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Morning Brief: Cracking Down On Rent Screening, Mental Health Awareness, And Dolly Parton

An apartment for rent in Central Los Angeles. (Matt Tinoco/LAist)
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Good morning, L.A. It’s May 3.

As the pandemic wears on, L.A.’s housing crisis is getting more complicated.

Coronavirus shutdowns left many Angelenos without work, so state and local governments issued various rent relief programs for tenants. But some landlords say the programs simply foisted those financial hardships onto them.

To crack down on the possibility of unpaid rent, some landlords began  implementing stricter screening programs for would-be renters. Now, a few local lawmakers say those screenings are too harsh. 

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My colleague David Wagner reports that City Councilmembers Nithya Raman, Mike Bonin and Marqueece Harris-Dawson have put forward a motion seeking to ban landlords from screening tenants based on credit scores, eviction records, applications for rent relief and failure to pay rent during the pandemic, and to prohibit the use of algorithmic screening tools. 

“Unless we start chipping away at the various different systemic roadblocks to getting people off the street, we're never going to get through this [housing] crisis,” said Bonin.

The motion comes as some landlords refuse to take tenants with credit scores lower than 750, and demand to see pay stubs proving the applicant earns three times as much as the monthly rent.

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And while many applicants argue that credit scores don’t reflect the reality of their ability to pay rent, landlords say that they’ve been left to fend for themselves.

“My requirements have gone up because I've been put in that position by the government,” said Glendale landlord Sandra Chandler. “The government doesn't care if I can pay my mortgage. They don't care if I can eat. They don't care if I can pay for my bills. I have to protect myself.”

Keep reading for more on what’s happening in L.A., and stay safe out there.

What Else You Need To Know Today

Before You Go ... Well Hello, Dolly... And Her Imagination Library

Dolly Parton at a press conference at the InterContinental Sydney on November 10, 2011 in Sydney, Australia. (Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)
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Dolly Parton is known for many things. She’s a legendary songwriter and singer, a silver screen star, and a meme muse. Another initiative that’s dear to the iconic country artist’s heart is early literacy. Her Imagination Library sends free books to children ages 0 - 5, with an expert panel selecting the titles.

Now, California could be next on the list for the program.

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