News Roundup

  • Mobile Home Community on Tribal Land Faces Rent Increase after Arsenic Detection
    The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) detected arsenic levels 10 times the federal limit in the water supply at Oasis Mobile Home Park on Torrez Martinez tribal land in Southern California. The park houses 1,900 people, many of whom are undocumented farmworkers, in 220 trailers. The EPA ordered park owner Scott Lawson to provide bottled water to residents and submit a plan to identify and correct what caused the arsenic treatment system’s failure. Days after the EPA issued the order, Lawson announced a 30 percent rent increase. As the park is on sovereign tribal land, Lawson was not required to give three months’ notice as otherwise required by California law.
  • Texas Renters Affected by Hurricane Harvey Claim They Were Excluded from $5 Billion in Aid
    A recent lawsuit filed against the US Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Texas General Land Office alleges that the agencies unjustly favored homeowners, developers, and landowners when allocating $5 billion in Hurricane Harvey recovery funding. The suit claims that these decisions have a discriminatory effect, as the vast majority of tenants in counties affected by the 2017 storm are Black and Latinx, while the majority of homeowners in these counties are white. “Renters just don’t have the same access to recovery resources that homeowners do. They are still struggling to recover from the setbacks the disaster caused,” said Rachel Zummo, an attorney at Texas RioGrande Legal Aid.
  • San Francisco Nonprofit Provides First-of-Its-Kind Reentry Service for Formerly Incarcerated Seniors
    The Senior Ex-Offenders Program (SEOP) is the first reentry service in the nation that specifically serves older adults. Although older returning citizens have lower rates of recidivism than those who are younger, they have higher rates of homelessness, unemployment, and chronic medical conditions. “Older people have a different set of needs,” SEOP Director Cayente Pennix said. “We work with clients pre- and postrelease to prepare them, to give them a vision through their barriers.” SEOP centers stable housing in their release plans and manages three transitional houses in Bayview. SEOP is one of six housing programs funded by the San Francisco Department of Probation.
  • Youth Homelessness Rates Motivate Chicago Public Schools Teacher Strike
    The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) has been negotiating their contract with the city, and they submitted contract language to Mayor Lori Lightfoot that demands more municipal staff to support families in danger of losing housing, among other policy requests. Mayor Lightfoot responded that though she “shares much of [their] vision on affordable housing,” CTU’s collective bargaining agreement is “not the appropriate place for the city to legislate its affordable housing policy.” CTU leaders assert that as Chicago Public Schools (CPS) educate nearly 17,000 homeless students, access to stable, affordable housing is critical to the success of their schools. CPS teachers are on strike as of this morning.
  • California Removes Barriers to Accessory Dwelling Unit Construction
    Governor Gavin Newsom passed several pieces of legislation that ease regulations on the construction of accessory dwelling units (ADUs), sometimes colloquially known as “granny flats,” with the intent to spur ADU development in single-family zoned neighborhoods. Ben Metcalf, former director of the California Department of Housing and Community Development, said that single-family zoning is a primary barrier to housing affordability in California and that Governor Newsom cannot meet his administration’s housing goals without encouraging the state’s 9 million single-family homeowners to build ADUs. However, some opponents, such as Saratoga Mayor Manny Cappello, worry that an increase in ADUs will change neighborhood aesthetics and crowd residential street parking.