By Alex Cordero
Affordable housing continues to be a big issue in the City of Roses and with the upcoming election of government officials local organizations are informing local residents of what is at risk when it comes to rent control and affordable housing and urge local Pasadenans to vote wisely.
The Pasadena Tenants Union (PTU) regularly brings local residents together to raise awareness of the current affordable housing crisis in the Crown City. This organization recently organized a panel discussion on targeting issues like rent control and eviction protections for Pasadena residents. Panelists included Denny Zane, the founder and executive director of Move LA and also a founding member of Santa Monica’s for Renters’ Rights, who played a big role in passing rent control and just cause policies in the City of Santa Monica.
Panelists also included Housing Justice Campaign Director for Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) Francisco Dueñas, Pasadena Tenant Justice Coalition (PTJC) and PTU member Nicole Hodgson, and René Moya, director of Housing is a Human Right. All panelists are pioneers in founding community groups to fight and protect their communities from rent increases and unjust evictions.
“We actually have to be diligent and research the policy. And again that is why we have the Pasadena Tenant Union and a policy committee who research policies for the community to really take a look at policies statewide and local levels and really dissect it from a tenants viewpoint and take ownership to come out with ‘yes we support this or no we don’t’ and really take ownership of our housing,” Barbara Hodgins urged a room full of local residents coming together to support these organizations at Throop Church.
Per the PTU, no candidate running in the upcoming 2020 election supports rent control or just cause in the City of Pasadena.
Another organization getting highly involved in supporting groups advocating for more affordable housing and tenant protection is Pasadenans Organizing for Progress (POP). Kimberly Douglas, a board director of POP, was among the many attendees getting information about this hot topic. “I happen to be on the northwest commission and we’ve had some tenants come and speak to the commission about being evicted. Most recent a grandfather, fourth generation Pasadenan raising two grandchildren, was told to leave his apartment in two months. This is what’s going on! People are getting 60 day eviction notices.”
Douglas went on to share that the reason why she attended the panel was to get a better understanding of the issues of housing in Pasadena so when it came time to vote she would know who to vote for and what to vote against as well. “I can assure you none of the councilmembers are tenants and I’ve learned that 57% of the population in Pasadena are tenants so they’re not actually being represented on the council.”
Earlier this year in January there was a Martin Luther King Jr. vigil for affordable housing sponsored by the Greater Pasadena Affordable Housing Group (GPHAG). The vigil was held in front of Chang Commons, an affordable housing building currently owned by Fuller Theological Seminary. The building will soon be up for sale and local residents are urging Fuller board member officials and the City of Pasadena to have Chang Commons remain affordable.
Local residents, students and alumni of Fuller are urging Fuller board members to do the right thing and sell under the current agreement that Chang Commons remain affordable and also make any new buyers aware of the agreement.
A letter from City Manager Steve Mermell sent to Richard A. McDonald, Fuller’s attorney, addresses the concern of the terms regarding the ‘Assignment of Inclusionary Housing Agreement’ (aka Chang Commons). In the letter the terms of The Inclusionary Housing Agreement are briefly described as binding on successors and assigns. It also states that the City “believes is important to clarify this issue prior to the marketing of the dwelling units.”
How things unfold remains to be seen while many residents continue to fear for their housing future in Pasadena.