Affordable Housing Crisis in Oakland

Rents are on the rise in Oakland, and that is forcing good people out of the city.  One bedroom apartments in Oakland are now going for a minimum of $1,300 or so, and they ask that the tenant make up to three times that amount in their salary.   That would require a salary of $3,900,  which would be about $24.75 an hour.  The minimum wage in Oakland is $12.25.   That is a big discrepancy in regards to what people are getting paid and what it costs to move in to a rental unit.  Folks are forced to either find roommates or they must leave the city entirely.  I don’t ever remember it being like this and I grew up in this city.   Change is coming, and for some of us, it is going to be harder than we expected to make ends meet.

photo courtesy of medium.com

photo courtesy of medium.com

On the KeepOaktownAffordable website http://www.keepoaktownaffordable.com/ it states: “It is no secret that Oakland rents are skyrocketing, pushing out families and young people. Oakland had the 2nd and 3rd highest national rent increases in 2014, according to Reis data referenced in a recent BizJournal article.”

What does this mean?  It means that families, as well as mothers, fathers, students, and artists are being displaced due to high rents.  Per the November 2014 article “Oakland Rents Outpace San Francisco as Hipsters Relocate,” Alison Vekshin writes, “Oakland had the highest apartment rent growth in the U.S., at 9.1 percent in the year ending Sept. 30, outpacing San Francisco’s 7.4 percent, and tying New York for the tightest occupancy, according to MPF Research, a Carrollton, Texas-based rental-housing market-analysis company.”

Oakland tying New York City for the tightest occupancy is shocking to say the least.   It is sad to see people who have lived here for years  being forced out of the area.

An example of the human side of being displaced is that of my 10- year old neighbor who is worried “if he is going to be around next year,” because his family is losing their home because of predatory lending practices.

Per the Debt.org website https://www.debt.org/credit/predatory-lending/“Predatory lending is any lending practice that imposes unfair or abusive loan terms on a borrower. It is also any practice that convinces a borrower to accept unfair terms through deceptive, coercive, exploitative or unscrupulous actions for a loan that a borrower doesn’t need, doesn’t want or can’t afford.”

How sad that families are being displaced because these lending practices were set up for them to fail.  One must be very, very careful when refinancing ones home.  I suggest going for the fixed mortage rate whenever possible, so that there are no unexpected increases that you are not prepared for.

In the East Bay Express article “Oakland’s Top Housing Official:  There is no affordable housing crisis,” Darwin Bond Graham writes that Oakland’s City Council “hosted an hours long special hearing on the topic of affordable housing. Dozens of Oaklanders told the council they were experiencing shockingly high increases in their rents, and some spoke about being recently displaced, or facing the prospect of being pushed out of Oakland because of the increasingly expensive housing market.”

I’d like to know how and why the city is allowing these high rent increases?   Who is looking out for the low- income residents of this city?  Will there be affordable housing made available to residents of this community, and when?

In the San Francisco Business Times article “6 Ways Oakland is trying to fix the housing crisis,” Roland Li writes that Oakland’s Mayor Libby Schaaf said in a statement, “While our region is experiencing tremendous economic growth, housing production is not keeping pace with the escalated demand, nor is sufficient housing affordable to many of our existing residents.”

I am grateful that at least the mayor is honest about the current housing crisis in Oakland, and I really hope that she and the city can find a way to protect the low-income residents of this city, and provide some affordable housing that is safe, and decent to look at.  The beautiful thing about Oakland is its diversity.  We cannot and must not lose that.

 

 

 

About Sabah Williams

I am a mixed race woman who grew up in a Native-American community in Oakland, Ca. I attended many Native-American ceremonies, Pow Wows, and cultural events. I am very proud of my Native-American heritage, and I also hope to learn more about my African-American side of the family. View all posts by Sabah Williams →

One Comment

  1. Ms. McDonald

    My family is being forced out of Oakland and I’m really upset about it. My parents came here from Texas 50 years ago and now we may have to go back. It really is sad to see what the U.S has/is turning into. Everywhere I look, families are being thrown out and I’ve been trying to get out before we end up homeless for almost 2 years. We have Section8 so that put even more pressure on us because landlords have also stopped accepting it. I notice that the rental terms are nearly impossible for people to meet now. I knew once I saw “credit score must be 600 or greater” that this was a classic case of gentrification. Most low income people have poor credit so that automatically disqualifies us. I’m just scared to see what is going to happen to all of us because it’s happening nationwide.

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