Whenever something horrific happens, there is a natural temptation for elected officials to react by passing a new law, even if it may have unintended consequences.
In reaction to a Dec. 2 shooting of four people at a Northridge home being used as a boarding house, LA City Councilmember Mitch Englander has been pushing to fast track a law that would change the definition of a boarding house. The proposed ordinance would not allow multiple leases in the same unit or house. Currently, “boarding homes are now allowed in some residential zones that have multi-family housing” according to Greg Spiegel, director of public policy of the Inner City Law Center.
A broad coalition called “Stop the Community Care Facilities Ordinance” composed of more than 100 disability non-profits, legal services (including Bet Tzedek Legal Services), anti-poverty organizations, faith-based groups and chambers of commerce have joined together to defeat this bill, which would greatly reduce affordable, shared housing for many people, including college students, veterans, seniors and people with disabilities. Politics can indeed make strange bedfellows but in this case, the sheer breadth of the coalition demonstrates why this proposed change is bad public policy.
The City’s own Office of Disability has come out against this proposed ban, stating, “People with disabilities are more likely to live in group settings, and inadequate housing and housing instability pose a significantly greater harm to individuals with disabilities than to the general public. Therefore, any ordinance that limits group housing is of great concern to the disability community.”
Although the law would still allow state-licensed group homes to be located in residential areas, it would take away the ability for many creative housing solutions to continue across the city, from shared housing for seniors to having four adults with disabilities renting a home together and pooling the shared expenses.
And for those boarding homes which are dangerous, harbor criminals or which violate health and safety laws, there are already plenty of laws on the books to tackle those problems. Funding for more enforcement is what’s really needed here, not a wholesale ban on shared housing for those with few economic options.
Help stop this ban by following @StopCCFO on Twitter or liking their page on Facebook at StopCCFO-Coalition.