Residents, business owners protest large rent increases in Inglewood

INGLEWOOD, Calif. (KABC) -- Inglewood residents protested rent hikes at City Hall Tuesday afternoon.

Concerned residents, business owners and community groups showed up to the council chambers to urge city leaders to take action. Members of the Uplift Inglewood Coalition said renters and business owners are getting hit with steep rent increases on short notice.

One resident took to Twitter last month, positing a notice he got from his landlord of a $1,500 rent increase. That post went viral, but many others have rent-increase nightmare stories of their own.

"(I was paying) $1,335 at the time and the new rent would go to minimally $1,995, if I accepted a 12-month lease," Kish Lewis said.

According to Uplift Inglewood, 64 percent of residents are renters and the median household income is $44,000. That's 20 percent lower than the average for Los Angeles County and housing costs are already up 16 percent over the last two years.

The coalition gave city leaders a rent stabilization charter amendment Tuesday, calling for a roughly 5 percent cap on yearly rent increases for buildings with four or more units.

"So the idea is to protect our residents, but still allow our regular moms and pops and landlords to make a fair rate of return for their rent so that they can put their kids through college," said D'artagnan Scorza, with Uplift Inglewood Coalition.

Without rent stabilization in place, they fear longtime residents and local businesses will continue to be displaced.

"I'm a single mom. It doesn't mean that I'm uneducated. It doesn't mean that I don't care about my community. It doesn't mean that I am anti-growth or development in any way, shape or form. But when you're forcing the residents who are here out - you can't lie and say that you're creating jobs for the community because the people in the community can't afford to live here," Lewis said.

Mayor James C. Butts said the issue isn't just affecting Inglewood, but residents statewide.

"The issue of rent is a statewide issue and we take it seriously. What we're going to do is make sure that people aren't gouged and that people aren't forced en masse out of apartments because they find the city of Inglewood desirable to invest in," Butts said.

He added that the council is considering a proposal that would require relocation payments for renters who face large increases. He also said they will consider putting forth a rent stabilization ordinance within the next two weeks.
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