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Renters Day declared in Long Beach

City council declares renter’s day while removing key item from agenda.

Robert+Uranga%2C+7th+District+speaks+with+protestors+outside+City+Hall.
Robert Uranga, 7th District speaks with protestors outside City Hall.

Robert Uranga, 7th District speaks with protestors outside City Hall.

Samantha Diaz

Samantha Diaz

Robert Uranga, 7th District speaks with protestors outside City Hall.

Samantha Diaz, Staff Writer

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Long Beach activists rallied outside of the city council chambers Tuesday night to bring renter’s rights to the council’s attention.

Citizens called for the council to create guidelines for protections for tenants in the city, stating that 60 percent of Long Beach residents are renters. They urged the council to declare the third Wednesday of every April “Renters Day” and criticized the council for removing an item that would cut costs to the credit check process when applying for an apartment residency off of the agenda last minute.

“We find ourselves having to fight, having to chant so that we don’t get displaced. If we don’t unite, then they are going to continue to push us out of our own city,” said Jorge Rivera, program director of LiBRE, a non-profit organization that advocates for renters. “Today is the day that we demand renter’s rights. Let Renters Day be the day that we fight for our right to remain in Long Beach.”

Members of the Gray Panthers stood with signs describing different cases of homelessness among the senior citizen population in Long Beach.

“We’re trying to bring attention to the impact gentrification is having on the older adult community in terms of the rent increases that are displacing seniors from their homes. Seniors are disproportionately impacted by [gentrification and rent increases],” said Karen Reside, secretary of the Gray Panthers. “We want to make sure that protections are built in for renters because as of now renters have no protections.”

Reside wanted the council to create limits on landlords and unjust evictions, stating that seniors living off of social security payments are more susceptible to sudden evictions than any other group of renters.

The current eviction guidelines state that if a resident has lived in the unit for less than a year, the landlord is required to give them a 30-day notice, and a 60-day notice if the person has been a resident for longer than a year.

“I’m a senior living off of social security and the only way I can live in Long Beach is through affordable housing. If I lose my housing I don’t know where I would go,” said Reside.

Renters spoke about evictions among other problems facing Long Beach renters, urging the council to take action on renter’s rights.

“Let’s recognize that renters are 60 percent of our city. Let’s recognize that 73 percent of the homeless are homeless because they couldn’t afford a home,” said councilwoman Jeanne Pearce of the third district. “Today is the day to say let’s recognize your efforts let’s recognize your contributions. And [the council] is going to try and help in any way we can.”

Although Pearce along with two of her colleagues, Vice Mayor Rex Richardson and Robert Uranga of the seventh district spoke to the residents and encouraged their efforts, the issue of renter’s rights were not touched on during Tuesday’s meeting.

Council officials did not share with the protestors why the credit reform item was taken off the agenda, leaving many citizens feeling underrepresented, despite the council declaring Renters Day.

“The members of the California Apartments Association and the property owners … they put so much pressure that we are not going to discuss the credit reform item today since it was taken off the agenda,” said Rivera about the removal of the item. “We need credit reform and we need it now. It’s the least they can do with everything that they’ve already started that is constantly displacing our own people.”

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