Fighting Slum Housing
A toddler wakes up with a cockroach lodged in their ear. Cat-sized rats chew through the feeding tubes of a young girl with cystic fibrosis. Conga lines of roaches parade through a house in broad daylight. Leaky pipes and constant moisture breed vast colonies of mold. Inadequately maintained plumbing backs up, causing overflows of sewage. Lead paint chips and flakes, exposing children to lead dust. Walls, ceilings and floors are in severe disrepair – even to the point of collapse.
It is unfathomable that we allow slum housing in 21st century Los Angeles. But we do. Most often, slum housing tenants are low-income people of color, immigrants, and people with disabilities who routinely face the most blatant forms of housing discrimination.
Inner City Law Center combats slum housing conditions in Los Angeles by combining education, organizing, and litigation against slumlords who take advantage of tenants with limited housing options.
Do you live in a rent-control building with dangerous or harmful conditions?
Have you or your children suffered injuries or illness as a result of these conditions?
Is your landlord not responding to requests or refusing to make necessary repairs?
Are you being sexually harassed or intimidated by your landlord or building manager as a result of speaking out?
Every year, ICLC’s Slum Housing Litigation Team recovers millions in damages for tenants and families living in slum housing conditions.
No one should have to live in deplorable conditions.
Everyone deserves a clean, safe and decent place to live. But here in Los Angeles, thousands of children and families live in slum conditions – and have the physical and emotional scars to prove it. In 2011, the United States Census Bureau surveyed 1,708,600 renter-occupied units in Los Angeles and Long Beach and found 449,100 infested with cockroaches, 35,500 infested with rats, and 46,400 with severe plumbing, heating, electricity, or upkeep issues.
Far too often, people are forced to live in unhealthy and unsafe housing conditions that fail to comply with state and local building safety and health laws. By empowering tenants to stand up for their rights, ICLC improves the quality of life for our most vulnerable neighbors – low-income families, disenfranchised people of color, the elderly and disabled, veterans and immigrants.
We educate landlords, through litigation if necessary, on their responsibilities and the steps that must be taken to turn their slums into healthy homes.
Slum rents are blood money. As former City Attorney Ira Reiner said, “We aren’t talking about landlords who are just in over their heads, unable to maintain a building properly. . . We are talking about men in the slum business. Men who buy slums and maintain slums . . . People who deal in blood money.” ICLC stops slumlords from causing and profiting from this human misery. We and our pro bono partners hold property owners accountable. We force them to repair their buildings, to comply with health and safety laws, and to compensate tenants who have suffered from unsafe, unsanitary, and dangerous housing.
Tenants have rights.
Inner City Law Center’s tenant organizers visit hundreds of apartment units every month, educating tenants about their rights and responsibilities. We help tenants understand the direct connection between housing and health, provide information and materials necessary to empower tenants to assert their right to habitable housing conditions, and help with the process of filing health and safety code complaints with landlords and the Los Angeles County Health Departments. We also provide landlords with information about their responsibilities and various resources and programs, attempting to work with them to voluntarily repair their buildings.