A Tool to Aid Renters Fighting Eviction

Media outlets including CalMatters, Los Angeles magazine, Telemundo48 and Truthout covered the launch of the Tenant Power Toolkit, an online platform that helps renters facing eviction navigate a complicated legal process. The UCLA Luskin Institute on Inequality and Democracy (II&D) is one of several groups that collaborated on the toolkit, which helps California tenants who receive an eviction notice prepare an initial response under tight deadlines, protecting them against default judgments. The online tool also educates renters about their rights and connects them with advocacy groups that can provide legal assistance. More than 50 tenant advocates and attorneys worked on the Tenant Power Toolkit over the last two years. In addition to the Institute on Inequality and Democracy, they represented groups including the Debt Collective, co-founded by II&D Associate Faculty Director Hannah Appel; the LA Tenants Union; the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project; and the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment.


Student Debt Is a Policy Failure, Appel Says

In a recent Marketplace interview, Hannah Appel, associate faculty director of the UCLA Luskin Institute on Inequality and Democracy, said that “canceling student debt is the quickest way to narrow the racial wealth gap.” The Department of Education announced a plan to change the federal student loan system to make it easier for lower-income student loan borrowers to have their debt forgiven, prompting discussions about canceling all student loan debt. The vast majority of student loans are “simply uncollectable,” Appel said, adding that the impact of student loan debt falls disproportionately on people of color. She explained that student loan debt is unique because it’s held 95%-plus by the federal government. “We’ve seen the most progress and we’ve been able to build the most power around student debt, because it plainly is a policy failure for which we can hold the government accountable, and they can reverse course,” she said.

Documentary Zeroes In on Canceling College Debt

A documentary about the growing movement to cancel student debt, co-produced by the UCLA Luskin Institute on Inequality and Democracy (II&D) and released by The Intercept, features insights from the Luskin School’s faculty and staff. “You Are Not a Loan” shares the experiences of activists, academics and debt-burdened students as they strategize across class and cultural lines to bring about the right to free college for all. The film was shot in February 2020 following an II&D- hosted conference urging a fresh vision for financing higher education. Within weeks, the COVID-19 pandemic shut down campuses nationwide, stepping up the urgency to create an equitable system of education. Joining the conversation are II&D Associate Faculty Director Hannah Appel and Deputy Director Marisa Lemorande, as well as Marques Vestal, who will join the School’s urban planning faculty in June. Vestal will also take part in a Jan. 30 virtual Q&A about the documentary as part of the Sundance Film Festival.