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March 29, 2009

Congressional Hearings Held in Los Angeles to Address the Area’s Housing Crisis

 

The crowd fills the gymnasium at Los Angeles Southwest College for the Congressional hearing on LA’s housing crisis.
 

Giant Sign Outside LA Southwest College announces the Congressional housing hearing.
On a beautiful sunny Los Angeles spring day, hundreds of people packed the Los Angeles Southwest College gymnasium on Saturday, March 28, 2009, to hear about the gloomy forecast tenants and homeowners face.

The occasion was a Congressional field hearing of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity, chaired by Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA).. Rep. Waters was joined by Rep. Dianne Watson (D-CA).

The purpose of the hearing was to examine public and affordable housing needs in Los Angeles specifically, foreclosures, HUD subsidized housing, Section 8 rental subsidies and public housing.

 

Representatives Maxine Waters (D-LA) and Diane Watson preside over the Congressional housing hearing.
Congresswoman Waters said: “Families need stable housing, and during times of economic downturn, many people feel particularly vulnerable and anxious about their housing. I organized this hearing to bring together those hurt in the housing crisis and those who can help, and to help guide Congress as we take the next steps to help keep families in their homes and mortgage predators out of the markets.”

One of those invited to testify by Rep. Waters was CES Executive Director Larry Gross. In response to the large number of tenants being evicted by banks foreclosing on multi-family rental properties, Gross told the committee: “Tenants who pay rent on time – have done nothing wrong, but now their lives are totally up-ended. Because banks just want them out. Yet, these banks had no problem begging Congress to bail them out with hundreds of billions of dollars — paid for by these tenants and other taxpayers. These banks should be prohibited from unfairly evicting the people who are paying for their corporate welfare.”

Gross urged Congress to provide more funds to renew all project-based Section 8 contracts and Section 8 voucher contracts, provide additional Section 8 vouchers and support HUD tenant organizing, as well as to clarify HUD regulations to allow state and local governments to enact laws to provide additional protections, such as for evictions, to tenants living in government assisted housing.

 

CES Executive Director testifying at the Congressional housing hearing (from left to right):
Susie Shannon, Housing Advocate, LA Coalition to End Hunger and Homelessness; Larry Gross, and Minelle Johnson, a LA Section 8 voucher recipient.

 

CES HUD and Section 8 tenants attending the hearing came from Morton Gardens Apartments (Echo Park), La Villa Hermosa (South LA), Turner Apartments (South LA) and Van Nuys Apartments (Downtown LA).

Other groups turning out their members or having representatives attend included LA Coalition to End Hunger and Homelessness, LACAN, POWER, Unión de Vecinos, ACORN, SAJE, Public Counsel, Legal Aid Foundation of LA, Neighborhood Legal Services of LA County and SCANPH.

 
Turner Apartments tenants (l-r):
Bertha Scott and Gray Scott
La Villa Hermosa Apartments tenants (l-r):
Donald Jackson, Lois Lavan, Homer Neal
Morton Gardens Apartments tenants (l-r):
Dulce Pena and Bertha Cardenas

 

Congresswoman Maxine Waters takes a moment to talk with CES representatives at the Congressional hearing (from left to right): CES Tenant Organizer Joel Montano, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, CES Van Nuys Apartments tenant leader James “Doc” Bethard, CES Executive Director Larry Gross, CES Turner Apartments tenant leader and Rep. Waters’ constituent Bertha Scott.

 

Click Here to read CES' testimony given to Congressional Housing Subcommittee.


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