By Haqq Shabazz
On every street, in every public meeting, weekends and weeknights, people are talking about the lack of affordable housing and the resulting displacement.
Oakland now has the seventh most expensive rents and is acutely suffering from this issue.
The average one bedroom apartment currently rents for about $2,025 per month, while Oakland’s median household income is $54,618.
To compound the problem, the may actively courts large national developers to put up class A buildings that will rent at $3,000 or more per unit.
Over 14,000 of these expensive units are in the development pipeline, with prices Oakland residents cannot afford, bringing in new residents and pricing out Oakland’s long-term African American population.
One developer who is doing things differently is Danny Haber. At first, he has focused on revitalizing buildings. Two of his buildings, like the Ghostship, were formerly deathtraps.
Haber is not asking for tax dollars to transform dangerous housing to desirable housing and is working with former residents so they can come back at the same prices they previously paid.
This represents a game changer for development in Oakland and a model that can be applied to other buildings.
In West Oakland the African American population used to be 65 percent – now it is down to 25 percent .
Haber and his development firm oWow are building, 3-4 bedroom apartments targeted towards workforce housing and families. Units feature a kitchen, living room and two bathrooms. Every square inch is designed to keep rents affordable.
These innovatively designed units are allowing Oakland to stay Oakland, enabling new housing to keep neighborhoods diverse and prevent continued displacement .
Compared to all the Class A developments approved in Oakland, Haber and oWow’s units offer a refreshing anti gentrification alternative .
“We seek to build unsubsidized affordable housing solution that will shift the conversation from desperation to hope enabling people to focus on achieving the American dream instead of where am I going to be able to afford to live next month,” said Haber.