Fight Against a Rent Increase (your deadline is Friday morning)

I got a letter from CES telling me that a 4-month moratorium on rent increases is coming up for a vote of the City Council of Los Angeles. The vote is tomorrow, May 7th, 10:00 AM, and they’re asking people to show up.

Please contact your council representative (or all of them) explaining why you cannot handle a rent increase. The inflation rate has been effectively negative, and wages have declined. People need a reprieve. See the link above for full details and instructions on sending a letter.

2 thoughts on “Fight Against a Rent Increase (your deadline is Friday morning)

  1. Here’s my letter you can use as a sample:

    Dear Councilmember:

    Please vote to stop rent increases.

    We have had no inflation for over a year. The cost of being a landlord has not increased.

    Unemployment is sky-high, especially in working class communities where most people are renters in older units.

    We had a decade of economic gains lost. We’re back to where we were in 2000, but we’ve still had inflation. We’re actually behind in a big way. Generations of hope have been dashed, but people are still trying to move forward, and need assistance.

    While the real estate market has been deflating, the rental market has declined only a little bit, due to increasing demand for rentals.

    The city is trying to set up a deal to lease a large plot of land to Eli Broad for only $1 a year. Why do billionaires land speculators get sweetheart rent deals to warehouse their valuable art collections, while those of us who have regular jobs and rent our homes get the shaft?

  2. Here’s an email going around by John Imani about this situation:

    Class Struggles in Los Angeles 2010

    May 5th, 2010

    Before the HCED of the City Council of Los Angeles a motion made to place a 1 year moratorium on rent increases by Councilman Alarcon and amended by Councilman Herb Wesson of the 10th District to limit the moratorium to 4 months (and a possible 2 extra months) passed with a notable exception of Jan Perry of the 9th District. The motion will now go before the full City Council.

    On one side stood the landlords; the big and, especially, the small given their space to speak and be cheered rather wildly by the crowd of supporters. They explained what hardships such a moratorium would bring them. And in truth, their inability to raise rents would mean, everything else being equal, their inability to improve their property. In counter to this there is a law that allows the landlords to pass on the costs of such improvements to the renter (CITE?). In counter to that while it is true that the freeze would impair such landlords who do pass on increases in rent into improvements in property, the landlords would be vastly outnumbered by those who would be hurt if such a suspension of rent increase were not put into place. In addition to that, Mr Wesson advised that due to the crisis and the causing and resulting decline in the ‘value’ of such residential property that the coming re-assessment (for purpose of property taxes) that these landlords would be receiving a tax decrease upon their properties.

    This crisis is hurting almost all but it is inflicting greater wounds upon those of us who have no property, those of us who have nothing but their ability to work, those of us standing on the other side of the city council chambers, facing up to the owners who seek to further increase their livelihood at the expense of those of us who, in truth, have nothing more to give.

    Here is the rub. The landlords bring with them two weapons which they are in no way hesitant to use. They bring with them the ability to make political contributions for or against elected officials who stand again for office. Further, they bring an almost certainty of these very same people exercising their personal franchise to cast a vote for or against this or that politician or would-be-politician. And lastly, they are organized as they demonstrated with strategically placed in the back of the room cheerleaders who began (and clapped to the end) when one of them spoke. Arrayed against these are us. Who are we? We are many. We are many more than them. What do we have? Nothing. Nothing, that is, that we can fork over to the political cash-wagons of this or that politician. Where is our power, in this arena? Many, though not all, also have the right to vote but do so at a percentage far les than our adversaries.

    We must run comrades for political office who will stand up not only for those who vote for them but also those who cannot vote for them. This last we cannot, as yet, immediately do anything about. But we can do something about those who could vote for our representative, but in the past have not exercised their right to vote. These comrades know their interests which is nothing but our interest but have not been inspired by any candidate to make the efforts to not only vote but also to impress this urgency upon their friends, their relatives and, most importantly, themselves.

    Our candidate must be one of us. He/she must be directly responsible to us and only us just as the candidates of wealth are answerable to those who fund their campaigns. He/she ought take this position at a workingman’s wage, say $40,000 which is approximately the yearly total of a ‘union-waged’ position paying $20/hr with all above that allocated to a fund for either political or social purposes aimed at improving the lives of the poor and workers receiving wages up to that of a ‘union wage’. This candidate ust also articulate, advocate and advance the three necessaries: 1.) the right to a job for all wanting to work at a ‘union-wage’: 2.) The right to housing and an end to involuntary homelessness; 3.) the right to free and quality health-care; 4.) the right to free education up to the person’s ability; 5.) the right to participate in real job-training so as to dramatically improve the skill levels of the unemployed, the underemployed and, those who are for now, the unemployables; and, 6.) the right of a worker to go to where he/she can best provide for themselves and their families. Under NAFTA the labor-power of workers is the only commodity upon which are placed restrictions, limitations and denial of entry at the US/Mexico border.

    There is a reason all of these things are necessary and there is a reason that all of these things can be done. As to the first, this crisis is not about housing, it is about the failure of an economic system in which one can be denied work by those that own the means-of-work. Why are workers denied jobs? Because the owners can no longer make money on them. Why can the bosses no longer make money on the workers? There are two answers which amount to but different sides of the same equation: 1.) The capitalists can produce the same product at a different place with workers whose existing standard of living requires a lesser wage and, therefore, these jobs are exported to low-wage areas and the goods they make are sent back here to be purchased by workers who no longer have the ability to purchase them save through debt; and, 2.) The capitalists, even without the export of jobs to low-wage areas, find that the productivity of even these slightly-relatively-better-paid workers is such that, on a market-wide level, demand (i.e. need or want backed by the ability to purchase (i.e. through sale of the ability to work is the workers only source of ‘effective demand’ )) is sated and swamped and workers find, first, that their hours (and paychecks) are shrinking; and, secondly, that they or their fellow workers are laid off and join the ranks of the unemployed, capitalism’s ‘reserve army of labor’ while the ‘fortunate’ ones who retain their positions are put the strain on and abide without protest for fear of also losing their jobs. The productivity of labor, the ability to add value through human creativity, the ability to produce a product in less and less time, these things ought be utilized such that they reduce the amount of time that people must work; instead, this natural ‘god-given’ ability, in a system where the objective is not the benefit of the producers but the profit of the owners, is used to expel (fire) workers from the workforce. A vicious not circle but downward spiral then ensues wherein because one is laid off the product of the other that he/she would have purchased goes wanting and the other find soon that his/her services are no longer required. Etc. Etc. Etc. Dominoes lined up in a row each one the victim of the fall; each one the cause of its next to fall.

    This is insane. All that the construction, repair, invention of anything takes is 1.) laborers, of which there are many; 2.) resources, of which labor and the land can provide; and, 3.) Sustenance which again can be produced by labor out of the bounty that nature has provided us and which stands in jeopardy just so because of an economic system that values profits over men and women, that regards profits above even the land which the seekers of individual wealth are day-by-day despoiling and destroying. For our own survival we must take charge of our lives from those who value us only as long as they can make money on our labor. Money, by the way, is a myth. It is a sleight-of-hand that disguises where it is that real value is produced and has the potential to be produced. This fact is proved by the fact that (at the direction of its chairman, Ben Bernanke and Secretary of the Treasury, Paulson, and President George Bush) the Federal Reserve produced $750 billion out of thin air to give to faltering financial companies such as AIG, Goldman-Sachs, Merrill-Lynch, Bank of America, etc. Money is nothing; labor is all.

    While none of these things can be advanced and enacted solely at the city council level, that does not mean that we ought not contest there. For there real decisions, as this battle over rent increases, affecting real people are made and made daily. This is a battle over the allegiance of the civil authorities as to whether they support the landlords or the land-renters. Should we not exercise the constitutional rights we have (for as long as we have them) to change the Constitution and add amendments that will “provide for the general welfare” of the residents of this geographical area, then the shame will be on us for ‘they got the guns, we got the numbers”. They got the power.but we got the votes. If we can get them. If we can find, support and elect these pawn-pushers of power at this lower level it can provide the model of the masses in motion for our own interests so as to contest at the state, national and world-wide levels of power.


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