Oakland, CA: The Block by Block Organizing Network and the Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club today announce support for City Council President Lynette McElhaney’s proposals to Declare a Housing State of Emergency and impose a moratorium on rent increases above the CPI granted by the existing rent ordinance and on no fault evictions for tenants under the Just Cause Ordinance, including extensive rehabs.
We applaud the John George Club, the Oakland Alliance, and the Oakland Tenants’ Union for taking these demands, which we began making in November of 2015, and converting them into an ordinance-all of our grassroots organizing efforts coalesced as a result of the Oakland Post Salon -but we see this as just the first step of solving the ongoing crisis.
Housing experts say that an estimated 44,000 units will not be covered by these measures. Our city must develop a fund that can aid these tenants and homeowners at risk of displacement. We might start by demanding that banks- which get city business-help fund such a need since they do not now provide loans or other services to the majority of Oakland neighborhoods. We should also consider passing an Eviction Registry so that we know whether evictions are legal and what we can do to prevent them.
Additionally, our organizations will work with Oakland city leaders and other cities to demand that the outdated Costa-Hawkins law, which exempts more recently built housing from renter protections, be reversed by the state legislature.
We know that tenants are being evicted against the law, sometimes with the help of the city bureaucracy. For instance, when tenants have paid rent for years while living in a warehouse that did not meet city standards, shouldn’t the city have some responsibility to work with the tenants before red tagging the building and issuing them a last minute eviction as they did at 1919 Market Street?
There is much more work to be done-passing adequate impact fees similar to other bay area cities, not adjusting affordability levels to accommodate higher income residents before providing for those in the most need, strengthening condo conversion laws now, and increasing the percentage of boomerang funding available to build affordable housing. Providing a timeline for these and other items already noted in the Housing Equity Roadmap is paramount, and we will be asking for that timeline at the City Council tonight.
Contact: Pamela Drake, 510-593-3721 or Sharon Rose-510-915-6894