Daily 49er

LiBRE to rally for affordable housing at city council meeting

Residents seek a Renter’s Day and credit check report reform.

Carlos Villicana, Staff Writer

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Long Beach residents will be gathering at City Hall to demand a credit report reform that would eliminate the need to pay a fee per housing application and ask for a Renter’s Day that would be used as a platform to advance affordable housing policies.

The rally, organized by Long Beach Residents Empowered (otherwise known as LiBRE) will begin in front of the Long Beach City Hall doors at 4 p.m. and move into the building, where they will sit it on the Long Beach City Council meeting taking place at 5 p.m. There they will voice a demand for the city council to proclaim Renter’s Day an annual event on April 19.

“We are residents, and we have a voice — we want to be heard,” LiBRE Program Director Jorge Rivera said.

Rivera also hopes that the day will be used to celebrate the contributions of renters to the city of Long Beach and for residents to use it as a platform for advancing policies that help property owners and renters, such as reforming the credit check process that people are subject to when they apply for residency, which comes with a fee that must be paid for per application. He wants to change that process so that people only have to pay a one-time fee that covers them for 90 days while they search for a home.

Renters make up 60 percent of the city’s population, according to Mayor Robert Garcia’s affordable housing study sessions conducted last year.

The rally was inspired by the Renter’s Day that was approved in Los Angeles three years ago and has been planned for months. Rivera hopes that the event will serve as a way to build momentum around a renter movement in Long Beach.

“We contribute a lot, we make the city work, [and] we want the city to acknowledge our presence,” Rivera said.

First District councilwoman Lena Gonzalez and 2nd District councilwoman Jeannine Pearce had confirmed that they will be present at the rally.

Rivera said that the credit check reform was brought up by residents around the time of Garcia’s study. Many find it a burden to pay for credit checks while not knowing if their payments will lead to securing housing, and their credit scores are damaged by the multiple payments.

“It is hard for me to have the money for rent and [the] deposit,” Long Beach resident Evangelina Ramirez said.

Ramirez has lived in Long Beach for 24 years and has been searching for a home since December.

“Every time that my credit score is checked, my score is going down — and not only mine but my kids’ credit scores too,” Ramirez said. “We have to submit an application for each one older than 18 years of age, and we have to pay each time – from $25 to $45 for each application.”

During the rally, there will be a silent demonstration by the Long Beach Gray Panthers, an organization that promotes senior’s issues. The demonstration will consist of the Gray Panthers sitting and holding up case files of seniors who have been affected by the lack of affordable housing and increases in rent.

Rivera wants residents of Long Beach to unify with events like this rally, but he also wants to help unify people throughout Los Angeles county. He said that April 19 was chosen as Long Beach’s Renter’s Day because it would align with Los Angeles’ Renter’s Day. Rivera sees this alignment as a way to bring both cities closer together and build a wider movement for addressing affordable housing issues.

“This is the first step in forming a renters movement,” Rivera said. “We can win when we unite and stand side-by-side.”

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