Rent Escrow Account Program (REAP)
Housing Long Beach identified a Rent Escrow Account Program as an effective tool to address the condition of substandard homes. REAP would allow tenants residing in substandard homes to pay their rent, or a reduced rent, to the City until their homes are repaired. This Program would be at no cost to the City, it would repair dilapidated units and it would protect tenants from unfair retaliation.
Many cities in California have adopted similar programs as a cost effective way to improve the quality of the existing housing stock. Such cities include: Los Angeles, Sacramento, Oakland, Santa Monica, San Francisco and Elk Grove.
The language included in the Housing Element for REAP states that the City will explore the program and present a report to the Council by December of 2014. They will propose a solution and the Council will vote on the program and begin implementation in 2015.
Housing Long Beach’s work will focus on: exposing the stories of families living in substandard units to increase the urgency and need for the program; growing the community support to increase political will; working with Council to provide education and advocacy on the need for REAP; building strong coalitions to broaden the movement.
Get involved with HLB’s work on REAP by contacting Jorge Rivera at firstname.lastname@example.org or 310.766.3246.
New Housing Development
Housing Long Beach has always fought for the prioritization of new affordable housing developments through progressive housing policies – such as a mixed-income housing ordinance – and the identification of permanent, local funding sources.
Housing Long Beach will work to secure these investments through ongoing budget debates, the 2015 Housing Action Plan, and the new Civic Center project.
Integrated Voter Engagement
As a community organizing agency, HLB believes that the voices of the community are central to shaping our public institutions. However, the realities in Long Beach show an appallingly low voter turnout. In one district of nearly 50,000 people, a total of 600 voters cast a ballot for their City Councilmember in the last election. In the first district -which covers downtown and therefore is the hot bed for development and gentrification – only 1,600 total votes were cast (in a district of 50,000), with the winner coming ahead by only 400 votes. In the 2010 Long Beach mayoral elections, only 38,021 ballots were cast – only 18% of registered voters and only 8% of the total population.
Low voting patterns in Long Beach – especially amongst low-income communities of color – result in community concerns being pushed aside by elected officials and priority given to the concerns of only a small percentage of Long Beach residents.
Housing Long Beach is a part of LB Rising, a rich network of over 16 organizations including: the LGBTQ Center of Long Beach, Filipino Migrant Center, the Coalition for Good Jobs and a Healthy Community (LAANE), Khmer Girls and Action and the Miguel Contreras Foundation. Together, we have developed a strategy to increase civic and voter engagement in the upcoming April and June elections as well as in our ongoing campaign work to increase civic and voter engagement in local elections and throughout the year to increase affordable and quality housing, ensure inclusive and supportive education, defend living wage jobs, and protect a clean and healthy environment.
What is a Language Access Policy?
A Language Access Policy is a City-wide policy that would set consistent standards and procedures to ensure that Limited English Proficiency (LEP) residents have timely and meaningful access to the City’s meetings, services and vital documents.
Why does Long Beach need a Language Access Policy
Many residents want to be involved in City government and seek access to City services and documents, but their limited proficiency of English acts as a barrier. As the most ethnically diverse City in the nation, LB can and should be a leader in terms of language access for its residents.
In August 2013, the Long Beach City Council passed a City-wide Language Access Policy that increased and improved translation and interpretation services for residents in Spanish, Khmer & Tagalog.
This policy was passed in part due to the advocacy efforts of the Language Access Coalition, which is comprised of several organizations invested in ensuring the City’s residents have equal access to participate and receive city services and documents.
Language Access Coalition: Building Healthy Communities Long Beach, Californians for Justice, East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice, Educated Men with Meaningful Messages, Filipino Migrant Center, Housing Long Beach, Khmer Girls in Action, Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, Long Beach Immigrant Rights Coalition, United Cambodian Community.