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Indybay Feature
New Figures Offer Grim Picture Of Housing Crisis
by Lynda Carson (lyndacarson [at]
Wednesday Oct 3rd, 2001 5:42 AM
New Figures Reveal That
Oakland Renters Are Being Swindled More Than Their
Counterparts In The Rest Of The Nation
New Figures Offer Grim Picture Of The Housing Crisis
By Lynda Carson 10/3/01

Oakland, Ca-Oakland rents are skyrocketing to the stars along with the
other cities in the East Bay. According to the latest stats provided by Rental Solutions, the newest rule of thumb for the land lords in the East Bay is that rental rates are based upon the formula of a minimum of $700.00 per person, per unit, per month. This does not bode well for the concept of having roomates to spread the costs of renting. Many are stunned by relocation costs which may include deposits equal to a months rent, plus first months rent, and last months rent in advance. Making matters worse, in Oakland the interest rates on the deposits are stolen from the renters by the land lords, and the anger keeps mounting as the situation grows worse by leaps and bounds. Oakland has over 200,000 rental units, and the unenforced rent laws have the renters livid at how unfair the system has become.

In addition to the grim stats above for renters, the newest figures released from the National Low Incom Housing Coalition reveal that on average a person needs to earn a minimum of $23.90 per hour to rent a 2 bdrm unit in Oakland at Fair Market Rents, and $33.60 per hour to rent the same in San Francisco; which both figures are much lower than what the current Market Rates are going for in the same areas. Fair Market Rents are based upon a HUD Formula which is quite different (lower) than the formula used for the so-called current Market Rates. Section 8 Vouchers/Certificates from the Federal Government
have payment standards that are based upon the Fair Market Rent formula, as
a means to provide subsidized housing for low-incom renters.

For those wondering what this means beyond feeling at the mercy of a ruthless system run by the ruling class, the following may help to create a broader picture. Oakland has rent laws which often are not enforced or are totally ignored, such as the 2 Year Moratorium on rent increases after certain types of evictions. The result has been the unlawful rent gains obtained by ruthless land lords who evict for profit, and the creation of a system that actually protects the lawless land lords and locks into place the unlawful rent increases 30 days after the new renter moves in. Oakland rent laws are oppressive, and do not allow the renters to file claims at Small Claims Court even if the renter had proof of being swindled by the unlawful rent increases on a month to month basis. The figures below may offer an insight into the dollars involved despite the fact that Oakland has a 3% cap on annual rent increases, and a 2 Year Moratorium on rent increases after certain types of evictions in place.

Based upon a City of Oakland Survey: (source was Homefinders records)
During 1998, the median price for a studio apt in Oakland was $540.00 per month, 1 bdrm rental unit\'s were $725.00 per month, and 2 bdrm unit\'s averaged out at $875.00 per month.

During 1999, the median price for a studio apt in Oakland was $713.00 per month, 1 bdrm rental units were $850.00 per month, and 2 bdrm unit\'s averaged out at $1,050.00 per month. The gains during one year from 1998
to 1999 amounted to a 32% increase for studios, 17% increase for 1 bdrm\'s, and 20% increase for 2 bdrm\'s. This was during the 3% cap on annual rent increases.

Based upon figures from Rental Resolutions, during the year 2000 in Oakland, the minimum Market Rates averaged out at; $800.00-$900.00 for studios,
$850.00-$1100.00 for 1 bdrm units, and $1200.00-$1500.00 for 2 bdrm units.

Current minimum Market Rate averages in Oakland/Area for 2001, are presently going for; $850-$950 for studios, $1150-$1300 1 bdrm units, $1600-$1800 for 2 bdrm units. The above source of figures again is from Rental Solutions. Indeed, to renters these are some disturbing figures.

The latest figures for 2001 from the National Low Incom Housing Coalition place Oakland as number four on the nation\'s list of highest rents in Metropolitan Areas, and San Francisco came in as number one. The newest figures also reveal that among the 9 most expensive cities/areas on the list, that their positions would have all remained same during the past 2 years if Oakland
would have remained in the same position as last year. Instead, Oakland jumped from position number 7 to position number 4 during the past year, and this is evidence that the land lords are swindling more from Oakland renters than any other spot in the nation.

From another viewpoint, other sources reveal that last year the rental rates rose 21% in Oakland, and the occupancy rate stands at 96.7%. Overall in the Bay Area, during the last 2 years the annual rent growth pace has shot up to 30-40%.

Oakland renters are presently very concerned about a recent Task Force proposal to replace the 3% cap on annual rent increases with a new formula
that will be hooked to the Consumer Price Index. Those looking closely at the numbers are convinced that if the City Council replaces the 3% cap on annual rent increases with the proposed Task Force formula, rents may rise another 18% for many thousands of renters due to Banked Increases. Past experience reveals that evictions shall sweep through the lower incom renters first because they will be priced out of the market, and homelessness shall increase to levels never seen before in recent times. Local attorney Bob Salinas says that rent laws in Oakland seem to be going backwards lately, and Anne Omura of the Eviction Defense Center says that the Task Force proposals are devastating for all renters of Oakland and she fears that there will not be any low incom renters left to defend if the Task Force proposals are enacted by the City Council. Oakland renters are gearing up for a fierce battle at Oakland City Hall to oppose the proposed Task Force formula to raise the rents above the 3% annual cap.

The Oakland City Council is to vote upon the Task Force proposals sometime during October 2001, and efforts are underway to convince renters to lobby the Council Members to save the 3% cap on annual rent increases. The Task Force proposals replacing the 3% cap on annual rent increases go into effect after January 1, 2002, if passed by the City Council.

by Anti-Capitalist
Wednesday Oct 3rd, 2001 9:13 AM
No doubt this means homelessness is also skyrocketing in Oakland and the East Bay-there's no way it couldn't be under these circumstances. Yet more evidence this barbaric capitalist system-especially globalization-has got to go!
by Judi
Wednesday Oct 3rd, 2001 11:14 AM
I'd bet the government is the problem here again, as usual. They probably have too many restrictions, rules, regulations, etc. that makes housing so expensive. In a free society there would be cheap (but nice) housing for less ambitious or lucky people and expensive housing also. They have set it up (somehow, must be the government, the only monopoly that could do this) that we have to work almost 24 hours a day just to pay the rent! It's really crazy. If they would allow the people to fix this, we could do in a day! But the government messes everything up! Get them out of the way so we can fix things!
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