Improving Indoor Air Quality—Community Spotlight

Strategic Actions for a Just Economy

Strategic Actions for a Just Economy (SAJE), a South-Central Los Angeles-based organization, has been advocating for economic justice in the city for over 28 years, focusing on tenant rights, healthy housing, and equitable development. SAJE‘s mission is to build community leadership and power for economic justice. Since housing is the bedrock of a community, SAJE strives to achieve this mission by anchoring community members in safe, healthy, and affordable housing. SAJE primarily serves extremely low-income tenants, mostly monolingual Spanish-speaking immigrant families, and some single, older African Americans.

What has been a win/top accomplishment that makes you proud?
In 2022, residents, with the support of SAJE, successfully advocated for the County of Los Angeles to begin to reform and enhance its housing code enforcement process. A motion was passed unanimously by the Board of Supervisors on April 5, 2022, that contained provisions to establish a proactive and systematic inspection system as well as a building acquisition program, a centralized web interface for tenants, enhanced fines that will go to abating indoor air toxins, and more streamlined internal referral processes for complaints. On April 16, 2024, the new code enforcement system, known as the Rental Housing Habitability Program (RHHP), was unanimously passed and adopted by the Board of Supervisors.

How has your organization’s work made a difference for healthy housing in your community?
SAJE’s work is an unusual combination of direct service work, grassroots education and organizing, and policy development and advocacy. We reach thousands of tenants a year through our Tenant Action Clinic, the Stay Housed LA Program, REAP, our climate mitigation education, and other efforts. Tenants who join SAJE as members form resident committees that guide policy development and provide feedback on our recommendations. SAJE members also meet with elected officials and city staff to explain their concerns and advocate for solutions they have proposed. Our unique model of community organizing coupled with tenants’ rights education and leadership development has garnered significant victories for residents, including groundbreaking work with the Los Angeles City Attorney’s office to prosecute and convict slumlords in Los Angeles. SAJE has contributed to the City of Los Angeles’ Health Element, Housing Element, Tenant Anti-Harassment Ordinance, South and Southeast LA Community Plans, and plans for affirmatively furthering fair housing. We also have practical experience implementing code enforcement programs, and for over five years have been a contractor with the City of Los Angeles as tenant outreach specialists for the Rent Escrow Account Program (REAP), educating tenants about code violations and their rights and options.

What is the most important thing people should know about your organization or your work?
SAJE has been committed to healthy housing work as part of an effort to build community leadership and power for economic justice. Over the long term, we look to change systems so that tenants have greater assurance that their homes will be well maintained and that their indoor air quality will be good. To realize that goal, we have worked with tenants to advocate for themselves and their families with municipal officials at the city, county, and state levels. Addressing issues with the LA County Rental Housing Habitability program has been a key step in that work.

What do you think is the most pressing challenge facing your organization and/or the community you serve?
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health cites poor air quality (along with instability and unaffordability) as a key housing-related health issue facing the community. The majority of the county’s population is composed of tenants, and they have historically been more likely to reside in deteriorated and dilapidated rental properties that expose them to air contamination, resulting in high rates of asthma and other respiratory illnesses. For over a decade, SAJE has educated tenants about building codes so they can hold their landlords accountable and collaborated with municipal officials to improve code enforcement.

How did being a part of an NCHH mini-grantee cohort and TA experience support and advance your work?
Through the TA experience, SAJE received valuable resources and actionable advice that assisted in the resolution of campaign issues.

What is the most important lesson or piece of advice you would share with others doing this kind of work?
One lesson learned is that it is critical to meet frequently with the County departments and other Supervisorial offices. SAJE has learned how much bureaucracy can cause delays, and that we need to create a greater sense of urgency among departments and Supervisorial staff. If we were more consistent with our engagement, we might have avoided delays in our work.

To learn more about SAJE’s work, please visit SAJE’s website or contact us at


Latest page update: June 7, 2024.