Rent advocates push for more affordable housing, rent control in Santa Ana – Orange County Register

A coalition of Santa Ana community groups has launched a “week of action” to highlight renter’s rights in Orange County’s second-largest city, with the goal of enacting protections like rent control and “just cause” evictions.

Local activists also are pushing Santa Ana leaders to develop more than 90 city-owned parcels for such public benefits as open space, affordable housing and economic opportunities.

Activities from Monday through Saturday include a renter’s rights workshop, a march on City Hall, a bike ride, and a film and art exhibit. Participants also will join an annual church drive to wash the clothes for the homeless.

“We need protection for renters in Santa Ana,” said Luis Sarmiento, a member of the year-old Community Lands in Community Hands coalition. “There’s a huge, huge population of renters who are facing inhumane conditions and rising rent and evictions.”

An Orange County renter has to earn almost $35 an hour to be able to afford the typical rent for a two-bedroom apartment of $1,813 a month, according to the National Low-Income Housing Coalition’s 2017 report. That translates into an annual income of $72,520, or 3.3 minimum-wage jobs. The county has the fifth-highest “housing wage” needed in the state, the 2017 report said.

The Santa Ana coalition cited recent polling data showing that 84 percent of Santa Ana voters surveyed are concerned about rising rent and the rising cost of living, while one in four is very concerned about losing their current housing. Almost half — 45 percent — said they know someone who has been evicted or forced to move.

“We need a policy that will put a stop to unjust evictions, which disproportionately affect vulnerable groups,” said Isuri Ramos, a community organizer with the Kennedy Commission.

Sarmiento said the coalition is pushing for rent control and for “just cause evictions,” which would require landlords to state a reason for evictions such as destruction of property or non-payment of rent.

Currently, landlords can evict tenants for any reason so long as they give adequate notice. An Orange County Register investigation published in May showed eviction rates have been declining steadily in Orange County and throughout Southern California since 2009 as employment and the economy rebounded from the Great Recession. But evictions still are devastating for those going through the process, creating a black mark on their record which makes it harder to find new…

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