A look into the MV Housing Justice Coalition: activists protecting renters and mobile home owners

STORY BY CARLY HELTZEL, PHOTO BY GIL RUBINSTEIN

Logging onto the Mountain View Housing Justice Coalition (MVHJC) Zoom call, you’d hardly expect to be greeted with a tight-knit, welcoming group of advocates laughing about how many trout brains makes a serving of food — but the amicable environment took nothing away from the gravity of what they were about to discuss. 

The activist group, comprised of members of the Mountain View community, seeks to protect apartment renters and residents sheltered in motorhomes from eviction, raised rent prices and displacement.

Following the Mountain View City Council’s vote to confirm its implementation of Measure C — the ban of oversized vehicles, including motor homes, from streets 40 feet wide or less — the advocacy group still hopes to delay the installation of the signs necessary to enforce the ban, continuing a year and a half long attempt to block the measure. 

“[The City] is going to run into the issue of enforcement,” said MVHJC member Jackie Cashen at tonight’s meeting. “One place where it’s likely we would be able to challenge is in selective enforcement. I don’t think they’ll enforce in a handful of cases because no one complains, but if they start enforcing it anywhere then it’s likely to become more of a problem.”

According to Cashen, motor home residents and advocates could appeal for a temporary injunction in light of the pandemic to delay the implementation — this is the last time to be moving people around, she said. 

Cashen said she lives in an apartment, but has been on the waiting list for affordable housing for over a year and a half. 

Despite many of their efforts ultimately being unsuccessful, the group continues to sound optimistic, with members continuing to use phrases like “if Measure C is implemented” — a stark contrast with some members of the City Council’s determination to make it happen. 

However, with new council members sworn in, the MVHJC is experiencing a supportive council for the first time in a while, according to MVHJC member Edie Keating.

Looking forward, former Mayor Lenny Siegal, a member of the coalition, said the next major issue the group has set its sights on is the Rental Housing Committee appointments that will take place in a few months. This committee is tasked with implementing and administering the Community Stabilization and Fair Rent acts, which provide protections for renters in Mountain View. 

Describing holding a seat on the committee as a “thankless task,” Siegal and the group discussed community members to nominate and the strategy in placing MVHJC’s endorsements; however, the organization is bracing for pushback from the council on many of the candidates they will endorse, given anti–rent control council members such as Lisa Matichak and Mayor Margaret Abe-Koga.

Through all of the group’s successes and roadblocks, the activists say they hope to regroup after Measure C, and continue to fight the housing crisis and work toward a “safe community” and “to protect vehicle residents against harassment and exclusion.”

For more information on the MVHJC, visit their website

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