INGLEWOOD — Civic and city leaders are stepping up efforts to help residents survive rising rental costs in the city by cataloging increases of 25 percent or more and working with residents and property owners to help mitigate those challenges.
In an effort to stabilize rental costs, members of the civic group Uplift Inglewood Coalition met with residents Feb. 12 to help them complete surveys documenting rent increases of more than 25 percent.
Once city officials evaluate the surveys, they will work with residents and property owners to determine if the council members should adopt legislation to address tenant equity and protections.
During a previous Uplift Inglewood meeting, activists discussed several strategies that could make living affordable for longtime residents, including caps on rent increases in older buildings, incentives for first-time homebuyers, and zoning that sets aside affordable housing in new developments.
The issue surfaced after the announcement that the Hollywood Park football stadium would house the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers. Many advocates petitioned city officials to pass a rent control ordinance so longtime Inglewood residents will not be priced out of developments in the city.
Many residents see the Los Angeles Stadium and Entertainment District development as the spark for rising property values and rental costs in Inglewood. As a result, they say, rents are increasingly unaffordable for longtime residents.
One such resident, 77-year-old Shirley Miller, said she’s lived in the same one-bedroom apartment in Inglewood, paying $950 a month for the past 13 years until she received a 60-day notice, increasing her rent from $950 to $1,250.
“Going up $300 means I can pay the rent, but some of the bills have to go. I can’t pay rent and bills. It leaves me no wiggle room for groceries, for gas,” the retired nurse said.
“I enjoy the area I’m in. I’m close to my doctor, the pharmacy, the market, the gym. I’m so used to the area but if they continue to raise the rent, I can’t stay here.”
In January, community members rallied at City Hall in support of rent control — a demonstration sparked by a proposed 150 percent rent hike by an investment company that went viral on social media, catching the eye of Mayor James T. Butts Jr.
After Butts intervened, the rent increase was negotiated down to a 28 percent increase, from $1,150 to $1,475 a month — which Butts said is still significantly under the one-bedroom market rate of $1,800 in Inglewood.
Meanwhile, Butts said only a few people have shared their rent increase stories via the city’s online questionnaire.
“Last time I looked, there were only eight submissions, and it kind of belies the notion that this is a widespread increase,” he told residents after the Feb. 12 City Council meeting.
“If you’re not encouraged by the fact that we’re trying to study the problem to see if there needs to be some type of legislative intervention, I don’t know what else I can tell you because, you pay the rent every month,” he added.
Uplift Inglewood Coalition member Jelani Hendrix contends, however, that rent increases are impacting countless residents. That’s why they are volunteering to help residents, some who are senior citizens and others who are fearful of retaliation by their landlords.
To help those efforts, Uplift Inglewood Coalition members canvassed the neighborhood Feb. 9 to let renters know that they can take action.
“Everyone isn’t looking for this survey, so we want to bring the survey to your front door,” he said. “Everyone doesn’t have access to the internet.”
Butts said the rent increase questionnaire, which is available for 60 days, is simple and publicly accessible. It takes about five minutes to complete, officials said, including uploading a copy of the notice of rent increase and the tenant’s lease agreement on the city’s website.
“We set it up so that not only can you document your increase but you can give us the configuration of your apartment,” he said. “You can let us know, where you started and where you are.”
Officials expect to close the online portal to submit rent increase documentation by mid-March. The city will report their findings soon after that.
By John W. Davis