Morning Brief: Cracking Down On Rent Screening, Mental Health Awareness, And Dolly Parton
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.
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
- Current and former medical staff in the L.A. County jail system describe a working environment that is dysfunctional, abusive and detrimental to providing health care.
- Backers of an L.A. initiative to fund homeless services by taxing top-dollar property sales say they’ve collected enough signatures to qualify for the November ballot.
- May marks the beginning of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. This year's theme is Advancing Leaders Through Collaboration.
- Angelenos will get to hang artwork and pictures of loved ones on 72 oak trees as part of a public art installation in Grand Park to commemorate the start of Mental Health Awareness Month.
Before You Go ... Well Hello, Dolly... And Her Imagination Library
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.