnerable renters without stymieing much-needed new housing construction,” said Elizabeth Kneebone, research director at the Terner Center for Housing Innovation at the University of California.

Supporters of rent control marched in Sacramento last year. After adjusting for housing costs, California has the highest state poverty rate.CreditRich Pedroncelli/Associated Press

Mr. Chiu’s bill is technically an anti-gouging provision, with a 10-year limit, modeled on the typically short-term price caps instituted after disasters like floods and fires. It exempts dwellings less than 15 years old, to avoid discouraging construction, as well as most single-family homes. But it covers tenants of corporations like Invitation Homes, which built nationwide rental portfolios encompassing tens of thousands of properties that had been lost to foreclosure after the housing bust a decade ago.

According to the online real-estate marketplace Zillow, only about 7 percent of the California properties listed last year saw rent increases larger than allowed under the bill. But there could be a big effect in rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods like Boyle Heights in Los Angeles, where typical rents on apartments not covered by the city’s rent regulations have jumped more than 40 percent since 2016.

By limiting the steepest and most abrupt rent increases, the bill is also likely to reduce the incentive for hedge funds and other investors to buy buildings where they see a prospective payoff in replacing working-class occupants with tenants paying higher rents.

Sandra Zamora, a 27-year-old preschool teacher, lives in a one-bedroom apartment in Menlo Park, Calif., a short drive from Facebook’s expanding headquarters. A year ago, Ms. Zamora’s building got a new owner, and the rent jumped to $1,900 from $1,100, a rise of over 70 percent. Most of her neighbors left. Ms. Zamora stayed, adding a roommate to the 600-square-foot space and taking a weekend job as a barista.

“Having an $800 increase at once was really shocking,” she said. “It just keeps me thinking every month: ‘O.K., when is it going to happen? How much am I going to get increased the next month?’ It’s just a constant worry.”

Even as more states begin to experiment with rent control, it has long existed in places like New York City, which intervened to address a housing shortage post-World War II, and San Francisco, where it was adopted in 1979.

Today it is common in many towns across New Jersey and in several cities in California, including Berkeley and Oakland, although the form differs by jurisdiction. Regulated apartments in New York City are mostly subject to rent caps even after a change in tenants, for example, while rent control in the Bay Area has no such provision.

In New York City, where almost half of the rental stock is regulated, a board determines the maximum rent increases each year; this year it approved a 1.5 percent cap on one-year leases, considerably lower than the limits passed in Oregon and California.

Cea Weaver, campaign coordinator of Housing Justice for All, a coalition of New York tenants that pushed for new rent laws, welcomed the outcome in California.

“Any victory helps to build a groundswell,” she said. “There is a younger generation of people who see themselves as permanent renters, and they’re demanding that our public policy catches up to that economic reality.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

California Approves Statewide Rent Control to Ease Housing Crisis

California lawmakers approved a statewide rent cap on Wednesday covering millions of tenants, the biggest step yet in a surge of initiatives to address an affordable-housing crunch nationwide.

The bill limits annual rent increases to 5 percent after inflation and offers new barriers to eviction, providing a bit of housing security in a state with the nation’s highest housing prices and a swelling homeless population.

Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat who has made tenant protection a priority in his first year in office, led negotiations to strengthen the legislation. He has said he would sign the bill, approved as part of a flurry of activity in the final week of the legislative session.

The measure, affecting an estimated eight million residents of rental homes and apartments, was heavily pushed by tenants’ groups. In an indication of how dire housing problems have become, it also garnered the support of the California Business Roundtable, representing leading employers, and was unopposed by the state’s biggest landlords’ group.

That dynamic reflected a momentous political swing. For a quarter-century, California law has sharply curbed the ability of localities to impose rent control. Now, the state itself has taken that step.

“The housing crisis is reaching every corner of America, where you’re seeing high home prices, high rents, evictions and homelessness that we’re all struggling to grapple with,” said Assemblyman David Chiu, a San Francisco Democrat who was the bill’s author. “Protecting tenants is a critical and obvious component of any strategy to address this.”

A greater share of households nationwide are renting than at any point in a half-century. But only four states — California, Maryland, New Jersey and New York — have localities with some type of rent control, along with the District of Columbia. A coalition of tenants’ organizations, propelled by rising housing costs and fears of displacement, is trying to change that.

In February, Oregon lawmakers became the first to pass statewide rent control, limiting increases to 7 percent annually plus inflation. New York, with Democrats newly in control of the State Legislature, strengthened rent regulations governing almost one million apartments in New York City.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_160578480_4e66f72d-f9f7-4bf5-9f06-a8705d4ce907-articleLarge California Approves Statewide Rent Control to Ease Housing Crisis State Legislatures Renting and Leasing (Real Estate) Rent Control and Stabilization Regulation and Deregulation of Industry Real Estate and Housing (Residential) Politics and Government Newsom, Gavin Law and Legislation Landlords Homeless Persons gentrification California Affordable Housing

Assemblyman David Chiu, a San Francisco Democrat, was the bill’s author. “The housing crisis is reaching every corner of America,” he said.CreditRich Pedroncelli/Associated Press

Measures were recently introduced in Massachusetts and Florida to allow rent regulation in cities with a housing crunch — like Boston, Miami and Orlando.

Nationally, about a quarter of tenants pay more than half their income in rent, according to the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University. And California’s challenges are particularly acute. After an adjustment for housing costs, it has the highest state poverty rate, 18.2 percent, about five percentage points above the national average, according to a Census Bureau report published Tuesday.

Homelessness has come to dominate the state’s political conversation and prompted voters to approve several multibillion-dollar programs to build shelters and subsidized housing with services for people coming off the streets.

Despite those efforts, San Francisco’s homeless population has grown by 17 percent since 2017, while the count in Los Angeles has increased by 16 percent since 2018. Over all, the state accounts for about half of the country’s unsheltered homeless population of roughly 200,000.

That bleak picture — combined with three-hour commutes, cries for teacher housing and the sight of police officers sleeping in cars — is prompting legislators and organizers to propose ever more far-reaching steps.

State Senator Scott Wiener, a San Francisco Democrat, offered a bill that would essentially override local zoning to allow multiple-unit housing around transit stops and in suburbs where single-family homes are considered sacrosanct. The bill was shelved in its final committee hearing this year, but Mr. Wiener has vowed to keep pushing the idea.

Economists from both the left and the right have a well-established aversion to rent control, arguing that such policies ignore the message of rising prices, which is to build more housing. Studies in San Francisco and elsewhere show that price caps often prompt landlords to abandon the rental business by converting their units to owner-occupied homes. And since rent controls typically have no income threshold, they have been faulted for benefiting high-income tenants.

“Rent control is definitely having a moment across the country,” said Jim Lapides, a vice president at the National Multifamily Housing Council, which opposes such restrictions. “But we’re seeing folks turn to really shortsighted policy that will end up making the very problem worse.”

But many of the same studies show that rent-control policies have been effective at shielding tenants from evictions and sudden rent increases, particularly the lower-income and older tenants who are at a high risk of becoming homeless. Also, many of the newer policies — which supporters prefer to call rent caps — are considerably less stringent than those in effect in places like New York and San Francisco for decades.

“Caps on rent increases, like the one proposed in California or the one recently passed in Oregon, are part of a new generation of rent-regulation policies that are trying to thread the needle by offering some form of protection against egregious rent hikes for vulnerable renters without stymieing much-needed new housing construction,” said Elizabeth Kneebone, research director at the Terner Center for Housing Innovation at the University of California.

Supporters of rent control marched in Sacramento last year. After adjusting for housing costs, California has the highest state poverty rate.CreditRich Pedroncelli/Associated Press

Mr. Chiu’s bill is technically an anti-gouging provision, with a 10-year limit, modeled on the typically short-term price caps instituted after disasters like floods and fires. It exempts dwellings less than 15 years old, to avoid discouraging construction, as well as most single-family homes. But it covers tenants of corporations like Invitation Homes, which built nationwide rental portfolios encompassing tens of thousands of properties that had been lost to foreclosure after the housing bust a decade ago.

According to the online real-estate marketplace Zillow, only about 7 percent of the California properties listed last year saw rent increases larger than allowed under the bill. But there could be a big effect in rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods like Boyle Heights in Los Angeles, where typical rents on apartments not covered by the city’s rent regulations have jumped more than 40 percent since 2016.

By limiting the steepest and most abrupt rent increases, the bill is also likely to reduce the incentive for hedge funds and other investors to buy buildings where they see a prospective payoff in replacing working-class occupants with tenants paying higher rents.

Sandra Zamora, a 27-year-old preschool teacher, lives in a one-bedroom apartment in Menlo Park, Calif., a short drive from Facebook’s expanding headquarters. A year ago, Ms. Zamora’s building got a new owner, and the rent jumped to $1,900 from $1,100, a rise of over 70 percent. Most of her neighbors left. Ms. Zamora stayed, adding a roommate to the 600-square-foot space and taking a weekend job as a barista.

“Having an $800 increase at once was really shocking,” she said. “It just keeps me thinking every month: ‘O.K., when is it going to happen? How much am I going to get increased the next month?’ It’s just a constant worry.”

Even as more states begin to experiment with rent control, it has long existed in places like New York City, which intervened to address a housing shortage post-World War II, and San Francisco, where it was adopted in 1979.

Today it is common in many towns across New Jersey and in several cities in California, including Berkeley and Oakland, although the form differs by jurisdiction. Regulated apartments in New York City are mostly subject to rent caps even after a change in tenants, for example, while rent control in the Bay Area has no such provision.

In New York City, where almost half of the rental stock is regulated, a board determines the maximum rent increases each year; this year it approved a 1.5 percent cap on one-year leases, considerably lower than the limits passed in Oregon and California.

Cea Weaver, campaign coordinator of Housing Justice for All, a coalition of New York tenants that pushed for new rent laws, welcomed the outcome in California.

“Any victory helps to build a groundswell,” she said. “There is a younger generation of people who see themselves as permanent renters, and they’re demanding that our public policy catches up to that economic reality.”

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Trump Eyes Crackdown on Homelessness as Aides Visit California

Westlake Legal Group 10dc-homeless-facebookJumbo Trump Eyes Crackdown on Homelessness as Aides Visit California Urban Areas United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Real Estate and Housing (Residential) Los Angeles (Calif) Homeless Persons Executive Orders and Memorandums California Affordable Housing

WASHINGTON — President Trump is pushing aides to find ways to curtail the growing number of homeless people living on the streets of Los Angeles, part of broader discussions his aides have held for weeks about urban problems in liberal locales, according to his personal lawyer and administration officials.

A team of administration officials is in California on what was described as a “fact-finding” mission as they weigh proposals to address the burgeoning crisis. But it is not clear what steps the administration could legally take on an issue that has traditionally been handled at the local level.

“Like many Americans, the president has taken notice of the homelessness crisis, particularly in cities and states where the liberal policies of overregulation, excessive taxation and poor public service delivery are combining to dramatically increase poverty and public health risks,” said Judd Deere, a White House spokesman. He said that the president signed an executive order to ease affordable housing development in June, and that he had “directed his team to go further and develop a range of policy options for consideration to deal with this tragedy.”

The visit of the administration officials to California was first reported by The Washington Post. The intensified discussions took place as the president, who has frequently criticized how urban areas in Democratic states are managed, prepares for a swing through California next week.

California has the largest homeless population in the country, according to a 2018 report compiled by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, at an estimated 130,000 people.

And the nature of homelessness in California is markedly different than in other parts of the country; the state also has the highest percentage of homeless who are unsheltered, with nearly 70 percent of the homeless — or about 90,000 people — living on the street. That report estimated that nearly half of all people without shelter in the United States were in California in 2018. New York State had the second largest homeless population, nearly 92,000, according to the report. But of those, fewer than 5 percent lacked shelter.

Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer and former mayor of New York, who was known for his aggressive crackdowns on street-bound homelessness, said he had been discussing the issue with administration officials.

“I think they feel that there’s got to be something that creates an incentive, carrot and stick, for cities to do something about it,” Mr. Giuliani said, adding that the discussions had been going on for two months.

Word of the efforts by the administration, which has repeatedly sought to cut housing assistance in its budget requests, alarmed advocates for the homeless and angered city leaders across California.

“Simply cracking down on homelessness without providing the housing that people need is not a real solution and will likely only make the situation worse,” said Mayor London Breed of San Francisco, whose city has been an object of the president’s scorn.

An estimated 59,000 homeless people live in Los Angeles County, according to a count conducted this year by the county, about a 12 percent increase over 2018. Of those, an estimated 44,000, or 75 percent, were unsheltered. Within the city of Los Angeles, which is distinct from the county, there were 36,000 homeless, including 27,000 who were unsheltered, according to that same count.

Los Angeles’s mayor, Eric M. Garcetti, and other political leaders faced intense scrutiny this summer after the release of the results of the 2019 count, which also showed that the number of homeless had increased 16 percent in the city. The surge was especially shocking because the government spent hundreds of millions of dollars in 2018 to address the problem.

Voters approved two high-profile initiatives in recent years to fund homeless services in the region, including a 2016 city bond that earmarked $1.2 billion to build housing for the homeless and a 2017 county quarter-cent sales tax increase to raise about $355 million annually for 10 years. The mayor’s defenders and city officials have pointed out that the city housed nearly 22,000 people in 2018, a record number for the government and an increase of 23 percent from 2017. But even amid those efforts, the high cost of housing in Los Angeles, one of the priciest rental markets in the country, has continued to push more individuals and families out of their homes.

While Skid Row in downtown Los Angeles has often been a focal point for national conversations about homelessness, the high rate of unsheltered people has become a source of friction across the state, in cities including Eureka, Oakland and San Francisco. With nowhere else to go, the homeless often set up encampments on sidewalks and beneath highway overpasses. Increasingly, encampments are nestling against wild lands, raising concerns amid increasingly intense and volatile wildfire seasons.

But while the displeasure of middle-class urban residents often receives attention, the homeless themselves — many of whom have full-time jobs but cannot afford California’s high rents — have the most to be frustrated about. Safety is a huge concern: An analysis published earlier this year by Kaiser Health News found that a record 918 homeless people died last year in Los Angeles County.

The administration has discussed refurbishing homeless facilities or building new ones, The Post reported. An administration official said that while those ideas have been discussed, nothing has been settled.

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Amazon HQ2 Is Upending Northern Virginia’s Already Unstable Housing Market

WASHINGTON — Amazon has yet to break ground in Northern Virginia for its second headquarters, but residents are already turning away persistent speculators, recalculating budgets for down payments on homes and fighting rent increases.

Amazon announced in November that its second headquarters would be in National Landing, which includes parts of Crystal City, Pentagon City and Alexandria, all suburbs of Washington. The company will hire 25,000 people over the next 10 to 12 years.

“That day in November, I got more Zillow calls, inquiries and leads off of Zillow than I did the entire month of October,” said Michelle Doherty, a real estate agent who focuses on South Arlington, an area that is expected to change a lot.

As of June, the median home price in Arlington County was on track to spike 17.2 percent by the end of 2019, according to a report by the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors and the George Mason University Center for Regional Analysis.

Speculators have begun asking homeowners to sell. Potential home buyers, typically younger, are holding off buying to save more money for down payments. Low-income renters are worried about rising rents and about how they will afford basic necessities.

And Amazon has not even fully arrived yet. The company plans to hire 400 employees for the headquarters by the end of the year, and 1,000 to 1,500 employees in subsequent years.

James Younger, a homeowner in South Arlington for over 30 years, received inquiries from speculators once or twice a year before the Amazon HQ2 announcement. Now, he gets inquiries at least twice a month.

“I’m certainly not going to sell it,” Mr. Younger said.

Some real estate brokers have gone beyond mailers. Agents hosted a wine and cheese event, with massages, in the community room in Erica Le Blanc’s town home building in Crystal City.

“Amazon is just speeding up the development timeline,” said Ms. Le Blanc, who expects to see more restaurants in her neighborhood because of Amazon.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_157626066_9b0a943f-8968-4139-bd3c-1e3af3fc08ba-articleLarge Amazon HQ2 Is Upending Northern Virginia’s Already Unstable Housing Market Real Estate and Housing (Residential) Homeless Persons amazon Affordable Housing

“Whether or not the rent increases the people have experienced recently are the result of Amazon, or just the normal demand in the housing market, we don’t know yet,” said Christian Dorsey, the chairman of the Arlington County Board.CreditJared Soares for The New York Times

Christian Dorsey, the chairman of the Arlington County Board, was careful to note that he did not believe Amazon was directly responsible for the spike in home prices and cautioned that rent increases were typical for the area.

“Whether or not the rent increases the people have experienced recently are the result of Amazon, or just the normal demand in the housing market, we don’t know yet,” he said.

But low-income residents in Northern Virginia are worried. Amazon first began in Seattle in 1994, and since then, highly paid workers moving into the region to work at the company have driven up home and rental costs in the area. Homelessness rates have skyrocketed.

Arlington is already one of the most expensive places to live in Northern Virginia, largely because of its proximity to Washington, and many residents fear that it could now go the way of Seattle.

“The fact that we’re going to have 25,000 more jobs in Arlington is just likely to make it even more difficult for someone who doesn’t have a large income to live in Arlington,” said Christine Richardson, a board member of the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors.

Gloria, a housekeeper who has lived in Arlandria, a neighborhood in Alexandria, for over 13 years, has already seen rent increases. The increases have made it harder for her to afford basic needs like food, clothes and shoes for her daughters, who are in the sixth and seventh grades, and herself.

“Before in the past, every time the rent were to increase, it would only increase around $15 monthly,” said Gloria, who asked that her last name not be used for fear of retaliation from her building’s management company. “But now they increased it up to $75.” She thinks the Amazon announcement prompted the increases.

Gloria has been working with Ingris Moran, the lead organizer for Tenants and Workers United, a grass-roots nonprofit organization in Arlandria that works with low-income immigrant communities, to stop her building’s management company from again raising the rent during this lease period.

Ms. Moran said she was nervous about such increases. She grew up in Arlandria and lives with her husband and her parents in a one-bedroom apartment that has a den. The rent, including utilities, can reach up to $1,700 a month.

“My neighbors, most of them have two to three jobs, and they are earning much less than me and they still have children, so I can just imagine how they’re struggling when I’m struggling myself,” Ms. Moran said.

Benedetta Kissel, a homeowner in South Arlington, said her son lived in Maryland because the prices of homes in South Arlington were too high.

“My neighbors, most of them have two to three jobs, and they are earning much less than me and they still have children so I can just imagine how they’re struggling when I’m struggling myself,” said Ingris Moran, the lead organizer of the Tenants and Workers United labor union in Alexandria, Va.CreditJared Soares for The New York Times

“Many people’s children can’t afford to live in their hometown due to high rents and home prices,” she said. “Amazon will only make this worse.”

Virginia, Alexandria and Arlington County have all increased their housing budgets for 2020, in part because of the Amazon announcement.

The Virginia General Assembly approved $9 million annually for the Virginia Housing Trust Fund, which is an extra $3.5 million in funding. Arlington County budgeted $16 million for the Affordable Housing Investment Fund and $9.3 million for Housing Grants, a rental subsidy program. That is roughly $1 million in additional funding for both the Affordable Housing Investment and Housing Grants.

Mr. Dorsey said the $1 million in additional funding would primarily go toward maintaining existing efforts.

“With Amazon coming, we have new efforts that are being supported by $15 million annually from the Commonwealth of Virginia, from the state, for the next five years to deal with housing impacts from Amazon and associated investment,” he said.

But housing and community advocates said that was not enough, especially because of the incentives Amazon received: $23 million from Arlington County and $750 million from the State of Virginia.

“I don’t think we as a community and leaders did enough upfront to focus on affordable housing with Amazon,” said Julius D. Spain Sr., the president of the Arlington chapter of the N.A.A.C.P. “How are our families who are earning $20,000 to $60,000 a year going to sustain and afford to live in a place such as Arlington?”

Amazon counters that its second headquarters will not have the same effect in the Washington region that its first headquarters had in Seattle.

“One of the things that drew us to this location was the plans the county and the commonwealth have in place to address this issue,” said Brian Huseman, a vice president for public policy at Amazon. “We also plan to grow gradually and hire people who live here to help reduce the impact on the region.”

The company already has plans to address housing issues in the region. Its development partner, JBG Smith, is the principal sponsor of the Washington Housing Initiative, which aims to produce affordable work force housing. Amazon announced in June that it would donate $3 million to the Arlington Community Foundation, a nonprofit organization that addresses affordable housing and homelessness in the region. The company also plans to match its employees’ contributions to several organizations that focus on housing, up to $5 million.

“That’s great that they did that,” said Alice Hogan, a member of the Arlington County Housing Commission. “But that is like a penny in their world, a tenth of a penny.”

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