A few months back I interviewed Kerry Morrison, executive director of Hollywood Business Improvement District, on the Community Care Facilities Ordinance proposed by City of Los Angeles Councilmember Mitchell Englander. To be honest, the Community Care Facilities Ordinance is such a dumb idea, because anything that would reduce affordable housing is flat out stupid, I thought anyone with even a little common sense would stop this from moving forward! Sadly, even dumb ideas sometimes move forward, which is why we NEED YOUR HELP!
In brief, the Community Care Facilities Ordinance requires that in a neighborhood zoned for single family homes and duplexes a home can have only one lease. If a home has two or more leases, such as where two families are sharing or where a person with disabilities is living in shared housing, the ordinance would categorize the home as a “boarding house.” Under current law, boarding houses are prohibited in residential zones. Thus, by categorizing all homes with multiple leases as boarding houses, the ordinance would eliminate shared housing in these residential zones.
The elimination of shared housing in residential zones would fall most heavily on people with disabilities for whom shared housing provides the best and most prevalent opportunity to live independently. Over 250 units of government-subsidized shared housing for people with disabilities would be eliminated under this proposal. By requiring that they be on only one lease, the ordinance either eliminates the housing (federal programs require separate leases for shared housing), or requires everyone who is sharing to be on one lease. Putting everyone on one lease puts a family at the mercy of a total stranger –landlords could evict one tenant based on the behavior of the co-tenant.
The ordinance would also devastate working families. In Los Angeles, over 43,000 families share housing in single family homes. Families share to make housing more affordable, to live in safer neighborhoods and to allow their children to attend better schools. Much of that shared housing is in residential zones. The proposed ordinance would eliminate this shared housing or require that they share one lease, making them vulnerable to eviction.
The following is taken from a letter from Corporation for Supportive Housing to Honorable Council President Wesson. Read the entire letter here.
The ordinance would exacerbate crime, rather than reduce it.
Given that homeless probationers and parolees are seven times more likely to recidivate than people who are housed, this ordinance reinforces a vicious cycle of incarceration and homelessness and threatens public safety. This ordinance would decrease opportunities for people with a history of incarceration from accessing housing, even though studies show that criminal history is not a predictor for transience or crime in a community. Conversely, homelessness increases an individual’s risk of arrest or re-arrest, often for quality of life crimes. Since sleeping on L.A. streets is illegal, for example, people experiencing homelessness would be twice-damned: they’ll have a record because they have no place to sleep and that record would become the reason they’ll have fewer places to sleep. The Council of State Governments has said, “Without stable housing, individuals [reentering communities from prison or jail] have a much harder time accessing employment, substance abuse treatment and other support services, and making or restoring connections with community resources and positive social networks.” Barring access to housing would only increase recidivism.
The CCFO would not close problematic homes.
The CCFO would require the Department of Building and Safety to develop a system of “lease police” that would either require landlords to show leases (even if verbal) in response to neighbor complaint. The CCFO will not deter bad actors who will most likely place all residents under a single rental agreement to skirt this law, or who will commit yet another violation of City law aside from laws they are already violating, knowing the City has no resources to enforce. Indeed, the CCFO will not give City staff more resources to enforce well-established City laws or the CCFO.
The CCFO would severely decrease, rather than increase, housing opportunities.
Proponents of the CCFO argue the ordinance would increase housing opportunities for people with disabilities. Nothing could be further from the truth. While the ordinance allows for some licensed facilities to exist by right in single family zones, licensed facilities are institutions, not housing. They are intended to offer care and supervision to people with severe disabilities, usually temporarily, when those individuals cannot live independently. Over 20 years ago, the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Supreme Court demanded all jurisdictions promote the right of people with disabilities to live as independently as possible in homes of their choice. The Court ruled jurisdictions offering people with disabilities no other option but institutionalization violate principles of the ADA and the Constitution. The CCFO would impact programs intended to give people with disabilities greater access to housing that cannot be, and should not be, subject to licensure, as they do not provide care and supervision.
The CCFO would cost taxpayers millions.
Enforcement of the CCFO would cost the City millions, without any additional resources added to the City budget. Defending multiple CCFO lawsuits would impose costs, the Department of Building and Safety staff would have to increase to respond to neighbor complaints, the Planning Department has admitted it would have to add staff to process conditional use permits, and costs of increased homelessness to taxpayers would be significant.
More importantly, the CCFO would put in jeopardy the City’s federal housing funds. As more thoroughly explained in the attached letter from Disability Rights California (DRC), by enacting severe restrictions on people with disabilities, these provisions would write into law principles long ago abandoned: that Angelinos with disabilities can only live in certain neighborhoods or in institutions. Because the City is legally required to further fair housing rights to receive federal housing funds, because the record on this ordinance is replete with intent to eliminate sober living facilities, and because the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has signaled its belief that this ordinance is illegal by suing the City of San Jacinto for a very similar ordinance, this ordinance could cause HUD and DOJ to withhold vital housing funds.
WE NEED YOUR HELP!!!
The bad news is this coming up for a vote soon. The good news is majority of the council are still undecided so your voice is needed more than ever! For more information and updates please visit stopccfo.org. To email your council member directly click here. The United Way of Greater Los Angeles created a cool form that aut0-poplulates a draft email for you. To send an email to the council click here.
The only way a dumb law like the Community Care Facilities Ordinance can pass is if we all do nothing! Please tell Los Angeles’s City Council the Community Care Facilities Ordinance is not a good idea!