OP-ED: “The Displacement Crisis Is Tearing Apart Families and Communities”

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The City of Oakland is facing a serious affordable housing crisis, with numerous residents being displaced from their homes.

 

We have a hearing scheduled on the housing crisis on Sept. 30, 5:30 p.m., at Oakland City Hall .I believe it is essential that we take action to protect residents who are at risk of losing their homes, and need affordable housing.

 

The displacement crisis is tearing apart families and communities, and, in many cases, includes people being kicked out of their homes in ways that are illegal. Oakland has laws on the books protecting tenants from unjust evictions, but many do not know about the laws, and they are not adequately enforced.

 

In some cases, tenants are being kicked out due to fake “owner move in” evictions, or simply being told they must leave, and the tenants having no resources to fight wrongful evictions.

 

Meanwhile, when tenants are forced to relocate, they are in some cases given no relocation assistance funds, and in other cases, given an amount that is far too small to be able to cover the costs of relocating.

 

The inadequate relocation requirements also encourage more evictions, and more suffering by tenants.

 

Therefore, I urge that we take the following actions, to immediately address the displacement crisis in Oakland:

 

Amend our relocation assistance requirements to cover the real costs that tenants face when forced to move and adopt an amended ordinance to increase the required relocation assistance amount, and applying it more consistently;

 

Fund a community based outreach strategy to provide public education about laws protecting tenants’ rights; and support enforcement strategies that will provide the enforcement of laws protecting tenants’ rights, discourage unjust evictions, and reduce violations;

 

Promote rapid rehousing for those in danger of homelessness by funding a rental assistance program to enable people to pay first month, last month, and security deposit.

 

Please join us, including at the Sept. 30 hearing to advocate for these and other actions to help respond to the housing crisis.

 

Rebecca Kaplan is Oakland City Councilmember at Large.

 

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