March 4, 2021
Mayor Robert Garcia and Long Beach City Council
411 W. Ocean Blvd., 11th Floor
Long Beach, CA 90802
Re: Recommendations for Equitable Inclusion in the Long Beach Recovery Act (LBRA)
Dear Honorable Mayor and Members of the City Council,
On behalf of our respective communities, we thank you for your commitment to guiding Long Beach through an equitable and just recovery. With new resources on the horizon and a national spotlight on our city lifting up our vaccination work, now is the time to be bold in meeting the needs of the most vulnerable in our community.
The challenges ahead are not easy to address. Whether we are Black, Latinx, Filipino, Cambodian, seniors, young people, women, renters, homeowners, LGBTQ, disabled, immigrants, or frontline workers, we are all feeling the stress and hardship of this pandemic in different ways. Yet, we all want to see our neighborhoods and city thrive for future generations. The Long Beach Recovery Act (LBRA) is the opportunity for city leadership to ensure we build a more inclusive Long Beach and give every Long Beach resident the chance to live a healthy life.
To meet the moment and protect the most vulnerable in Long Beach, we ask that the Mayor and City Council include all of the following in the LBRA:
1. Funding for a Rental Housing Division: $700,000.00
In light of the rapidly changing housing landscape and complex changes to local, regional, state and federal housing laws, the City should establish a new Rental Housing Division within the Development Services Department to communicate with both tenants and landlords, issue objective bulletins about the laws, monitor and enforce renter protection laws, and centralize information and forms. This new division would be staffed by: one Division Officer (1 FTE), one Planner III (1 FTE), one Administrative, Analyst III (1 FTE), one Assistant Administrative Analyst I (1 FTE), one Clerk II (1 FTE), and one Deputy City Attorney (0.5 FTE). This would cost $700,000.00.
2. Additional Funding for Right to Counsel (RTC): $3,664,000.00
Long Beach dedicated $250,000.00 in one-time funds in its FY 21 Budget for a RTC pilot program. Long Beach should use COVID recovery monies to fully fund this program on an ongoing basis. BIPOC tenants are disproportionately impacted by the pandemic and Long Beach needs a fully funded RTC program to prevent mass displacement.
In 2018, the Long Beach courthouse had 3,372 eviction filings. Long Beach residents make up approximately 50% of those evictions based on population and density. Accordingly, in 2018, the last year for which we have eviction filing information, approximately 1,686 evictions came from Long Beach zip codes. In order to cover this need, at an estimate of 70 cases per year per attorney, and 25 hours per case on average, approximately 27 attorneys are needed to cover the LB RTC program. The legal costs would be $3,024,000.00 annually. The legal cost of the program is based on a blended hourly rate of $180 per hour, based on numbers mirroring other programs of RTC. The $180 per hour legal cost of the program includes not just attorney time, but all costs related to eviction defense including costs for paralegals, secretaries, filing costs, and all other office expenses.
The non-legal staff cost of the program for education and outreach is approximately $640,000.00. This would cover the cost of eight full time community organizers with benefits, at $80K per organizer (approximately $65K plus benefits).
The total cost of LB’s RTC program will be $3,664,000.00: with legal costs at $3,024,000.00 and non-legal staff: $640,000.00.
Importantly, this proposal was drafted before the COVID-19 pandemic. The May 2020 report by the UCLA Luskin Institute on Inequality and Democracy estimates that 120,000 households in LA County will face evictions as a result of the impacts of the pandemic. (UD Day: Impending Evictions and Homelessness in Los Angeles) It is also anticipated that evictions will triple in each LA County courthouse as a result of the pandemic. Therefore, evictions in the Long Beach courthouse will likely surpass 10,000 cases.
3. Funding for a Community Land Trust: $5,750,000.00
BIPOC tenants who have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic are seeking pathways to homeownership and permanently affordable housing to help alleviate the pressures of displacement. BIPOC tenants have expressed great interest in community owned land models such as community land trusts (CLTs). With CLTs, the City can help to create pathways to home ownership for extremely low and very low income households. This will create permanently affordable housing, wealth generation for BIPOC residents, and prevent displacement. The city should use COVID recovery dollars to get the first CLT off the ground in Long Beach. This would cost approximately 5,750,000.00.
Funds for property acquisition: $5 million
Funds for capacity building and technical assistance to tenants: $750,000
4. Increased funding for the Long Beach Justice Fund
The FY21 adopted budget allocation of $300,000 to the Long Beach Justice Fund is an equitable step towards providing ongoing and permanent support for the undocumented community in Long Beach. Providing free universal legal representation to immigrant residents facing deportation regardless of their background continues to be a vital resource in addressing a critical need within the immigrant community. In the past two years of implementation, 24 individuals have already been given free legal representation in their deportation cases. According to data from the Executive Office of Immigration Review, there have been 70 immigration cases filed in the last 90 days within the Long Beach-Lakewood area alone with only 13 cases having legal representation. The need for legal representation within deportation proceedings continues to outpace the resources, creating the opportunity for the LBRA to invest further resources into proven systems that are protecting vulnerable Long Beach residents.
5. Funding for an immigrant assistance fund: 2,500,000
COVID-19 has destroyed the livelihoods of many in our community. But whereas those with status can rely on unemployment benefits, medicare, and any federally funded COVID-19 relief programs to get them through this crisis, our undocumented community members are not able to. Nearly 31,000 undocumented immigrants live in Long Beach. Many of our undocumented community members work in temporary or low-wage jobs, without access to sick leave, unemployment or the ability to work remotely or receive any federal stimulus checks. Protect community well-being, health, and the economic security of undocumented immigrants in Long Beach, especially amidst COVID-19 by creating and allocating $2,500,000 for a Long Beach Immigrant Fund. This fund can provide financial assistance to undocumented families who have not received any help from any level of government
6. Increased funding for Language Access: $2,345,000.00
LEP Long Beach residents continue to struggle with access to City services, meetings, documents, and critical COVID related information. The availability, quality, and speed of interpretation and translation remain pressing issues for Long Beach residents. The City should dedicate recovery funds towards achieving language justice for LEP residents. The following items are needed to achieve this goal.
A. Dedicate adequate staff to implement the LAP consistently throughout the City and create a culture of language justice in Long Beach. These staff members would work on an assessment of each Department’s LAP compliance; an assessment of what vital documents have been translated and which ones still need to be translated; city-wide coordination; and ongoing training for staff.
2 FTE LAC Program Coordinators: $200,000
1 FTE LAC Program Assistant: $85,000
B. Permanently move interpretation and translation services in-house, to provide a faster and higher quality response to residents who need interpretation and translation. Provide Spanish, Khmer, and Tagalog interpretation at all City Council and Charter Commission meetings without having to make an advance request.
This would structurally fund language access because it would be undertaken by full time City employees dedicated to interpretation and translation. This would allow for ongoing translation of vital documents and it would ensure quality interpretation at all City Council and Charter Commission meetings, without having to request interpretation in advance.
Hire 8 FTE Spanish, 4 FTE Khmer, and 2 FTE Tagalog interpreters as City Staff.
Estimated Translator Salary and Benefits is $140,000/ per FTE
C. Provide community-based organizations who work with LEP residents ongoing stipends to conduct outreach about the Policy. Such organizations have deep community relationships, trust and cultural competency, to effectively communicate with LEP residents about their rights and how to access City services, documents and meetings in their primary languages.
$100,000 for Community-Based Organizations
7. Funding for safe and affordable transportation
As outlined in the Youth and Emerging Adults Strategic Plan, “safe streets and accessible public transit are lifelines to economic, education, and cultural-enrichment opportunities” for many residents. For youth in particular, many of them rely on public transit as their main source of transportation and continually navigate through challenges regarding its affordability and concerns about safety. Many youth express that reduced student fare programs simply aren’t affordable enough– high school students may purchase $40 30-day passes discounted from the regular $65 30-day pass rate, forcing many to prioritize bus passes over other critical needs or risk fare evasion. Exploring fare-free options and activities that optimize the safety of pedestrians and public transit riders should be a key element to an equitable recovery in Long Beach as in-person activities and schooling resume.
8. Allocate resources to the community-identified priorities in previous city reports and initiatives
Over the past few years leading up to and during the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Long Beach has undergone numerous processes, initiatives, and reports where community engagement was an essential part of the development of specific policy recommendations. An equitable next step is connecting the LBRA priorities to the community input and recommendations developed in efforts including but not limited to:
Housing Element focus groups
The opportunity before us is a tremendous lift that will require close partnership and collaboration. We are ready to work with the City of Long Beach and other political leaders to support the implementation of proposed recommendations.
Advancement Project California
Democratic Socialists of America - Long Beach chapter
California Faculty Association- Long Beach
Californians for Justice- Long Beach
Educated Men with Meaningful Messages
Filipino Migrant Center
Khmer Girls in Action