Sheyda Joolharzadeh

  • Hosted by Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles
  • Sponsored by AmeriCorps VISTA, Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles
  • Service location Los Angeles, California
  • Issue area Housing - Affordable Housing/Microfinance
  • Fellowship class year 2015
  • Program AmeriCorps VISTA

The Project

Sheyda is an Equal Justice Works attorney with the VISTA Affordable Housing Preservation Project. VAHPP builds the capacity of tenant associations in project based section 8 HUD assisted properties in the city of Los Angeles to increase tenants’ knowledge of their rights, responsibilities, and options for preserving their homes and improving their communities. Specifically, VAHPP focuses on tenants living in properties with project based section 8 contracts where either: contracts are expiring within the next five years, owners want to prepay existing HUD mortgages or opt out of the project based section 8 program, or habitability issues are so severe, properties are at risk of abatement. As a part of the VISTA Affordable Housing Preservation Project, Sheyda helped to increase community knowledge of available affordable housing options in Los Angeles—a city where a quarter of households pay up to 50 percent of their income on rent.

Los Angeles continues to be one of the least affordable rental markets in the country, with ¼ of households spending 50% of their income on rent. VAHPP focuses on neighborhoods containing high numbers of properties that are at risk of losing subsidies. These communities are experiencing aggressive rates of displacement of poor, low-income, elderly, and disabled individuals and families due to rapid gentrification and transit-oriented development. By prioritizing these vulnerable neighborhoods, VAHPP will maximize its resources and capacity building impact to assist tenants in preserving their affordable housing.

Fellowship Highlights

During Sheyda’s Fellowship, Sheyda plans to:

  • Increased community knowledge about the different types of available affordable housing in Los Angeles and unique strategies to preserve project based Section 8 housing.
  • Established a sustainable legal clinic for project-based section 8 tenants to address both short term and long term preservation questions and concerns.
  • Developed tools to target project based section 8 buildings where tenants have received opt out notices, or owners have no plans to renew subsidies.

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