Renters Rally at LA City Hall to Demand Better Housing Practices

Several hundred low-income renters and their advocates converged on Los Angeles City Hall Wednesday to rally against unfair renting practices in the city.

Groups chanted as they held signs reading, "Renters make LA work. Let's make LA work for renters."

"LA is a renter majority," a demonstrator said. "We make up 66 percent of the city, yet we continue to face eviction, rising rents, threat of displacement from irresponsible development and loss of affordable housing."

The LA City Council passed two motions Wednesday, including one that seeks to strengthen the city's program for quality repairs in substandard housing. The second seeks to create a landlord rent registry to fight unfair rent increases.

"It's one thing to say you're going to do upgrades, make upgrades and retrofits an apartment building," said Rusty Hicks with the LA County Federation of Labor. "It's another thing to say that you're trying to increase profit margins."

A report released last week showed the already sky-high price of rent in Southern California is only getting higher, with LA County's average rent spiking over $100 from the same time last year.

A September 2014 study by the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs reported that Los Angeles was the most unaffordable rental market in the country.

Mike Dennis of the East Los Angeles Community Corporation said the measures are "very important steps" but added that "more aggressive action needs to be taken to address the housing crisis with no delay, because the housing crisis is real and it's devastating working class neighborhoods."

Dennis said his group is calling on city leaders to address the Ellis Act, a state law that allows property owners to evict renters in order to do rehabilitation work, which he said serves as an incentive for owners to allow their properties to go into disrepair.

Once residents move out of rent-controlled properties, they become market-rate properties, under the city's rent control program.

City News Service contributed to this report.

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