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Oakland housing state of emergency

Oakland City Council passed an emergency housing moratorium on April 6 that would freeze evictions and prevent rent increases in Oakland for 90 days.

Over 200 people signed up to speak at the city council meeting on April 5, many of which explained that the housing crisis has caused increased rents and is rapidly changing the demographics of Oakland, pushing away the communities of color that have lived in the city for decades. The meeting went past midnight and the city council chose to have a private session Wednesday morning, at which they voted in favor of the moratorium.

Council President Lynette Gibson McElhaney, who brought the proposal to the council, wrote about the purpose of the moratorium in an opinion piece in the East Bay Express.

“The ordinance gives policymakers the ability to complete their deliberations over a range of needed reforms identified in the analytical reports issued by the city,” McElhaney said in the op-ed.

The reforms included revisions to current ordinances, protections for boarding houses, and a local preference ordinance so Oakland people have the first pick to affordable housing in the city.

“During this temporary moratorium, I encourage landlords, tenants, advocates and the public to constructively engage with the council to reform our rent stabilization system so that we can provide real protections to tenants in a manner that is also fair and responsible to landlords” McElhaney wrote.

The current trend according to the city of Oakland rental survey report by the Housing and Community Development Department is that rents are increasing while availability of units is decreasing. KQED also reported that Oakland lost nearly 10 percent of its African American population between 2005 and 2014. Many of the city’s residents are being moved from their roots to cities farther away from their jobs and families, and are forced to share their home in order to afford rent, as a result of the rising prices.

The rise in rent has forced many people within Oakland to share their homes with friends and family.  Chris Vela, a 28 year old man, is currently an Oakland resident and moved here from LA to create a better life.

“I’ve learned to appreciate small victories; even though my living situation sucks, there is an overall purpose to this space,” Vela said.

The next step after the housing moratorium would aim to help people like Vela in creating policies to keep current residents in Oakland.