Ingrid lives in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Boyle Heights with her two cats, Moonie and Aurora. Our staff members first met Ingrid, Moonie and Aurora in 2013, through Pets for Life, our program that focuses on providing access to care to people and communities who have financial or geographical barriers to providing care for their pets. Over the last decade we have provided a variety of services for her cats, and in that time, we’ve also learned about her housing challenges. Ingrid has faced the reality of losing her home more than once. The first time a property manager threatened Ingrid with eviction because of her cats, we were able to facilitate a solution through a partnership with another organization, having Ingrid’s cats recognized as Emotional Support Animals. Recently, Ingrid again faced eviction because her cats needed updated vaccinations. We were able to provide the services, which allowed her to resolve the matter with her landlord. 

Ingrid’s cats are her family, and she is constantly worried about the possibility of them all ending up homeless. She isn’t alone. Many states, such as California, are increasingly becoming unaffordable to live in for most of the population. It’s still tougher for people with pets; pet-inclusive, affordable housing is almost impossible to find, and those people seeking such housing with their companion animals live in a constant state of anxiety about being turned out of their homes. 

Millions of renters in the U.S. have pets, but pet restrictions is a primary barrier for many in securing housing. Many rental properties throughout the country impose arbitrary restrictions on the breed or weight of companion animals, and they frequently impose exorbitant, often non-refundable, fees on tenants with pets. The additional costs of pet rent and pet deposits only add to the already high monthly rental costs. These pet policies adversely affect a tenant’s ability to gain access to housing, impede people’s chances at acquiring affordable and stable places to live, and spur pet relinquishment. Housing insecurity remains one of the top reasons why pets are relinquished to animal shelters, and in California, animal shelters are already struggling with overcrowding and lack of resources.

Through Pets for Life we were able to step in and help resolve Ingrid’s situation. But a systemic solution to the lack of pet-inclusive, affordable housing is urgently needed. With our support and advocacy, in 2022, California passed landmark legislation to expand pet-inclusive policies to state-funded, low-income housing. This year, we are sponsoring a bill, AB 2216, with Assemblymember Matt Haney, D-San Francisco, that would create better to access rental housing in California by prohibiting blanket pet bans and requiring landlords to have reasonable justification for not allowing a pet in a rental unit. The bill would also prohibit landlords from charging additional pet rent and fees, one more way in which it supports more pet inclusive options for tenants. 

While California isn’t the only state that has taken steps to recognize the importance of the human-animal bond and its relationship to the housing crisis, it’s the first to introduce a bill with such broad pro-animal measures for renters. We have also worked in other states to remove barriers for renters with pets by advocating against breed-specific stipulations in rental properties and by increasing the availability of affordable housing that accepts pets. Several states have introduced legislation that has yet to pass. So, there has been a lot of positive progress, but there’s still work to be done.

Put simply, animal and human welfare cannot be viewed independently. If we want to protect companion animals, we must protect the people who love them. 

You can get engaged in the issue of pet-inclusive housing through our advocate toolkits. You can also donate to these and our other efforts for animals

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