David J. Epstein Program in Public Interest Law and Policy

UCLA Law Clinic Issues Groundbreaking Housing Crisis Report

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From left: UCLA Law Community Economic Development Clinic students Tate Harshbarger ’19, Cara McGraw ’18 and Brenda Martin Moya LL.M. ’19 were key members of the team that prepared the report “Priced Out, Pushed Out, Locked Out.”

 

Rising rents have caused unprecedented housing insecurity in Los Angeles County, according to an in-depth report that UCLA School of Law students and faculty prepared with attorneys at Public Counsel.

Released on June 10, the report, “Priced Out, Pushed Out, Locked Out,” details a persistent crisis in affordable housing and homelessness, and it asserts that permanent rent stabilization can immediately address housing instability throughout unincorporated areas of L.A. County.

Members of UCLA Law’s Community Economic Development Clinic and Public Counsel, a nonprofit law firm that works to solve pressing issues in and around Los Angeles, researched and drafted the report. They created it in partnership with the community-based organization Eastside LEADS and the Unincorporated Tenants United Coalition.

Scott Cummings, the Robert Henigson Professor of Legal Ethics at UCLA Law and founder of the CED Clinic, is the report’s lead researcher. Last fall, he taught the clinic with UCLA Law alumnus and lecturer Doug Smith ’13. They supervised UCLA Law students Tate Harshbarger ’19, Cara McGraw ’18 and Brenda Martin Moya LL.M. ’19, who were the report’s primary authors with Public Counsel attorneys Gregory Bonett ’15 and Katie McKeon and UCLA Ph.D. candidate in sociology Kyle Nelson.

In conducting the study, clinic participants interviewed more than a dozen tenants in unincorporated L.A. County and, with the support of the UCLA Law Empirical Research Group’s Henry Kim, analyzed 2010-17 data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, focusing on evictions, demographics and economic conditions. Their key findings:

  • Hundreds of thousands of tenants in unincorporated L.A. County have had nearly no protections against huge rent increases or unfair evictions for decades.
  • L.A. County has 10.2 million residents, about 1 million of whom live in unincorporated communities. Of those, 403,290 are renters. This is up 12% from 2010, while the number of owner-occupied units has gone down.
  • Among tenants in unincorporated L.A. County, 56% pay at least 30% of their income in rent; 31% pay at least half of their income in rent. These rates are among the nation’s highest.
  • Throughout L.A. County, such rent burdens disproportionately impact African American, Latinx, Native American and female tenants.
  • There have been 505,924 court evictions filed in L.A. County since 2010.
  • There has been a 52% spike in homelessness in L.A. County since 2010.

“Shelter is a basic human necessity. Yet housing has become so unaffordable in L.A. County that it has become a luxury — a privilege of wealth rather than the fundamental right for all it should be,” Cummings says. “The UCLA Law CED Clinic students were the driving force behind this report, showing how students can make a real difference in our city and deepening the skills and values they will carry forward into their careers to help people in need.”

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