In 2013-2014, Housing Long Beach organized hundreds of Long Beach residents for the inclusion of progressive housing policies in the City’s Housing Element.
The Housing Element (HE) is an 8-year planning document that is required for all cities and counties by the State Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD). HLB had a list of three community policy priorities for inclusion:
1. Mixed Income Housing
10% of units in new apartment and condominium developments should be set aside, on-site, as affordable to Long Beach working families.
2. Permanent, Local Sources of Funding
The City must identify and commit permanent, local sources of funding for housing development.
3. Rent Trust Account Program (REAP)
A Rent Trust Account Program 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.
On January 7th, 2014, the City Council voted to adopt a Housing Element with a commitment to explore REAP. (Read more here). At the same time, the City did not identify any new sources of funding or adopt a mixed-income housing ordinance. This decision means that there are great opportunities to improve the condition of homes in Long Beach, while HLB must continue to organizer to identify ways to develop new affordable housing.
Additional community victories include: Secured changes to SB2, a zoning code for homeless shelters; trained 350 residents in three languages on the Housing Element; released a documentary and white paper; gained dozens of media articles; developed new allies and built new resident leadership; heard vocal support from new councilmembers and built future allies in City Hall; continued to grow the community movement for housing equity in Long Beach.
The Downtown Community Plan (2009-2011)
Housing Long Beach fought for two and a half years for the inclusion of important community benefits to be included in the Downtown Community Plan (DTCP), a 30-year planning document that laid out a vision for Downtown Long Beach.
Housing Long Beach resident leaders and allies developed a platform of four modest but critical community benefits:
- Mixed Income Affordable Housing – Ensuring that 10-15% of housing units developed in the DTCP would be for lower-income families and individuals
- Commercial Linkage Fee – Ensuring developers pay the city a small fee per square foot of retail space that supports the development of rental units for lower-income households
- Right of First Refusal – Ensuring that displaced residents have priority preference for affordable units built within the DTCP area
- Local Hiring for DTCP Construction Jobsand Permanent (service sector) Jobs – Ensures that 30% of job hours go to Long Beach residents and 10% to lower-income Long Beach residents.
Though we ultimately lost the campaign to include community benefits in the DTCP, there were many great successes, including: the creation of new partnerships that will continue to be leveraged; unprecedented community engagement; greater focus on and interest in community organizing; extensive leadership development for community residents. We also raised the level of dialogue and discourse in the City through our work on this campaign and made the DTCP a legitimate citywide issue and a challenge to the balance of power in Long Beach.
Our work over the last 2 ½ years included a number of hard fought victories and opportunities for direct action. If you would like more information please check out our detailed account of various activities we were involved in over the course of our 2 ½ year campaign.
To learn more about our timeline of events in the DTCP campaign, click here.
Lobby Ordinance (2011)
A lobby ordinance requires lobbyists in the city to register and file reports about their monthly activity. A person is considered a lobbyist if they lobby 50 hours or more over a 3 month period, or who makes $3,200 from those they lobby for. HLB worked in alliance with our other partners to ensure that nonprofits were exempt from the Lobby Ordinance. The ordinance would obstruct our work with costly time commitments to fil reports and discourage active community participation from local nonprofits on a legislative level.
Live-Work Local Preference Policy (2010)
The Live-Work Local Preference Policy gives priority to people who live and/or work in Long Beach to rent or purchase affordable housing. HLB obtained key changes to the policy to ensure that it did not violate any fair housing laws and other legal concerns.
The policy gives preference to homeless individuals who have been involuntarily displaced from the city. HLB worked with the City to redefine its definition of “homelessness” to include homeless persons who live in hotels, motels, and persons staying with friends or family; it also included homeless persons with families who live in Long Beach.
Housing Element (2009)
The Housing Element (HE) is an Element of the City’s General Plan. The City must show the State Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) how it plans to meet the housing needs of its low and moderate income residents. We had the City target part of its annual housing budget towards extremely low-income households.
Tenant Relocation Assistance Ordinance Campaign (2007-2009)
In December of 2007, the Long Beach City Council approved HLB’s proposed revisions to the City’s Tenant Relocation Assistance Ordinance, making the Ordinance tenant friendly and preventing landlord abuses. The City Council directed the City Attorney to work with Housing Long Beach staff and community leaders to re-write the Ordinance, and in April 2009, the City Council adopted the final revised Tenant Relocation Assistance Ordinance with HLB’s revisions.
Housing Trust Fund (2006)
The Long Beach City Council created an affordable Housing Trust Fund and targeted one-half of monies deposited in the Fund to the city’s poorest residents — extremely low income households earning 30% or less of area median income (approx. $22,000 or less annually for a family of four). This was a significant accomplishment because historically the City of Long Beach had not targeted any of its housing dollars towards extremely low-income households
Averted Section 8 Crisis (2004)
HLB prevented the Long Beach Housing Authority from enforcing a number of draconian and illegal cost saving measures to Section 8 proposed by the Housing Authority to offset potential funding shortfalls. The Housing Authority had proposed, among other things, to increase all Section 8 tenant rents by $100 a month and prohibit Section 8 tenants from moving to other units inside Long Beach. HLB was successful in defeating all of the Housing Authority’s proposed measures