Pasadena Tenant Justice Coalition

Nate Cooke
Nate Cooke

Fourth Generation Pasadenan and Single Grandfather.

My name is Nathaniel Cooke, and I’ve lived in Northwest Pasadena my entire life. My family has been in this city for 4 generations. I grew up on El Sereno Avenue, went to Pasadena High School, and I’ve been working for the city of Pasadena for the last 35 years. As a single grandfather, I’m raising my grandsons in Pasadena. Pasadena is the only home we have ever known, and we have a lot of love for this city.

Now, after all these decades in Pasadena, we are being kicked out of our home. We are being displaced from our community for no fault of our own. And I’m here today to share our story, because I know we are not alone in this experience. This is happening to families all over Pasadena and we need to put an end to this ongoing injustice.

My grandsons and I have been living at 1900 Lincoln Avenue for the last 6 years. It’s not a fancy place, but it’s our home. The water heater barely works, there’s a big hole in our kitchen floor, another hole in one of our windows, and there are roaches. If I want to turn on the heat, I have to manually connect two wires in the wall, because the thermostat is broken. In the 6 years since we’ve lived there, I have always paid the rent on time. I take care of the yard work without compensation. We have been very dependable and responsible tenants.

Last week, I was shocked to come home to a 60-day notice. We are being kicked out for no reason. 3 months ago, a new owner bought the property. The empty unit next door started getting remodeled with all new appliances, kitchen, shower, A/C, and everything. Our place looks like 1949, and the new unit looks like 2019. The name of the new owner is Gaganbind [Gagan] Naeger, and she is aware of the habitability problems in our home but has done nothing to fix them. I thought maybe she was gonna offer for us to move in to the the new unit, but I was wrong. She never asked us. Instead, she doubled the rent on the new unit, and kicked us out so she can do the same with our place.

Let me read to you the first few sentences from the online listing for the property: “Priced for immediate liquidation. 3 Units in prime rental location. No rent stabilization. Long term tenants. Opportunity to increase the rents. All units are rented with the same occupant for a long time.”

I’m here today because if we had real protections for tenants in Pasadena, this would not be happening to my grandsons and I. Landlords should not be allowed to evict tenants without just cause. Rents should not be allowed to increase astronomically from one year to the next. Because we lack these basic protections, my family is being forced to leave Pasadena to find a place we can afford. We will continue to commute here. My work is here. My grandsons’ friends are here. Our home is still here in Pasadena. But we are being displaced. Pasadena must come together to face this affordable housing crisis. We have to protect our community.

[Nate shared his story at city hall on May 20, 2019.]

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