St. Anne Catholic Church in Santa Monica, working with LA Voice-Santa Monica, and in collaboration with Santa Monicans for Renters Rights and the Pico Neighborhood Association, announced the establishment of the Santa Monica Renter Empowerment Zone at a press conference on Friday, December 16.
The zone is bounded by Fourteenth Street, Cloverfield Avenue, Pico Boulevard and Colorado Avenue.
The announcement coincided with the parish posada, its annual Christmas procession, during which participants marched two blocks from the church to an apartment building on Nineteenth Street in which three St. Anne parishioners live. The trio is currently petitioning the landlord for repairs to their homes.
“My family has suffered for many years because repairs in our home have gone undone,” said Alfredo Arechiga. “Many renters in Santa Monica, especially those of us in the Spanish-speaking community, are unaware that we have rights, that we have the right to request repairs without the fear of eviction.”
Patterned after movements in Los Angeles and other cities, the empowerment program will undertake “an intensive and coordinated outreach effort to educate, inform and empower renters in Santa Monica.”
Initially, St. Anne’s will go door-to-door in the zone to inform renters of their rights, conduct a survey on the condition of rental units in Santa Monica and advise renters on appropriate courses of action when their landlords fail to make necessary repairs.
“We welcome the work of LA Voice-Santa Monica, and are excited about their vision to inform and educate residents around issues of housing, so that all residents exercise their right to live in homes that are clean and safe,” said Denny Zane, co-chair of Santa Monicans for Renters Rights.
“While many City officials attempt to address the issue of affordable housing, many families continue to be pushed out of Santa Monica due to unlawful evictions and lack of information on their rights as renters. The Pico Neighborhood Association (PNA) stands united with St. Anne’s, LA Voice-Santa Monica, and SMRR in launching the Renter Empowerment Zone in the effort to preserve the diversity of our community,” said Maria Loya, PNA co-chair.
Father Mike Gutierrez, pastor of St. Anne Church, sees the Renter Empowerment Zone as an example of the church’s commitment to social justice.“At this time of year we are reminded that we have a mission. We have a duty and responsibility to reach out to one another and bring forth the kingdom of God. This mission is central to our church and our faith. By making sure that the rights of the most vulnerable in our community are protected we are bringing forth the kingdom.”