Petition to Prevent Displacement in Oakland
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Oakland and the greater Bay Area is currently in the midst of some of the greatest rent inflation and displacement rates in the country. Gentrification in Oakland has brought upper class residents into historically lower-income neighborhoods; but as a result of this process residents of Oakland are struggling to afford rising rent costs as landlords displace tenants in order to raise their rents, catering to higher class residents that can afford to live in the neighborhood. Gentrification harms lower-income and working class people, and disproportionately affects African Americans and other marginalized groups. Additionally, when neighborhoods are gentrified, the culture of the long-time inhabitants of the area is replaced by the culture of the newcomers, wiping away Oakland’s historic musical and artistic culture. Displacement forces residents out of their homes and into the street, separates family and friends, and breaks apart communities. For Oakland residents making minimum wage, being displaced, along with a lack of affordable housing and the mortgage crisis, pushes many of them into homelessness. According to the East Oakland Community Project, 6% of Alameda County's households pay more than 50% of their income on housing, and the EOCT estimates that if rent prices continue to increase as a result of gentrification, many of these families and residents will become homeless. In addition, rent increases can force out residents on a fixed income, such as teachers and seniors. Gentrification and displacement has already impacted Oakland tremendously, and at this point it’s clear something must be done to prevent the displacement of Oakland residents. In a survey we conducted about gentrification in Oakland, 89% of the 87 respondents believed that the city of Oakland is taking insufficient action to address Gentrification. We have created a plan which we believe can help reduce the harmful impacts of displacement in Oakland.
Based on the displacement of Oakland residents and the other harmful effects of Gentrification in Oakland; We would like to see the introduction of an inclusionary housing bill that would provide incentive for developers to include housing that is affordable for lower income tenants. The incentive would be in the form of a small deduction on taxes for developers who build housing that is affordable for low income tenants. The amount of affordable units would be proportional to the size of the development so that small developers will be affected less. In order to qualify for the deductions at least 5% of the units in the development would have to be renting for at least 30% less than the household income of the current residents. However, if the residents are making more than 70% of the area's average income than the unit will not count towards the 5% in order to avoid landlords renting out the “affordable units” to high income residents who could afford market priced housing. With this action in place, residents who are displaced from their neighborhood would still be able to afford a place to live in Oakland. This would hopefully give struggling families an option other than homelessness or moving away, while simultaneously not scaring developers away. We believe that a law such as this one could lessen the rampant rent increases and provide low income Oaklanders a place to live, as well as save our unique Oakland culture.
Gabey Kaufman-Cohen and Julian Mayotte
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