A coalition of housing activists and renters, including a group from the effort to expand rent control statewide, took over Promenade N at Ocean Blvd in Long Beach on Tuesday to protest eviction attorney Dennis Block and his anti-rent control seminar at a trade show hosted by the Apartment Owners Association of California (AOAC).
“Dennis Block gleefully helps evict families from their homes using every legal loophole he can find, despite our state going through a housing and displacement crisis. Now he’s teaching others how to fight rent control. It’s despicable,” said Norberto Lopez, community organizer for Housing Long Beach, one of the groups participating in the protest.
Block is a notorious eviction attorney who boasts that he’s helped evict more than 175,000 tenants since 1976. He specializes in helping landlords evict tenants in rent-stabilized apartments. Block vehemently opposes the grassroots movement to repeal the anti-rent control law known as the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act. If the law is repealed, it would allow local communities to expand rent control.
“Long Beach has a 60% renter population and its residents overwhelmingly support initiatives like rent control and just cause evictions. As advocacy and community groups, we need to let the apartment association know that they cannot come into our backyard and plot how to increase rents, how to gentrify, and how to displace people against their will,” said Jonaya Chadwick, a resident in Long Beach fighting against her displacement after living in her apartment unit for 19 years.
At the protest today were renters and housing advocates from the Long Beach Tenants Union, Democratic Socialists of America- LB Chapter, Long Beach Residents Empowered, Housing Long Beach, Answer Coalition, Anakbayan- Long Beach, ACCE, Los Angeles Tenants Union, Housing is a Human Right, Greater Long Beach Interfaith Community Organization, and Gray Panthers.
“Displacing residents and families with people with higher incomes is not helping the state’s housing crisis, it’s worsening it. It’s just tossing the problem to the state’s lower income residents. The AOAC ought to be spending its time trying to find ways to build more housing, or keep people in their homes, and not be focusing on kicking families out on the streets. Let’s expand rent control this November and get AOAC to pay attention to their tenants,” said Anayensy Cruz, a current CSULB student whom was displaced from her home after 21 years living there.