The Culinary union is supporting several measures to rein in the cost of rent. (Photo courtesy of Culinary Union)
The Culinary Union wants the Legislature to tie rent increases to the cost of living and fund mental health services for children, and they warned lawmakers mulling action to “ignore this at their own peril.”
Ted Pappageorge, secretary-treasurer for the Culinary Union, spoke Thursday to outline the union’s legislative priorities, which includes passing reforms to tackle the rising costs of housing and the lack of tenant protections.
Proposals include clarifying local officials’ ability to implement regulation around affordable housing, connecting rent increases to the the cost of living with a 5% cap, and reforming Nevada’s summary eviction system, which is a unique practice to the state that requires a tenant be the first to file with the court after receiving a notice from a landlord.
“We don’t have any time for platitudes and aspirational goals,” Pappageorge said. “We are not interested in hearing any of that. We expect results from this legislature and our governor.”
Culinary expects Democratic state Sen. Pat Spearman to pick up their proposed “neighborhood stability” bill, which could cap rent increases to 5% and tie them to cost of living adjustments. The legislation would exclude “mom and pop landlords.”
The union attempted to pass such legislation in North Las Vegas last year via a ballot initiative, but their petition was rejected by the City of North Las Vegas, which determined that not enough signatures had been collected.
Democratic state Sen. Edgar Flores is drafting legislation to clarify “Dillion’s rule,” a governing principle that limits local powers to those expressly granted by the state. Local officials argue the rule prevents them from considering rent stabilization and other housing measures.
Pappageorge said the union is also backing Senate Bill 78, legislation sponsored by Democratic state Sen. Fabian Doñate that would regulate rental application fees and extend the timeframe for no-cause evictions from 30 to 60 days.
The Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada has also urged lawmakers to bolster tenant protections.
Between polling members in 2022 and knocking on doors prior to the midterm election, Pappageorge said one of the top issues among voters remains their struggle to afford rent.
Valleywide rents have increased more than 20% since February 2020, according to county officials. Pappageorge said nearly a quarter of Culinary Union members surveyed in 2022 said they have seen $500 rent increases in the last couple years.
Carlos Padilla, a baker at Treasure Island who spoke Thursday, said his rent for a three-bedroom apartment was $1,200 two years ago.
“I’m paying $1,675 now and recently got a letter from my landlord saying that it’s going to get raised to $1,800 starting next month,” Padilla said. “I thought it was a mistake. I asked the landlord about it, but they told me there is no law in Nevada that says the landlord cannot raise the rent to anything they want, whenever they want.”
In addition to addressing housing insecurity, the Culinary Union is pushing lawmakers to establish a lottery to pay for youth mental services.
Democratic Assemblyman Cameron C.H. Miller is sponsoring the legislation, which would require amending the state constitution The measure would need to be passed by the Legislature this year and again in 2025, before going before voters in 2026.
Pappageorge said the state needs a dedicated “sustainable funding to youth mental health and education.”
The state, he added, is facing a crisis in both the lack of housing affordability and mental health services, and voters want to see results.
“We think the legislature would ignore this at their own peril,” he said. “If there isn’t any action taken at this time after all these years, voters will find somebody else to take action.”
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