Ballot measure to address homelessness passed with significant support from Angelenos in November but is being challenged in court by special-interest groups
LOS ANGELES, February 15, 2023 – Community groups, affordable housing providers, and organized labor have joined the legal fight to defend Measure ULA against a lawsuit filed in December by two special interest groups. Measure ULA is a ballot initiative that passed with support from nearly 58% of L.A. voters in November, and will generate hundreds of millions of dollars every year for homelessness prevention services, tenant protection programs, and new affordable housing through a tax on property sales over $5 million. However, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles (AAGLA) are challenging the measure in court.
Their lawsuit names the City of Los Angeles as a defendant as well as “all persons interested in the matter of Measure ULA.” Community groups, affordable housing providers, and labor filed paperwork with the court today to join the lawsuit as original backers and advocates for the measure.
“Our clients are rising up to defend Measure ULA because they were deeply involved in its development and represent constituencies that will be harmed by the plaintiffs’ effort to block this popular and necessary measure,” said Greg Bonett, Senior Staff Attorney with Public Counsel’s Community Development Project. “Voters overwhelmingly passed Measure ULA to deliver a comprehensive set of solutions to address L.A.’s homelessness and affordable housing crisis. Our clients are committed to upholding this critical initiative by ensuring the voices of workers, seniors, and everyday Angelenos are represented in court.”
The groups that stepped forward as defendants are the Southern California Association of Nonprofit Housing (SCANPH), Koreatown Immigrant Workers Association (KIWA), and Service Employees International United (SEIU) Local 2015.
“As the collective voice of affordable housing providers in Southern California, we are committed to upholding the will of Los Angeles voters and protecting a vital and much-needed source of funding for new affordable housing development,” said Alan Greenlee, Executive Director, Southern California Association of Nonprofit Housing (SCANPH). “Our city has a staggering deficit of affordable housing supply that is exacerbating our homelessness crisis, and Measure ULA – overwhelmingly approved by voters – is a solution we must vigorously defend and protect in order to support low-income Angelenos, vulnerable seniors, and fellow community members at risk of homelessness.”
“SEIU 2015—the long-term care workers union which represents 100,000 in-home supportive services and nursing home workers across the city of Los Angeles—stands with KIWA and SCANPH in defense of Measure ULA,” said Arnulfo De La Cruz, President, Service Employees International Union Local 2015. “Hardworking Angelenos, who see the effects of homelessness and scarce housing options on our communities every day, joined together to overwhelmingly pass Measure ULA, the historic housing initiative. And now, using their same old tricks, those who profit from evictions, huge rent hikes, luxury buildings, and ignoring the homeless are trying to undo the will of the voters and take away the progress we’re making. SEIU 2015 will not let these affluent groups steamroll the will of the voters and usurp the democratic process.”
“Measure ULA is critical to protecting our members – working families and seniors – from falling into homelessness,” said Alexandra Suh, Executive Director of the Koreatown Immigrant Workers Alliance (KIWA). “Koreatown is losing affordable housing at a drastic rate as gentrification pushes out our longtime community members. We see the devastating impact of these changes firsthand, as residents are uprooted from their communities and social networks. We’re proud to join this effort to defend measure ULA against this reckless lawsuit that threatens the future of Los Angeles and handcuffs our city from addressing its most pressing issues.”
Today is the deadline for parties to file paperwork to identify themselves as defendants. The groups are represented by Public Counsel and Irell & Manella LLP.
KIWA: Founded in 1992, KIWA builds power with immigrant workers and renters to bring about a more just and inclusive Los Angeles. One of the nation’s most established worker centers, KIWA organizes primarily Korean and Latino immigrant workers, with a focus on the restaurant and retail industries. KIWA aligns strategic worker and community organizing with policy change, leadership development, research, services, and coalition-building. Because of their immense impact on workers’ lives, KIWA also works in the areas of civic justice, economic policy, immigration, housing and transit policy, and land-use reform.
SCANPH: The Southern California Association of Nonprofit Housing (SCANPH) is a trade association, founded in 1985, that supports and advocates for those dedicated to the development of affordable housing. SCANPH’s advocacy efforts have contributed greatly toward assisting the financially vulnerable in our communities since 1985. The mission of SCANPH is to facilitate development of affordable homes across southern California by advancing effective public policies, sustainable financial resources, strong member organizations, and beneficial partnerships. | www.scanph.org
SEIU 2015: SEIU Local 2015 is the largest union in California, representing nearly 450,000 long-term care workers (home care, skilled nursing facility, and assisted living center workers) throughout the state. Its members are as diverse as the state’s population, but united in their commitment to caring for California’s most vulnerable: seniors and the disabled.
Public Counsel: Founded in 1970, Public Counsel is the nation’s largest provider of pro bono legal services, utilizing an innovative legal model to promote justice, hope, and opportunity in lower-income and communities of color in Los Angeles and across the nation. Through groundbreaking civil rights litigation, community building, advocacy, and policy change, as well as wide-ranging direct legal services that annually help thousands of people experiencing poverty, Public Counsel has fought to secure equal justice and opportunity for all for more than 50 years.
Irell & Manella LLP: For more than 80 years, Irell & Manella LLP has helped clients resolve their most challenging and complex legal issues. Irell is known for its extraordinary track record of successful outcomes as well as the genuine creativity brought to high-stakes litigation. The firm’s success is rooted in its unflagging commitment to quality and client service.