SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California’s attorney general is putting a new emphasis on trying to
alleviate the state’s seemingly intractable affordable housing problem.
This includes creating a “strike force” of lawyers to focus on tenant
protections and related issues.
Attorney General Rob Bonta said the strike force will draw on attorneys from four existing sections within the state Department of Justice. He noted Wednesday that a new law increases his authority to enforce state housing and zoning laws. That includes the added authority to sue if local governments don’t boost their housing supply, including fair and affordable housing and rental properties.
This new strike force however cannot help individuals. By law, the attorney general cannot represent one person at a time. People like Jasmine McIntyre.
She's a business owner who said she was wrongfully evicted from her apartment during the pandemic's eviction moratorium.
“I had to swallow my pride a lot and just be like, 'you know what you need help,” she said.
She's floating from one friend's couch to the next right now.
“I'm not gonna lie, it really set me back with my mental health," She said. "I got to a really, really dark place over this.
"As a landlord, it's just you're given this SERA2 program, you guys have to accept it," she explained. "Like how can you just deny someone's application, and they have the 25% to pay you.”
While the attorney general can't help her specifically, if multiple individuals complain about the same company or landlord then the attorney general's office can represent them.
The strikeforce aims to enforce state laws that seek to create more affordable housing and hold cities that try to get in the way accountable.
A spokesperson from the attorney general's office said, "the Strike Force will enforce state laws where those laws require local agencies to take affirmative steps to increase housing. This includes new laws such as SB 9, which aims to streamline the process to increase housing in areas zoned otherwise, among others."
In addition to the strike force, Bonta also created a portal where landlords and tenants alike can go for resources, for example, what kind of legal help you can get.
Bonta is also going to hold a series of roundtables with tenants from across the state.