Town Business: Oakland Seeks $65 Million for Affordable Housing and the City Council Debates Relocation Assistance for Tenants


The Oakland City Council is reconvening tonight after a week of cancelled meetings due to the municipal employees' strike. The city's two largest unions, SEIU 1021 and IFPTE Local 21 still haven't agreed with Oakland on terms of a new contract, but the parties are in mediation right now.

In the meantime...

Affordable housing: Oakland is hoping to obtain up to $65 million in state Strategic Growth Council grant money to help fund four affordable housing projects that would add 346 below market-rate units to the city's stock.

The Growth Council's affordable housing program was set up using money raised from the state's cap-and-trade pollution credit auctions. Major CO2 emitters purchase the credits. The goal is to help cities build denser infill housing that's accessible to transit, thereby reducing carbon emissions.

The application deadline for Oakland is Jan. 16. Projects that could benefit from the money include former Black Panther Elaine Brown's 78-unit "Oakland and the World" complex at 1664 7th St.; a 50-unit apartment complex on San Pablo Avenue that Satellite Affordable Housing Associates is developing; a 58-unit project called "Coliseum Place" being developed by Resources for Community Development at 905 72nd Avenue; and 160 units planned for phase II-B of the Fruitvale Transit Village by Bridge Housing and the Unity Council.

No fault eviction assistance: Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan wants to extend relocation payment assistance to renters who are displaced by no-fault owner move-in evictions and condo conversions. Renters of studios and one-bedroom units would get $6,500 if forced to leave. Renters with two and three-bedroom units would get $8,000 and $9,875, respectively. Kaplan's proposal would apply to all rental units in the city, including single-family homes.

The relocation amounts are based on the cost of finding a new place to live in the East Bay rental housing market, one of the most expensive places to live in the nation.

Kaplan's bill was delayed last month when Councilmember Annie Campbell Washington pulled it from the council's agenda after a landlord group expressed concerns about it.

The Oakland-Berkeley Association of Realtors wrote the council and requested that tenants be required to live in a property for a certain amount of time before they're eligible for relocation assistance.

Last Friday, Campbell Washington submitted amendments to Kaplan's legislation that would do this. Her version of the bill phases in relocation payment amounts with new tenants getting one-third of the total amount if they're evicted. They'd have to live in the unit for over one year before becoming eligible for two-thirds of the total relocation payment. And after two years they'd be able to receive the total $6,500 to $9,875 if they're displaced by an owner move-in or condo conversion.