Tag Archives: CSUN Political Science Department

California Dreaming: Affordable Rent

It is becoming even more expensive to rent in Los Angeles, according to the new 2016 Affordability Report by the California Housing Partnership.

With over 4 million residents,  Los Angeles has more people living in it than ever before, and experts say there is just not enough room. It is no longer economically feasible for most to live in LA County.

On average, residents pay over $2,000 dollars a month in rent. The area has a high number of low-income tenants, and many are rent burdened.

“The common thinking is that you shouldn’t pay more than 30 percent of your income in rent,”said Elizabeth Blaney, the Co-Executive Director of the Boyle Heights community organization Union de Vecinos. “I think that should be a little bit lower, because 30 percent still is a lot for a lot of low income and extremely low income families,”

New data shows that on average, those who are considered low income are spending 71 percent of their paychecks on rent. They are left with only 29 percent to spend on food, transportation, health care, and other needs.

“What you have is an increase in demand, which means the economy is doing really well,”said CSUN Economics Professor Shirley Svorney, “so it’s kind of like when we have congestion on the freeways. It’s because people are buying houses; that’s what pushes up the prices. On the supply side, there’s a lot of restrictions on building, regulations, zoning, and other types of government requirements that make it more costly to build.”

Svorney said another factor driving up housing costs is that Los Angeles is an agglomeration economy. This means that more jobs are located closely within the area, making the real estate even more valuable.

“A lot of middle class people are leaving,” said CSUN Political Science Professor Tom Hogen-esch. “Teachers and firefighters, even people in the traditional professions, are facing this. They’re sort of middle class, housing poor, and so almost everybody is under at least some pressure in terms of the cost of housing here.”

The Ellis Act is a state law that says landlords can rightfully evict tenants in order to “go out of business.” The entire building can be cleared out. This is one of many tactics used by landlords to tear down affordable housing and turn it into high priced housing.

California is the number one state in poverty rates when housing is taken into accounted. The 2016 homeless count by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority found that 46,874 homeless people are living in LA County. Experts say there are many reasons for homelessness, but lack of affordable housing is certainly one.

In order to rent “burden free” in this city, a household would need to make more than $40 an hour, four times the current minimum wage.


Moderator: Haley Kramer

Anchor: Ajo Adelaja

Producer: Valerie Hernandez

Social Media Editors: Ajo Adelaja and Valerie Hernandez

Reporters: Ajo Adelaja, Harry Bennett III, Jarvis Haren, Valerie Hernandez, Haley Kramer, Sofia Levin and Mariah Robinson

Comments Off on California Dreaming: Affordable Rent

Politics of Fear

Millions of Muslims around the world have had their religious faith put on trial because of the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, San Bernardino, and Brussels. Some political analysts and American Muslims fear that the battle for the Republican nomination has prompted controversial rhetoric against their religion, including proposals to register Muslims already living in America, order police to patrol their neighborhoods and mosques, and ban any further immigration.

Islamic leaders and imams in several countries say they are not responsible for terrorist organizations, and that terrorists should be recognized as separate from their religious beliefs.

Muslim Public Affairs Council President Salam al-Marayati, said in a news conference in Los Angeles following the San Bernardino attacks, that the Muslim society will not be divided by ignorant hate.

“In the media landscape, one of the only times there is an opportunity for the Muslim voices to be heard is in the aftermath of a terrorist attack,” said Edina Lekovic, Public Affairs Consultant at the Muslim Public Affairs Council. “It sets up one of the few opportunities for there to be a mainstream Muslim voice, but it’s still in the context of bad news.”

Muslim organizations in America say they have seen unprecedented spikes in hateful episodes after anti-Muslim remarks were said by some presidential hopefuls. There have been many cases of vandalism and threats made towards mosques and those who attend them.

“People are going to have fundamentally, deep and profound disagreements about the highest things, and unless they get a sort of grip over themselves (and) learn to contain themselves, (then) these disagreements will find themselves in violence and political violence,”  CSUN Political Science Professor Nicholas Dungey said.

“Look we’re all concerned about safety,” Lekovic said, “and that’s something that I react to, too. It’s not a Muslim thing, a white thing, a black thing, a Latino thing…At this stage in our country, it’s an American thing.”

Moderator: Ala Errebhi

Anchor: Noemi Barajas

Producer: Ala Errebhi

Social Media Editors: Jamie Perez and Caitlin Pieh

Reporters: Noemi Barajas, Halie Cook, Juaneeq Elliott, Ala Errebhi, Jamie Perez, Caitlin Pieh and Nicholas Seaman
Comments Off on Politics of Fear

Profiting from Punishment

In a population of more than 320 million American citizens, The Prison Policy Initiative estimates around 2.3 million of those citizens are incarcerated in local, state and federal prisons. Of those, more than 433,000 are serving time in federal prison for drug-related offenses.

According to NAACP, African Americans are incarcerated at nearly six times the rate of Caucasians. Combined with the Hispanic population, these two minority groups comprise around 58 percent of all prisoners, even though they make up around 25 percent of the U.S. population.

“The whole criminalization of drugs really impacts minorities more than anybody else,” said Jane Bayes, CSUN political science professor. “Those are the people who are being picked up for drugs and targeted for drugs… I’m not even sure they’re the major consumers of them [though], because many whites are not targeted in the same way by law enforcement.”

According to The Sentencing Project, more people are incarcerated today just for drug-related crimes, than for all crimes in 1980.

“To a certain degree, you may look at racial profiling and stereotyping [as the reason], depending …[on the]…law enforcement agencies concerned,” said Los Angeles Harbor College political science professor Van Chaney. “I still think that is a problem within law enforcement.”

Chaney said minority groups are incarcerated at higher rates for a variety of reasons, such as lack of good legal representation, dysfunctional families and communities, and low income.

“We are all familiar with the zip code 90210,” Chaney said. “If you have a helicopter in that area at two in the morning … compared to say, Figueroa and King … who would the DEA’s office probably take the case with? Would it be at 90210, compared to South LA or at least South Central LA? Just the name itself changes [things]. I mean it’s that discrepancy that affects, unfortunately, a lot of minority groups.”

The Sentencing Project also reported that people of color make up about 37 percent of the U.S. population, but comprise 67 percent of the total prison population. A TIME study estimates black youth are arrested for drug crimes at a rate 10 times higher than whites, but whites are more likely to abuse these drugs.

Another controversy is the increasing privatization and profitability of prisons. According to the Drug Police Alliance, federal and state governments have spent over $1 trillion on the so-called war on drugs over the past four decades, relying on tax dollars to pay the bills.

“To me, one of the biggest problems is we’ve made prisons into money making operations,” Bayes said, “and that provides all kinds of new incentives to fill the prisons and to keep them [full,] too.”

Private prisons make a huge profit from incarcerating drug offenders, according to the NAACP, mainly due to the mandatory minimum sentencing put in place for drug possession. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the average prison sentence for federal drug offenders is more than 11 years. According to the VERA Institute of Justice , the total cost to house prisoners ranged from $14,603 in Kentucky, to $60,076 in New York, per inmate each year. Critics suggest taxpayer dollars are not being well spent, considering that more than two-thirds of all incarcerated prisoners will return to prison within three years of being released.

The debate over the war on drugs is an ongoing one among many Americans, who are concerned about how their tax dollars are spent. Considering the high rate of recidivism, and how much money is spent to imprison drug offenders, many question whether the criminal justice system of prisons is a big business, or a new form of slavery, or both.

Moderator: Nicholas Seaman

Anchor: Caitlin Pieh

Producer: Nicholas Seaman

Social Media Editors: Noemi Barajas and Juaneeq Elliott

Reporters: Noemi Barajas, Halie Cook, Juaneeq Elliott, Ala Errebhi, Caitlin Pieh, Jamie Perez and Nicholas Seaman

Comments Off on Profiting from Punishment

The Bogeyman Thesis: Islamophobia Examined

Islamophobia is a term meaning prejudice against, hatred towards, or fear of the religion of Islam and Muslims.  A Washington Post-ABC News poll conducted in 2010 found that 49 percent of Americans held an unfavorable view of Islam, a 39 percent increase from 2002.

Some experts believe that the prejudice against Islam since the September 11, 2001 attacks is partly the result of fear-mongering from politicians and competition for viewers among news media.

“Fear can be utilized to inspire, motivate and influence,” said CSUN Political Science Professor Boris Ricks. “It is certainly a tactic, used to achieve political ends or outcomes.”

“With respect to the media, we cannot demand how they operate,” said CSUN Political Science Professor Kassem Nabulsi. “This is a capitalist society. They are after ratings. They are not anti- Muslims themselves, although some talk shows are absolutely, but [not] the general media. Accusing the general media with a broad brush is the same way they are accusing us as Muslims, with a broad brush.”

But Islamophobia may have real consequences on the public dialogue and on American Muslims.

“If you don’t know any Muslims personally, it’s no wonder you fear them, because when you turn on the TV, it’s nothing but frightening images,” said Edina Lekovik, the Director of Programming and Policy for the Muslim Public Affairs Council. “But treating Muslims like an ‘other’, it’s unhealthy.”

Sixty percent of Muslim Americans say Americans show prejudice towards them, according to a recent Gallup report.

“Everybody accuses everybody,” Nabulsi said. “Terrorism for us, in America as Muslims, it’s our problem like every American…and we need to improve as much as possible our discourse, by first and foremost confronting this issue with our fear.”

The Gallup report also found Muslims are 48 percent more likely than Americans of other major religious groups to say they have experienced racial or religious discrimination in the past year.

“What we need to do,” Ricks said, “… is we need to be continually be vigilant, speak truth to power, to ensure stereotypes and phobias are rejected, and see them for what they are: social constructions… collaboration and participation can do that.”

The Center for American Progress published a report entitled “Fear, Inc” in 2011, suggesting that Islamophobia has its roots in a campaign of misinformation from a relatively small group of organizations with an interest in misrepresenting the realities of Islam. According to the report, the resulting fear has had a negative impact on the freedom of religion guaranteed in the Constitution, and it has fueled the belief that the West is at war with Islam and Muslims.

“Phobia – what I call the bogeyman thesis – is not going anywhere,” Ricks said. “It has been a tactic used by elements in society for various reasons and it is a form of behavior modification; if you want to move a country one way or another, you use the element of fear.”

“We can look back on whether this fear has been perpetuated by one group stereotyping another,” Nabulsi said, “but now we’re trying to reverse the trend by creating a different platform for our conversation.”

“I have to be hopeful,” Lekovic said. “I have to look at the future as a better place than today. We need to not move minds, we need to move hearts. Muslims are one of the most integrated communities in the country, and people just need to know us for who we are.”


Moderator: Ashley Goossen

Producer: Nancy Moreira

Anchor: Beau Akers

Reporters: Beau Akers, Samantha Benitz, Ken Harvey and Briseida Holguin

Social Media Editor: Cristal Canedo

Comments Off on The Bogeyman Thesis: Islamophobia Examined