South L.A. tenants received notices that their rent would more than double on the first of December.
A technicality in a Los Angeles City Ordinance has left low income residents in one apartment building facing a difficult and daunting choice in the middle of the holiday season.
The low income families at 1015 W 39th Street have been paying between $390 and $600 a month in rent for their modest apartments in a building that had been covered by Los Angeles Rent Stabilization Ordinance (RSO). In October, however, the tenants received notices that their rent would more than double on the first of December, in some cases going up to $1200 a month. The tenants make as little as $12,000 a year and most will be unable to pay the increased rent.
Tenants had thought they were protected from steep rent increases because the building had been covered by Los Angeles’ Rent Stabilization Ordinance, which applies to almost all buildings built before October 1978. In fact, this building was sold to its current owners by the City itself in 2005, and one of the criteria the City used to evaluate prospective buyers was that there would be “An agreement that existing tenants will continue to pay the current rental rate, increasing annually by not more than the percentage increase in area median income (as limited by the City’s Rent Stabilization Ordinance).”
But a recent finding by the Los Angeles Housing and Community Investment Department determined that the building was NOT subject to the RSO because the building, although built before October 1978, was actually moved to its current site from outside the city limits after that date. This technicality has led the landlord to seek the current rent increases which will leave the current residents financially strapped, displaced, or — if they cannot afford to either move or pay the increased rent — facing eviction or homelessness right before Christmas.
In a report released this week by the National Center on Family Homelessness titled “America’s Youngest Outcasts,” authors noted that the number of homeless children in the U.S. has risen to as much as one in thirty, with California particularly affected. With rents in Los Angeles rising, and more and more people becoming renters, the plight of families at 1015 W 39th Street highlights the need for more affordable housing as a key way to prevent homelessness for children.