Newsletter: Seniors are being hit especially hard by California’s housing crisis

After being presented with an eviction notice, Mario Canel fears for his future.
(Liz Moughon / Los Angeles Times)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Friday, Aug. 30, and I’m writing from Los Angeles.

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The words “California housing crisis” have become so omnipresent that it can be difficult to distinguish between the daily headlines, even as many of us personally feel the squeeze.

Yes, the rent is too damn high, there is a crushing shortage of existing housing supply, and our cities are increasingly becoming hollowed-out places for the very rich, all while a humanitarian crisis unfolds in the ever-growing tent cities on our streets. But, you’re probably thinking, tell me something I don’t already know, right?


Andrew Khouri, who covers the housing market for the Los Angeles Times, worked with Metro reporter Colleen Shalby on a big story about a very specific aspect of the housing crisis that you should probably be paying attention to.

Seniors account for the fastest-growing age group in the state, and they are also perhaps the most vulnerable to California’s rising rents and evictions of any age group. They are also more likely to be on a fixed income, which makes weathering even the modest rent increases allowed under rent control far more difficult. And being able to afford a market-rate apartment after an eviction for someone on a fixed income? That’s near impossible.

Khouri and Shalby spent time with Mario Canel, a 73-year-old Silver Lake house painter who has lived in his bungalow court apartment complex for 33 years. Canel, who relies on his monthly Social Security benefits, had been paying less than $400 for his rent-controlled apartment. But a real estate investor recently purchased the complex and told all the tenants they had to leave.

“There are signs that seniors are disproportionately affected by the types of evictions Canel now faces,” Khouri and Shalby wrote. “Households with at least one person 62 or older made up 26% of no-fault evictions in Los Angeles city rent-controlled buildings between June 2014 and May 2019, according to the Los Angeles Housing and Community Investment Department. By comparison, 13% of rental households in properties built before 1979 are headed by someone 65 or older, according to 2017 census estimates. (Most rent-controlled buildings in Los Angeles were constructed before 1979.)”

[Read the full story: “Seniors facing eviction fear homelessness and isolation as California’s housing crisis rolls on” in the Los Angeles Times]

And now, here’s what’s happening across California:



In the face of a looming deadline, Uber and Lyft are throwing new weight and tens of millions of dollars behind their fight to keep treating drivers as independent contractors in California. The ride-hailing companies said Thursday they will commit $60 million to fund a statewide initiative aimed at the 2020 ballot to create an alternate classification for drivers that would include some employee protections and a guaranteed minimum pay. Later, delivery service DoorDash said it would commit an additional $30 million. The announcement comes a day after Uber’s chief legal officer and Lyft’s president met with Gov. Gavin Newsom and his chief of staff, Ann O’Leary, to discuss AB 5, the controversial bill that would reclassify many gig workers as employees. Los Angeles Times


Another round of layoffs has hit Walt Disney Co. after the Burbank entertainment company’s purchase of 21st Century Fox, with nearly 60 people let go in the company’s media distribution units. Los Angeles Times

Teddy’s Red Tacos will be setting up shop in the Club Bahia parking lot in Echo Park with its second truck, and there will be a full booze menu. Teddy’s, for those who haven’t yet had the pleasure, is an Instagram-famous taco truck that specializes in Tijuana-style birria de res. L.A. Taco

(See also: Times restaurant critic Patricia Escárcega’s review of Teddy’s from a few months back.)

“BH90210” actress Gabrielle Carteris has won the race to head SAG-AFTRA after a contentious election. Carteris, who was reelected Thursday, has been president of Hollywood’s largest union since 2016. Los Angeles Times

An L.A. photo shop was struggling — then country star Kacey Musgraves dropped in.Los Angeles Times

Dockweiler is L.A. County’s bonfire beach. That makes for a loud and wonderful party. Los Angeles Times

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A United Nations agency, with funding from the U.S. State Department, is transporting thousands of immigrants from the U.S.-Mexico border back to Central America in a program that has drawn the ire of migrant legal advocates. The advocates question whether migrants fully understand their rights when they accept free plane and bus tickets home. Los Angeles Times


Former Rep. Darrell Issa has created an exploratory committee as he eyes a return to Congress in the district of embattled Rep. Duncan Hunter. Washington Post

State lawmakers are trying to improve the severe shortage of housing available to renters with Section 8 vouchers. Two bills, both of which are scheduled to be considered Friday in the state Assembly, could help remedy the problem. CalMatters / Fresno Bee

Long Beach police have launched an internal investigation into the death of a dog found in his handler’s car, apparently from heat. Long Beach Press-Telegram


Police in Mobile, Ala., have issued a warrant for the arrest of DeMarcus Cousins. The Lakers center is is accused of threatening to shoot his ex-girlfriend. Los Angeles Times

Gilroy police have identified an additional person who suffered a gunshot wound — but narrowly escaped a more serious injury — during the deadly garlic festival shooting. The 58-year-old man sustained a graze wound to his head that required stitches, bringing the total number of people shot during the July 28 shooting to 17. Mercury News

Three puppies were stolen from a San Francisco animal shelter Thursday, and two of them were apparently offered for sale hours later on a website. San Francisco Chronicle


A sewage spill at Huntington Harbour could be smaller than the 60,000 gallons that were originally feared to have been released. Los Angeles Times


Chef Biba Caggiano has died at 82. She was a seminal figure in the Sacramento food scene whose midtown Italian restaurant bearing her first name put the state capital on the culinary map. Sacramento Bee

How an unrecruited San Luis Obispo County ballplayer became one of MLB’s best pitching prospects. San Luis Obispo Tribune

Inside the elite, detail-obsessed world of the people who judge the Oscars of classic cars. Los Angeles Times

Bay Area restaurant owners are reckoning with the industry’s mental health issues. San Francisco Chronicle

Chapman University plans to donate $400,000 it received from a nonprofit associated with William “Rick” Singer, the admitted mastermind of a college admissions bribery scheme. Orange County Register


Los Angeles: sunny, 87. San Diego: partly sunny, 78. San Francisco: sunny, 70. San Jose: partly sunny, 79. Sacramento: partly sunny, 92. More weather is here.


“With their cars, Angelenos go places, they travel infinite numbers of kilometers in a world that continuously remains Los Angeles.”

— Cees Nooteboom

If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. (Please keep your story to 100 words.)

Note: Yesterday’s Elvis encounter “California memory” was attributed to Sharon Sheldon, but it should have been credited to her husband, Keith Sheldon, who sent it from his wife’s computer. Thank you, as always, for sharing your California memories with us.

Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments, complaints, ideas and unrelated book recommendations to Julia Wick. Follow her on Twitter @Sherlyholmes.