Affordable housing is getting tougher to find in Venice. In fact, several of the homeless people I’ve spoken to here used to live under permanent roofs, and decided to stay in the area because they still consider Venice to be their home.
On Thursday, The Argonaut reported that, after a two-year legal battle, residents of Breezes del Mar in Oakwood have been able to retain 246 units of affordable, family housing. Brandon Weiss, an attorney with Public Counsel who represented the tenants, credited them for their persistence.
"We were their legal representatives, but they really drove the bus and fought for what they believed in," Weiss said. "I think this shows that it’s possible for tenants to stand up for what they think is right."
At issue was the fact that the owner of the property, GH Capital, was seeking to prepay its HUD subsidized mortgages, which could have led to the loss of the tenants’ Section 8 government subsidized housing. Now the tenants have their affordable housing locked in for 20 years with no current tenants facing the loss of their homes.
The key to the settlement was that both parties could save face. The landlord could claim that there was never an intent to evict low-income tenants, while the tenants got real protection.
I can’t think of a beach community along Santa Monica Bay with as much diversity as Venice, a quality worth preserving. The tenant victory at Breezes del Mar is inspirational. Twice, I’ve had to battle different landlords to keep my own home here. If you find yourself in a similar fight, start by contacting the Los Angeles Housing Department. Knowledgeable counselors offer free advice that can help you stay in Venice.