November 10, 2015 > Letter to the Editor:Housing Crisis
Letter to the Editor:Housing Crisis
The City of Fremont is facing an unprecedented housing crisis, one that disproportionately affects low-income people and people of color. In a city where 37 percent of residents are renters, 42 percent pay more than 30 percent of their income on rent. A two-bedroom apartment can cost a working class family upwards of $2,736 a month, an increase of $668 from January 2014 to August 2015. Low-income households are even more likely to be rent-burdened, with two-thirds facing unaffordable rents. Forbes Magazine names the Oakland-Hayward-Fremont metro area as the second worst market for renters. Additionally, Fremont has the second fastest rising rents in California behind Sunnyvale.
Recent research by the Urban Displacement Project at the University of California, Berkeley (http://www.urbandisplacement.org/) shows that Alameda County and parts of Fremont are at very high risk of exclusion and gentrification. The Rise Fremont Coalition believes that we must do something to prevent residents from being pushed out of the city. We all have an interest in healthy and stable communities.
While we applaud the existence of the Residential Rent Increase Dispute Resolution Ordinance (RRIDRO), anecdotal evidence and municipal reporting point to this policy not being enough to meet the current crisis. A three-year summary of RRIDROÕs performance reveals that a mandatory mediation ordinance if ineffective, especially one that does not require an annual limit on rent increases. Many tenants cite not utilizing RRIDRO due to real and perceived landlord retaliation. Further, the burden falls on tenants to initiate a mediation process and request that a landlord willingly adjust rent prices that are being contested. RRIDRO reform is not the solution, as it would still leave tenant grievances under a voluntary program.
Rent increases and mass evictions are disrupting the lives of individuals and families and destabilizing our community, as working class families are forced to abandon their jobs, schools, and faith communities. These families are essential to the fabric and stability of Fremont. The housing crisis is an important opportunity for an entire community to be a model to shape the region on the basis of inclusion, equity and prosperity for all residents.
We are asking the Fremont City Council and staff to seriously consider some kind of rent control/just cause eviction ordinance. Rent control simply puts an annual limit on the rate of rent increases, usually linked to the rate of inflation. A just cause eviction ordinance would require that landlords give a reason for eviction, such as violation of the lease or criminal activity. Calls for rent control and eviction protections are growing around the region because people recognize that while they are not silver bullets, they are essential if we are serious about protecting our communities. It is time for the City of Fremont to show leadership and take meaningful action.
Please join us at the next meeting of RISE Fremont (Residents Insisting on Social Equity) at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, November 18 at the Holy Spirit de Souza bldg, 37588 Fremont Blvd.