Long Beach renters go on strike, following Southland trend

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Residents of a Long Beach apartment building called a strike on rent payments Thursday, due to what they say is a decaying building and retaliation for complaints with City of Long Beach Code Enforcement Department.

According to tenants at 2014 Chestnut Ave., building owners Nathan Levine-Heaney and Alex Bruno have neglected to make repairs to the building, and when residents complain, they’ve been met with eviction notices. Building captain Angel George, who has lived there for five years, said the owners make repairs only after units are vacated.

“We just wanted the new owner to fix things up for us, but, it seems like they are fixing things for other people and kicking us out,” George said in a statement. “It’s really disgusting when you think about it, we’re paying the owner our rent, so he can kick us out and fix the building on our backs.”

Additionally, Levine-Heaney and Bruno have dodged demands to meet with residents, which prompted the rental strike. According to Housing Long Beach, residents will be going on rent strike and withholding rent until repairs are made and they can meet with the owners.

Rental strikes are steadily becoming more common in Los Angeles. Last month, residents at a three-building complex on Burlington Avenue in Westlake launched a strike with about half the building’s 180 residents withholding rent. Exposition Park and Boyle Heights both saw similar actions earlier this year, with residents at an apartment building near Mariachi Heights reaching an agreement with their landlord after a strike.

Los Angeles Tenants Union organizer Trinidad Ruiz said that such strikes are the last resort for tenants pushed to action by decaying buildings and rising rent.

“This isn’t just a fight about housing,” Ruiz said. “It’s much more.”

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