Union Station Homeless Services announced its endorsement of Measure H, the rent control measure on the ballot in Pasadena on Monday.
“Rent control and just cause eviction protections are just common sense policies to address the crisis that we’re in,” said Shawn Morrissey, Senior Director of Advocacy and Community Engagement at Union Station Homeless Services. “We understand Measure H as homelessness prevention.”
On May 16, Pasadena Partnership to End Homelessness released the report of the 2022 Homeless Count, conducted over two days in February, which found that “housing affordability and availability is the root cause of homelessness.”
“In order to affect increased and lasting change,” the report said, “serious efforts must be made to confront and mitigate the systemic underlying root causes of homelessness. While our community has invested more heavily than ever in the homelessness response system, it continues to bear the challenges and failures of other existing systems. Structural forces such as high housing costs and low wages, market conditions, and housing availability are compounded by institutional racism, creating significant racial disparities among people who experience homelessness. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated these structural failures and highlights the need for safe and stable homes for our community’s most vulnerable neighbors.”
The LA County Homeless Count results were released last week and underline the same point. The data reveals that seven in ten unsheltered people experiencing homelessness are experiencing homelessness for the first time and the majority of those unsheltered homeless individuals cite economic reasons and eviction as the primary causes of their homelessness.
Housing advocates have long pointed to the fact that more people fall into homeless for the first time than can be permanently housed each year.
While it’s true that nonprofit agencies like Union Station are housing more people than they ever have before, the inflow of new people experiencing homeless makes it impossible to get ahead of the crisis, they report.
“Measure H isn’t a miracle cure,” said Anne Miskey, Union Station’s Executive Director, “but it is a vital tool to keep our community housed, especially during times of market volatility and public health crises.”
Measure H will limit evictions to cases where a landlord can demonstrate good cause, such as non-payment of rent or another breach of contract; provide relocation assistance if a landlord is reclaiming an apartment or removing a unit from the rental market; and close the “renoviction” loophole, allowing tenants to return to their home if a temporary relocation is necessary for health and safety-related repairs.
According to supporters, the measure would also stabilize rents by limiting annual increases to 75% of inflation, limit rent increases to once a year, conform to California law requiring a fair rate of return for landlords, allow tenants to petition for rent decreases if repairs are not made or services are withheld.
The measure would also establish a rental housing board with powers to announce the annual allowable rent increase, establish rules and regulations regarding rental properties, appoint hearing officers to mediate rent adjustment petitions and charge a per-unit fee to landlords, ensuring the funding for its operations falls to large corporate landlords instead of Pasadena residents.
The measure will also establish an online rental registry, listing all rental properties in the city with relevant data including any violations of building codes or Registry regulations.