Written by Peter Wang and Dominic Marziali
Photo by Helena Fu
The Housing Rights Center (HRC) gave a presentation on the services they provide underneath their contract with South Pasadena during the City Council meeting on Wednesday, October 18th. The South Pasadena City Council allotted an annual check of $10,000 to the HRC to help South Pasadena’s tenants that are affected by discrimination in unfair housing situations.
The HRC presentation focussed on clarifying how they dispute discrimination and promote fair housing in their presentation to the South Pasadena City Council. They provide assistance to tenants that are discriminated by skin color or disabilities.
Chancela Al-Mansour, Executive Director of the HRC, clarified that, “There are some serious habitability issues” as a result of rent increases, despite the positive perception of the quality of living in South Pasadena.
The city currently contracts the HRC, a nonprofit organization based in Pasadena, for services such as mediations between tenants and landlords to avoid litigation, and outreach programs to educate citizens on housing rights issues. The HRC has provided its services to 102 households in South Pasadena, and hosted two workshops with more planned. The HRC focuses on discrimination by skin color in housing and provide an in-depth training program for landlords and managers to educate them on fair housing practices and state laws, the attendance of which may be court-mandated following a case of housing rights violations. Under the county’s contract, the HRC provides more basic services; South Pasadena’s contract also covers workshops and mediation.
While outreach programs and mediation sessions are created to help tenants resolve issues with landlords, various tenants have cited intimidation as a reason against seeking assistance, fearing retaliation by their landlord, many of whom attend these sessions. A commenter on the issue relayed an example of this, as a tenant’s rent was increased by $200 because that tenant asked for the replacement of 24-year-old carpeting.
Srebalus restated that unfair rate increases were not adequately addressed by the City Council and its constituents. The city contracted the HRC in response to rent increases, but the HRC’s area of expertise is in anti-discrimination and fair housing, not rent control. In response to questions of the relevancy of rent increases, he displayed evidence that 37% of tenants he surveyed experienced a rate increase because they asked for services or repairs.
The council also plans to discuss a proposal for affordable housing in the future. Cited benefits of this proposal included an increase in revenue and greater developments, as seen in the effects of similar laws in neighboring cities.
The report presented by the HRC can be viewed online at http://www.southpasadenaca.gov/modules/showdocument.aspx?documentid=13944