Photo Description: Tenants and organizers rally on the south lawn steps of City Hall.

Photo CreditCarla Torrez-Montero.

Los Angeles, CA – October 4, 2022 – Today, the Keep LA Housed (KLAH) coalition, in partnership with other organizations like UNITE HERE Local 11 and United to House LA, rallied outside Los Angeles City Hall to demand strong permanent protections for tenants, and to fight against the termination of the city’s emergency COVID-19 tenant protections.

Faizah Malik, attorney with Public Counsel and member of KLAH, highlighted the dissonance between the concerns being expressed by landlords and tenants, stating that “On one side of the equation is a profit motive. On the other side of the equation is a roof over a family’s head.” She emphasized, as did Councilmember Nithya Raman (District 4), that the emergency protections put in place during the pandemic were successful in keeping people off the streets, and that to lift them without first implementing permanent protections to replace them would be “reckless and inhumane”.

Tenant and member of UNITE HERE Local 11 – Jose Calderón – who works at the Line Hotel in Koreatown spoke to the connection between housing justice and workers rights. “In this crisis, working people struggle to stay housed, but before we become homeless, we double up or triple up with friends or family. And during COVID, overcrowding cost us too many lives.”, he said. Calderón then pointed to a critical upcoming ballot measure to help fund the implementation of permanent tenant protections, stating, “Measure ULA combined with strong tenant protections will save lives—it’s just that simple.”

In the end, Council voted to move forward with drafting an ordinance to sunset emergency protections by January 31, 2023, despite a motion by Councilmember Raman to extend this date to February 28th. They also voted, however, to draft ordinances for the implementation of important permanent tenant protections like universal just cause for all units. Additionally, Council voted against a motion for an early end to the rent freeze – it will continue, as planned, until January 31, 2024.

Council also committed to conducting several report backs on additional protections. Among these will be a report to determine a nonpayment threshold to help protect tenants against being evicted for failure to pay small amounts of rent during periods of financial instability, and another to provide adequate relocation assistance to tenants who are forced to move due to large rent increases.

“We’re not happy about the date for ending protections”, said Carla De Paz, Director of Organizational Strategy at Community Power Collective (CPC) – a member organization of KLAH. “But we are excited about universal just cause and a report back for limiting eviction for folks who can’t pay rent. The pandemic exacerbated an already existing housing crisis, and we said from the beginning that we were not going back to a pre-pandemic status quo. Today we saw some important proposals for permanent protections thanks to the tireless grassroots advocacy from our people, and we’ll be back to make sure they’re adopted.”

Keep LA Housed recognizes that this pandemic has affected everyone, even small property owners at times, but we are fighting for a Los Angeles where NO ONE’s right to housing is up for debate, and that starts with protecting the rights of those in our communities who are most vulnerable to homelessness: low-income and working-class tenants.

We know that emergency protections kept thousands of Angelenos from becoming homeless, and we cannot afford a gap in protections for tenants. As such, we will work hard to hold City Councilmembers accountable to their commitment to implement permanent protections prior to lifting emergency protections.