Activism

fruitvale residents find success in their rent strike

March 11, 2020
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Recently, residents in Oakland  have been protesting poor housing conditions. The situation is so dire that radical moves have been made to ensure humanity for tenants who deserve more from their realtors. While structural change is needed, in the meantime grassroots organizations and brave individuals are making sure the voices of those in need are not being drowned out.

Living ain’t cheap in Oakland. The median house sale price is $765,350 and median rent is $3,000 a month — and the prices just keep rising. According to the US Census Bureau, for every homeless person in the city there are four vacant homes. The city’s homeless population is currently 151,000 and has risen 16% this past year alone!

The Huffington Post has reported on one activist Francisco Perez, who may not call himself an activist but certainly is. The retired roofer has lived in a one-bedroom apartment in Fruitvale with his wife Graciella for the past 20 years and is one of many fighting against rent spikes and the lack of infrastructure care in Oakland.

For about four months, Perez and fellow tenants went on strike against the poor housing conditions in their 29th Avenue apartment complex. They live in units with rotted wood, broken drawers, dirty carpets and mold in the bathrooms. Though their landlord requested a raise in rent, none of these issues have yet to be repaired. And so, the building of longtime residents will no longer be bullied but instead refuse to pay the rent until the landlord sells the building to them. Seven of the fourteen tenants went on strike and remained so until an agreement with the landlord was made on February 27th.

Because of this brave community who refused to be pushed out, more can have hope. On February 27th, the local news announced that the tenants (former) landlord agreed to let them buy the building. The group of hopefuls were helped along the way to their success by the greater community around them. It took the courage of these brave 7 units to protest and seek help from a local community land trust and a nonprofit that focuses on acquiring land for the permanent benefit of low-income communities for this to become a reality. This story can inspire other “non-activists” to find their power and empower their neighbors to create the change they all deserve.

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