Op-Ed: For Housing as a Human Right

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By Aaron Kopperman

With the eviction moratorium ending in June, landlords are gearing up to kick out as many tenants as possible who can’t pay rent, to replace them with those who can. This will accelerate and worsen Santa Barbara’s already terrible and racist gentrification problem. As the comments section of any housing-related social media post will show you, it seems everyone knows there’s a housing problem here in SB,and everyone seems to have a solution. Conservatives want developer de-regulation, implying that the magical Free Market will solve the issue by the Law of Supply and Demand. Liberals want to allow developers to build more housing, implying that if more gets built, inevitably there will be more affordable housing. 

According to Mayor Murillo, nearly 60% of those who live in the City of Santa Barbara are renters. A much smaller percentage, even among homeowners, could be considered landlords/developers. Why, then, are both Liberal and Conservative solutions financially beneficial to developers, while the well-being of the majority of Santa Barbara residents is treated as an afterthought? 

There are plenty of so-called progressives here in Santa Barbara who rally local politicians to provide temporary band-aids, such as extending the COVID eviction moratorium, and forcing landlords to provide relocation assistance in cases of a no-fault eviction. These are victories, but do nothing to challenge the actual power landlords and developers hold, as made evident by their continued use of loopholes, even during the pandemic. We’ve heard countless stories of landlords “soft-evicting” tenants through inconveniences such as frequent “repairs”, claims of a family member needing to move in, and outright harassment. 

We don’t need more city council meetings begging for more band-aids. We need to make housing a human right, a fully de-commodified public good guaranteed to all.

For this to happen, we need a militant tenant movement to flex the power we do have over landlords/developers - people power. 

What this means is a massive number of tenants (like you and me!) willing to organize into tenant associations with their neighbors to bargain collectively with landlords. These local tenant associations can collectively use different tactics, including the withholding of rent, to flex some real power against abusive landlords. We at Santa Barbara Tenants Union are here to assist in the formation of tenant associations, and facilitate the bargaining process with direct guidance from tenants.

Historically, the biggest gains have been made not by asking for power, but by seizing it. 

There are over 65,000 tenants in Santa Barbara, and if all of us were to unite into a single fighting organization, we could stop every rent hike, every eviction, and every instance of landlord harassment and abuse. We could flex our people power to reduce the landlord lobby influence in local government, and rewrite every law to benefit us as tenants. This is only possible if more tenants join us and get active. 

Join the Santa Barbara Tenants Union if you want to become an active member of a fighting organization led and funded exclusively for and by tenants who wish to make housing a human right!

tinyURL.com/joinSBTU  /   sbtenantsunion@gmail.com


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74 Comments

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NostraChumash May 11, 2021 10:33 AM
Op-Ed: For Housing as a Human Right

A recent article in the Guardian, shows what one group of homeless persons did to help themselves, by building a "cob-village".
This is the exact idea encompassed in my plan, that I have been laughed at for suggesting over the last 5 years.
Read the article though..& what the people are saying...; "It's working".
I knew it would.

Ahchooo May 11, 2021 12:50 PM
Op-Ed: For Housing as a Human Right

Nostra, thanks for telling me about the cob village. I watched their video. Interesting. Some promising ideas there.

Babycakes May 11, 2021 08:52 AM
Op-Ed: For Housing as a Human Right

As KOHN1 said: Supply & demand. However, Mr. Kopperman interprets this simple and long-standing concept as Supply and D-E-M-A-N-D! This is much the same as described in another recent article "UCSB Group Demanding $900 Student Checks from University." Mr. Kopperman, you are not a victim, so stop demanding of us what you would not give. There truly are victims in this world, and you are not one of them.

NostraChumash May 10, 2021 03:31 PM
Op-Ed: For Housing as a Human Right

I think thusly;
Housing..is not a Human "right".
"Shelter" however, is..
The difference being, that one is proactive in having housing..
That is our "right".
I used to say at Casa Esperanza ;
"Use the Shelter to obtain Housing".

Seabird May 10, 2021 03:01 PM
Op-Ed: For Housing as a Human Right

I'm sorry, Aaron... what? I cannot find the point in this meandering piece. To create a tenant's association to make housing a human right for all? That's how it reads, but it makes no sense. You need an editor before attempting any more chest-pounding. You also need to study local rental laws, the VAST majority of which are already in favor of tenants. I've been a renter in SBC for over twenty years; while there is plenty that I don't agree with when it comes to certain landlords or property managers, I have had really great and reasonable landlords. *Also, housing will NEVER be a basic human right. Tenancy is a voluntary contract we enter into, wherein we agree to pay a fee in exchange for a place to live. Why on earth would someone agree to be a tenant at a property with known issues, or that they cannot afford, or with a landlord who is shady? Do your research BEFORE you rent. And if you cannot find suitable housing in Santa Barbara, do like me and move a little bit outside of SB where it is more reasonable. The world owes you nothing. You will learn this as you mature.

PitMix May 10, 2021 01:41 PM
Op-Ed: For Housing as a Human Right

I know that many people have gotten their slice of the good life, and they are not sympathetic to those that haven't, but this ridiculous system of having many of our service people live 35-70 miles away and commuting each day is not sustainable in the long term. If government wanted to help, they would encourage businesses to set up in places that have housing with tax breaks and such. But it is hard to know how that would work with the 3 heavyweights of UCSB, Sansum, and Cottage.

Voice of Reason May 10, 2021 04:13 PM
Op-Ed: For Housing as a Human Right

As just like that, poof, Pit no longer likes his own idea because it's associated with something the Orange Man did...

Voice of Reason May 10, 2021 03:26 PM
Op-Ed: For Housing as a Human Right

"If government wanted to help, they would encourage businesses to set up in places that have housing with tax breaks and such." Pit, that is a good idea and sounds very similar to Opportunity Zones.

dukemunson May 10, 2021 01:50 PM
Op-Ed: For Housing as a Human Right

Pitmix - Government is helping...it's just local state government (and just not ours). If you are a big company it makes no sense to set up shop in California at this point. Head to Florida or Texas or Tennessee or Colorado.

a-1620673442 May 10, 2021 12:04 PM
Op-Ed: For Housing as a Human Right

We can blame the Baby Boomers:
https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2020-01-05/are-baby-boomers-ruining-housing-market

a-1620527355 May 08, 2021 07:29 PM
Op-Ed: For Housing as a Human Right

Wow. I can't imagine a worse tenant than the OP. Demands a free place to live in the town in which he wants to live in? I guess that things could be worse, you could be married to him...

dukemunson May 10, 2021 10:52 AM
Op-Ed: For Housing as a Human Right

“Seizing power... for a public good guaranteed to all”...

Kind of sounds like, free housing... no?

PitMix May 10, 2021 09:37 AM
Op-Ed: For Housing as a Human Right

Can't you figure a way to attack Aaron without resorting to lies? I didn't see any demand for a free place in the op-ed.

Shame May 08, 2021 08:11 AM
Op-Ed: For Housing as a Human Right

I was looking to buy a cheaper place outside of Las Vegas. I found a whole neighborhood of empty newer nice places when I asked a realtor about them she told me the have all been nought by Chinese investors and left empty.

Shame May 08, 2021 07:56 AM
Op-Ed: For Housing as a Human Right

This is a message for all did people not notice OP comments For this to happen, we need a militant tenant movement to flex the power we do have over landlords/developers - people power. Historically, the biggest gains have been made not by asking for power, but by seizing It. The militant groups in Seattle going through streets demanding people to get out of their homes and give them to those who need them is not something wonderful Santa Barbara need to encourage.

Shame May 08, 2021 07:47 AM
Op-Ed: For Housing as a Human Right

My aunt is in her 80. Lives in her garage and a side room and rents out her home to survive. Her property taxes, mortgage and insurance are very high. Her gardners now want $25 an hour to keep up her property which is not fancy or big. Not to mention the city raises water rates often. Her renters have not paid her rent for months. One is on unemployment the other working from home so still being paid so yes they are getting 2 checks they seem to go camping and traveling yet she can’t get them to pay rent due to the eviction moratorium. Why should my aunt risk loosing her home she has worked long and hard to keep. There are many sides to these stories not all Santa Barbara landlords are rich.

a-1620511573 May 08, 2021 03:06 PM
Op-Ed: For Housing as a Human Right

There are many cases like Shame’s aunt. There are also greedy landlords. We need laws and enforcement to work for all people, not just landlords, not just tenants. Seems obvious, but things rarely work out the way they should.

FernaldPoint93108 May 08, 2021 07:29 AM
Op-Ed: For Housing as a Human Right

Ironically the Op-Ed poster moved from low rent Bakersfield to live in high rent Santa Barbara. His Facebook page encourages defunding the police, banning guns, eliminating all student debt, and declaring racism a public health emergency.

dukemunson May 10, 2021 01:53 PM
Op-Ed: For Housing as a Human Right

Should I demand that the LARK charge the same prices as KFC? Should Audi cost the same as a KIA? It's a choice...Aaron can get a job in Bakersfield where he is probably buying a house in 3-5 years. This isn't a shock that Santa Barbara is expensive...the shock is people demanding the very best be subsidized for them.

dukemunson May 10, 2021 01:46 PM
Op-Ed: For Housing as a Human Right

Pitmix - I can't believe I'm saying this, but...YES...I agree with you... overpopulation is the long term problem facing us all.

As for housing, again...free market capitalism does work, and is working...it's just not working the way a 20 year old from Bakersfield wants it to be working. It's silly to think you can simply move to a highly desirably (and as such expensive spot) and expect to pay the same rent as the wildly less desirable place you are coming from. It's not only wildly silly and narcissitic...it's downright ridiculous. There is a finite amount of housing in SB...

And again, as per the OP "seize power to make housing a human right, a fully de-commodified public good guaranteed to all." So you are right...not asking for free stuff...DEMANDING IT!!

PitMix May 10, 2021 01:34 PM
Op-Ed: For Housing as a Human Right

Duke, still not asking for free stuff. Aaron is just saying that free-market capitalism doesn't work very well in areas where people can create monopolies or it isn't a commodity that can be avoided like eating, breathing, or living. Personally I feel that overpopulation has made many of these problems much worse, but I don't know of a positive solution to that.

dukemunson May 10, 2021 10:48 AM
Op-Ed: For Housing as a Human Right

Pit - well, the quote is:

We need to make housing a human right, a fully de-commodified public good guaranteed to all.

How do you read that? I read that as a guy who chose a stunning spot to go to school and now wants to be subsidised to stay here forever...

dukemunson May 08, 2021 07:46 AM
Op-Ed: For Housing as a Human Right

Well... If you are going to demand/seize free education and housing... definitely makes more sense to demand it of UCSB and Santa Barbara than Cal State Bakersfield....

Roger May 08, 2021 05:58 AM
Op-Ed: For Housing as a Human Right

Most of you enjoy having service workers aka slaves pampering you then going back to Bakersfield at the end of their shifts some of us choose to stay retire or become disabled.. Just like everyone else what you want and what you get are 2 different things this is a FREE COUNTRY If you don't like it move to Russia.

AwareHuman May 07, 2021 11:35 PM
Op-Ed: For Housing as a Human Right

Fact is many landlords are greedy and buy multiple properties, then fail to maintain their bounty, or do the bare minimum. They collect large damage deposits which they are loathe to return. They can collect interest on this largesse. Tenants cannot. Fairness and decency ate sorely lacking....if you have an honorable , local owner....count your blessing. A tenant who pays their rent regularly and honors the rules of the lease should be treated with respect, and repairs & maintenance not deferred
Again, if you're are lucky ,& in a rarefied situation, please refrain from nasty comments about moving to Fresno . Greed is what allows Santa Barbara from being a real community. The wealthy rule and are happily being snarky & judgmental . Making those who lack a hefty cash flow feel even worse is unkind and results in a very splintered NONcommunity. Next time your auto needs a repair, thank the mechanic who probably drives here from Lompoc....or the clerk at the grocery store who surely struggles to pay rent in SB....and so on. What if they all move to Fresno? Who will do your hair, cook your restaurant food, provide for your clean streets, patrol those same streets and so on. We rely on one another, and WE must recognize & honor all denizens instead of insulting the ones who are not Uber wealthy. If there's a huge natural disaster, many of the functional (not an oxymoron) homeless will have the survival skills & knowledge you will need. The tourists won't . So, be respectful and try some kindness. The Norwegians (in the top five again for happiness and health) have a word that guides their successful country and it means "no one is beneath me or above me.". That is wise, and true...but not acknowledged here. A tenant organization, therefore, is a necessity.

CoastWatch May 08, 2021 09:06 AM
Op-Ed: For Housing as a Human Right

@AWARE- Not sure if you are "aware", but auto mechanics and other skilled trades make a livable and significant wages... It's the recent "graduates" from UCSB whose parents paid for their "education college experience" and now that they are in the REAL WORLD, expect entitlements like high paying jobs, a new car, wardrobe, and afford rent in the area they WANT to stay in....base simply on a piece of paper that states a B.A. or Master Degree... It appears as if the OP is of a similar background, he has been taught that entitlements are part of life. What I don't get is that he is a white kid and state that the S.B. housing situation is "racist"... I guess that taught that in College too.

dukemunson May 08, 2021 07:37 AM
Op-Ed: For Housing as a Human Right

Aware - the problem is you aren’t factoring in (or considering) that Santa Barbara is a wildly desirable place to live... more so than Fresno or Bakersfield. Beautiful/desirable places cost more. It’s pretty straight forward. When I lived in London I would have loved to be in zone 1... Finances though dictated zone 4 and an hour plus travel time. Using your Norway example, rents in Oslo are dramatically higher than Trondheim. It’s life. Most people get to choose, there are tons of jobs available right now in places that are dramatically cheaper than Santa Barbara. But if you choose to live in Santa Barbara (as presumably we all do), it does come with correlating higher living expense. Such is the rub of enjoying (and living in) the American Riviera. I could move to Fresno or Phoenix and have a house that was twice the size and half the cost (with a pool and a new car to boot)... like a couple of friends I know... who are happy! But... they don’t have campus point or east beach. Keep your boat and quad...I’ll take our coast (and the correlating cost) over those toys (experienced in 112 degrees of course). There are much cheaper options 60 minutes away from places Like la Jolla or Presidio heights or zone 1 or the 16th arrondissement... one must choose what they want and value.

Roger May 07, 2021 08:33 PM
Op-Ed: For Housing as a Human Right

Wow there is going to be alot more homeless the poverty pimps will be revealed maybe they should move to Basersfield with the yuppies..

oops May 07, 2021 06:23 PM
Op-Ed: For Housing as a Human Right

you can't install artificial controls. The market place will eventually figure it out. If you can't afford to live here, find someplace you can, make a killing and come back if you so choose. There is no entitlement living in SB. Folks in other places enjoy their quality of life, people naturally acclimate to what works best.

OAITW May 07, 2021 06:08 PM
Op-Ed: For Housing as a Human Right

Renters such as Aaron need to have a shift in perception when it comes to landlords. Rather than viewing them as evil greedy people preying on the poor defenseless tenants, perhaps the should be viewed as benefactors who are the ones who make it possible for tenants to live in Santa Barbara. How many tenants would be able to buy the properties that they live in. How many have the long income history and high credit score that would qualify them for a mortgage. How many have the 20% down payment sitting in the bank. Renters choose to live in Santa Barbara, one of the most expensive real estate markets in the world. No one is forcing you to live here. It is your choice.

Andrea Smith May 07, 2021 05:37 PM
Op-Ed: For Housing as a Human Right

And, it's possible that once the unpaying renters are removed, many more units will open up and rents likely or hopefully will go down.

Andrea Smith May 07, 2021 05:36 PM
Op-Ed: For Housing as a Human Right

Yes, they are going to kick you out for someone who pays rent. It's a no brainer. You make enough on unemployment, likely more than you did before Covid so you should be able to pay, if you were able to pay before. There are plenty of jobs out there, businesses are having problems hiring so there are no more excuses. Pay your rent or you don't get to squat.

OGSB May 07, 2021 06:15 PM
Op-Ed: For Housing as a Human Right

Unemployment pays shit, unless you were making almost nothing to begin with, then maybe the extra $300 a week is more. Still not even close to enough to even rent a room in SB. I DO agree that if you don't pay your rent then you need to go... It's not a landlord's job to support you.

Andrea Smith May 07, 2021 05:38 PM
Op-Ed: For Housing as a Human Right

And PS I am a renter and I think it's ridiculous at this point considering how many jobs are out there, how much unemployment is paying, that anyone can't pay rent especially if they paid it before they got the extra $$$ from unemployment.

citizenSB May 07, 2021 04:56 PM
Op-Ed: For Housing as a Human Right

There is plenty of affordable housing --
Bakersfield -- average home price $160K average rent $1k/month.
If that is too expensive Wichita, Kansas -- average home price $60K rent $700/month.
If enough people moved out of Santa Barbara the prices would have to go down. Start a movement -- move out.

citizenSB May 10, 2021 07:55 AM
Op-Ed: For Housing as a Human Right

The are many places, including Bakersfield that you can live well on service jobs.
When I was a waitress in Santa Barbara I shared an apartment with others and did not have a car but life was good.

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