Connect with us

Housing

Faith Leaders Move Ahead on Creative Homeless Solution; Schaaf reluctant to back tiny homes on church properties

Published

on

Members and supporters attend March 8 meeting of Interfaith Council of Alameda County (ICAC). Rev. Ken Chambers is shown at bottom, second from right.

The City of Oakland and Mayor Libby Schaaf have been reluctant to embrace a solution for homelessness that is being promoted by the Interfaith Council of Alameda County (ICAC). However, the project is moving ahead with the determination and creativity of faith leaders, community advocates, city council members and members of the Alameda County Board of Supervisors.

Under the plan backed by ICAC and others, local churches would lease their parking lots for temporary housing and safe car-parking areas, including bathrooms and garbage disposal, for homeless residents.  Nonprofits, the county and other organizations would help cover the costs, and the city would provide the insurance coverage.

The churches, including as many as seven in West Oakland, would hire a coordinator who would work nightly to handle any issues that might come up at the encampments.  One obstacle to the plan arose when the City Attorney Barbara Parker said money could not be spent for insurance.

ICAC members devised a work-around that would allow the project to continue.

Proposing an alternative, Mayor Schaaf has told ICAC members that she prefers to build permanent affordable housing on church property sites. Homeless advocates say long-term solutions are good, but action is needed now.

“ICAC supports affordable housing on church properties long term, but short term temporary small houses must happen immediately,” said West Oakland Pastor Ken Chambers, founder and president of ICAC.

“Churches have a vast amount of property in Oakland that is not being utilized during the week, especially at night hours,” he said.  These are prime locations for homeless encampments for small houses and safe carparks.”

The churches also have facilities that can be used for classroom space for job and career training, as well as to provide county health and human services.

Pastor Chambers said he has visited homeless encampments, where he saw that many of the homeless were elderly.

“There are 3,000 unsheltered homeless living in Oakland, not counting those who  are a step away from being out on the streets,” he said.

“This crisis did not happen overnight,” he continued. “It is a slow-moving disaster that has been growing for years.”

Pastor Chambers said ICAC has met with all the members of the City Council, and they are supporting the concept of the project.  Especially helpful have been Councilmembers Rebecca Kaplan, Annie Campbell Washington, Abel Guillén and Noel Gallo and Alameda County Supervisors Nate Miley, Keith Carson and Wilma Chan.

Leaders of ICAC say it is crucial right now to let the homeless know that Oaklanders welcome them as part of the city and that residents demonstrate their humanity through actions that show they care about their neighbors in need.

On Good Friday, March 30, ICAC will meet at the Corinthian Baptist Church 920 Castro St. in Oakland, and march to downtown and West Oakland homeless encampment sites with care packages.

Among those participating in the march will be Rev. Chauncey Mathews of Corinthian Baptist; Rev. Jim Hopkin, pastor of Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church; Rev. Thomas Harris, Pleasant Grove Baptist Church; Rev. Scott Denman, rector of St. John’s Oakland Episcopal Church; Blasé Bova, executive director St. Vincent de Paul;  as well as Councilmembers Campbell Washington, Gallo and Kaplan.
“We will meet, have prayer and instructions, then march out to the homeless encampment sites with the care packages,” said Pastor Chambers.
Mayor Schaaf did not respond to a request for comment.

 

For more information call Rev. Ken Chambers, ICAC president, at 510-239-6969 kenchambers1@yahoo.com interfaithac.org

Community

Longtime Landlords to Pay City $3.9 Million for Tenants’ Rights Violations

Parker’s office said the Manns subjected tenants at the six properties to serious health and safety risks. The defendants rented properties in substandard condition, including properties neither intended nor approved for housing, the city attorney’s office said.  

Published

on

Permanent Supportive Housing for former homeless people in San Francisco.

Two rental property owners and/or their companies will pay the city of Oakland more than $3.9 million for violating the rights of tenants, Oakland City Attorney Barbara Parker’s Office announced Monday.

The city of Oakland sued Baljit Singh Mann and Surinder Mann and two of their companies Dodg Corporation and Sbmann2, LLC, according to court documents in the matter.

An Alameda County Superior Court decision September 1 following a trial, forces the defendants to also provide relocation payments to tenants displaced unlawfully from six rental properties, which were at issue in the case brought by the city.

Parker’s office said the Manns subjected tenants at the six properties to serious health and safety risks. The defendants rented properties in substandard condition, including properties neither intended nor approved for housing, the city attorney’s office said.

The defendants rented the six properties to people who were predominantly low-income immigrants and some who did not speak English as their first language, according to Parker’s office.

But following a trial that started in April and the judge’s September 1 decision, the Manns now must comply with health, safety, and tenant protection laws regarding all their properties and pay the city and former tenants, Parker’s office said.

“Victory in this case means that tenants in Oakland do not have to choose between their fundamental rights and having a roof over their head at any cost,” City Attorney Barbara Parker said in a statement.

“Tenants’ rights do matter–to the city, to the people, and to the courts,” Parker said. “No longer will businesses like Dodg. Corporation be able to run roughshod over the people relying on them for shelter, and no longer will landlords feel the same impunity to outright ignore their legal obligations under our local laws.”

The Manns for years owned and operated about 60 residential rental properties in Oakland and owned 70 or more other properties in the city, according to Parker’s office.

City attorneys said the model used by the Manns and at least two of their companies allowed them to profit through renting dilapidated and uninhabitable units to people who were desperate for affordable housing and would be unable to defend their rights as tenants.

The fire risk in some units was severe and imminent, according to the City Attorney’s office.
Parker’s office said the Manns violated the law even further by failing to make relocation payments to tenants who were displaced because their units were unsafe to live in.

Judge Brad Seligman held in his State of Decision, that the Manns and their companies named in the lawsuit, violated Oakland’s Tenant Protection Ordinance, did so in bad faith, and created a public nuisance, according to Parker’s office.

Three attempts to reach Baljit Singh Mann on Tuesday were unsuccessful.

Continue Reading

Community

About $200 Million Becomes Available to Bay Area for More Homekey Projects

Earlier this year, Newsom signed a housing and homelessness funding package that provided $12 billion to alleviate homelessness in the state.

Published

on

Tents under the Guadalupe Freeway near San Jose Diridon Station, in San Jose on May 25, 2021. (Harika Maddala/Bay City News)

Bay Area cities, counties, tribal entities, and housing authorities have the chance this year to apply for an estimated $200 million in grant funds for housing the unhoused following the release of $1.45 billion by the state Thursday.

More money will likely be available next year as part of the state’s overall $2.75 billion expansion package for the Homekey program, which provides money to rehabilitate hotels, motels, and other buildings to provide homes for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness.

The money will allow for the creation of up to 14,000 more permanent, long-term housing units for unhoused Californians or those facing homelessness in the state.

“California is moving with unprecedented speed to house people experiencing homelessness, through Homekey,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a statement. “We are going all in on solutions that work — tackling the homelessness crisis head-on with a constructive, compassionate approach and a focus on serving those with the most acute behavioral health needs.”

According to county counts of people suffering from homelessness in 2019, more than 26,000 lived in the Bay Area. According to the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, roughly 162,000 Californians were experiencing homelessness on any given day as of January 2020.

About 52,000 of those were individuals suffering from chronic homelessness, which is homelessness for a year or longer or someone who has a disability and has had at least four bouts of homelessness in three years.

Homekey has been successful in the Bay Area. In Oakland, for example, a college residence hall was rehabilitated for formerly homeless residents, opening around Christmastime last year.

The project was completed more quickly than some people thought possible. Newsom has touted the speed at which Homekey projects are done.

Since July 2020, Homekey has led to the creation of 6,000 affordable housing units statewide, according to Newsom’s office. Ninety-four projects across the state closed escrow last year, the governor’s office said.

Earlier this year, Newsom signed a housing and homelessness funding package that provided $12 billion to alleviate homelessness in the state.

“This administration has set a goal of functionally ending family homelessness in five years, and that’s why investments in programs like Homekey are so critical,” said Gustavo Velasquez, director of the state’s Department of Housing and Community Development, in a statement.

But Newsom is facing a recall. Election Day is Tuesday. The $12 billion homelessness package was part of his California Comeback Plan, which aims to reverse the effects the COVID-19 pandemic on the state’s economy. Newsom has faced criticism by some over the way he has handled the state’s response to the pandemic.

Continue Reading

Community

City Wins Case Against Local Real Estate Empire for Systemic Tenants’ Rights Violations

The September 1 decision represents a significant triumph for the city in a case brought several years ago against the owners of a prominent local real estate empire for systematically violating the rights of tenants at buildings their family companies own. 

Published

on

Barbara Parker

Alameda County Superior Court issued its final Statement of Decision and Permanent Injunction After Trial in People of the State of California and the City of Oakland v. Dodg Corporation, et al., a major win for the city in a case against a local real estate empire for systemic tenants’ rights violations.

The September 1 decision represents a significant triumph for the city in a case brought several years ago against the owners of a prominent local real estate empire for systematically violating the rights of tenants at buildings their family companies own. 

Not only must the defendants now comply with tenant protection and health and safety laws at all of their properties, but they owe the city and their former tenants significant redress, including financial penalties to the city and compensation to tenants, for their years of unlawful activity.

Said City Attorney Barbara Parker, “Victory in this case means that tenants in Oakland do not have to choose between their fundamental rights and having a roof over their head at any cost. No longer will businesses like Dodg Corporation be able to run roughshod over the people relying on them for shelter, and no longer will landlords feel the same impunity to outright ignore their legal obligations under our local laws.”

When the City Attorney’s Office brought the Dodg Corp. case in 2019, Oakland had long been facing an unprecedented housing crisis. By 2019, the housing crisis was disproportionately impacting low-income households, with nearly half of rental households in Oakland being rent-burdened (i.e., the household spends over 30% of its gross monthly income on rent).

Because of the skyrocketing rents, many low- and middle-income Oakland residents lived and still live under threat of displacement.

Prior to filing the case, the City Attorney’s Office had already worked with members of the City Council and the Mayor’s Office to pass various important laws focusing on protecting Oakland residents, particularly low- and middle-income residents. 

The City Attorney’s Office worked closely with the Council to adopt the Tenant Protection Ordinance (TPO) in 2014, which was amended in 2020 to strengthen the TPO’s protections. But for some abusive landlords, neither the 2014 TPO nor its recent amendments were enough to stop their illegal activities.

For years, the defendants in the Dodg Corp. case owned and operated approximately 60 residential rental properties in the City of Oakland (and owned at least 70 more properties in the city). The lawsuit addressed their flagrant disregard for the letter and spirit of the law with respect to six specific rental properties, where the defendants subjected Oakland residents to grave health and safety risks. 

The owners’ activities included renting units in substandard conditions — including units never intended or approved for residential use — to tenants who were predominantly low-income immigrants, among them tenants whose primary language is not English. 

This predatory business model allowed the owners to profit from renting uninhabitable or dilapidated units, including units that posed severe and imminent fire risks, to tenants who were desperate to find affordable housing and who often lacked the resources to take legal action to defend their rights. 

When tenants were displaced from their homes because their units were so unsafe, the owners further violated the law by neglecting to make relocation payments required by local law, according to a media release from the City Attorney’s Office. 

The case went to trial in early April of this year. In its September 1 decision, the court held that the defendant corporate entities and individual defendants Baljit Singh Mann and Surinder K. Mann exhibited a pattern and practice of violating the Tenant Protection Ordinance, and did so in bad faith, and that they created a public nuisance.

The verdict requires that defendants pay the City over $3.9 million in civil penalties for their egregious violations of tenants’ rights. Defendants must also provide long-overdue relocation payments to the dozens of tenants unlawfully displaced from the six properties at issue in this case. 

Going forward, defendants also may not operate any of their Oakland-owned residential properties in violation of local or state laws. This means the owners must promptly and competently address existing and future violations that jeopardize the well-being of their tenants.

The Oakland Post’s coverage of local news in Alameda County is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support community newspapers across California.

Continue Reading

CHECK OUT THE LATEST ISSUE OF THE OAKLAND POST

ADVERTISEMENT

WORK FROM HOME

Home-based business with potential monthly income of $10K+ per month. A proven training system and website provided to maximize business effectiveness. Perfect job to earn side and primary income. Contact Lynne for more details: Lynne4npusa@gmail.com 800-334-0540

Facebook

Trending