Demand City of Alameda forgive rents during Covid-19 Pandemic

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The purpose of this petition is to raise awareness about the woefully inadequate rent deferment program in the city of Alameda. As per a letter I received as a tenant in Alameda Point, Vision Property Management in conjunction with the city propose a program whereby tenants managed by Vision Property Management can sign into an agreement to defer April’s rent. Entering into this agreement will contractually obligate tenants to pay an additional ~17% in rent for the duration of the 6 month period prescribed to pay the City back for the month of April. The Alameda Point being one of the most affordable neighborhoods in Alameda also houses the city’s most vulnerable residents. Working people who cannot afford an additional ~17% tacked onto already astronomical Bay Area rent prices. This proposal only offers to protect tenants from paying rent for the month of April, but by the estimates of most experts, this crisis could last for many more months and many of the residents of the point will be faced with the fact that their jobs no longer exist at the end of this crisis. This deferment is contractually binding regardless of what happens come May. When May rolls around, May 1st’s rent will be due, despite the fact that many residents will not have even returned to work. This program is untenable as currently written and it will have the force of contract law behind it. Should you not be able to afford the additional installments at any point in the 6 month period of repayment, you will face possible eviction. Furthermore this agreement should be deemed unenforceable due to many vague terms that state that the city of Alameda can amend the agreement unilaterally by forcing you to sign other supporting documents in addition, I quote:

“If the City elects, you will sign, within ten (10) days of the City’s written request, such other reasonable documents(s) requested by the City to memorialize your obligations under this Repayment Agreement with respect to the Deferred Rent.”

While Prima Facia this term violates the bilateral nature of a contract, it also puts the tenant under duress. The time limits are designed to bully tenants into signing into agreements that are not in their best interest. On multiple occasions the mailer mentions that you have a very limited time to decide what to do and if you do not respond you will lose this opportunity. I realize that many people have likely signed this document by now, but it is of the utmost importance that anybody who has not, does not do so. Covid-19 has presented unusual circumstances for residents of the city, landlords, management companies and the city officials alike and we appreciate the strain that everybody is under. However Vision Property Management in conjunction with the city of Alameda have conspired together to use this crisis to harm the residents of Alameda Point and furthermore any residents anywhere in the city being subjected to similar agreements. This will no doubt be used to remove low income residents from the point so they can continue the cycle of converting low income housing to high priced rental units, not unlike the condo’s already being built on the base. To use a crisis like this to such ends is unconscionable and does literally nothing, maybe less than nothing for the residents. This is a time to call for solidarity. We are all in this together, tenants, landlords, city officials, developers. We are all going to feel the squeeze and to put that financial burden solely on the working class residents of Alameda Point in order to insulate the Management Company and secure the ambitions of the city is an outrage. This measure must be strongly opposed and in it’s place we must demand a freeze on rent for the duration of the Covid-19 outbreak. This is not a negotiable point.

I understand that to other tenants of Alameda Point this may look like a bailout, but I caution you against bargaining your future security for your very temporary peace of mind. A month is not a long time to come up with the additional rent that will be due come May 1st. It is important to mention, that neither the city nor the management company can pursue eviction while Gavin Newsom’s order stands for the duration of the Covid-19 crisis. So if you are in the position that you must leverage your future security against your current security, I suggest saving the rent you would pay to Vision Property Management and the City of Alameda for the deposit you will likely need on a new place when this crisis ends. This measure will result in the eviction of many tenants anyway, so if you are likely to be evicted it would be better to save money in the mean time for the cost of relocating that will likely occur at the end of this crisis. Neither are great options, but with solidarity for our neighbors I believe we can fight for a better deal. We are all in this together now and if the city wants to use this time to pick a fight with it’s residents, not only will we fight back now, we will remember this come election time.

Now the reality is that none of us knows how long this pandemic will last, it could be until the very end of the year, some experts are predicting outbreaks continuously until a vaccine is developed. It could be much shorter, but it also could be much longer. Since none of us can accurately predict the path of this pandemic we need to insist that the city adopt a stronger posture to protect residents from unfair rent hikes and disaster capitalism that seeks to profit off the hardship of city residents. Please sign this petition to tell the city that we will not take this kind of treatment and contact me at: alamedapointadvocate@protonmail.com if you would like to help organize a response to the city.