Connect with us

Berkeley

New Affordable Housing Preferences Can Help You Return or Stay in Berkeley

Households who lost their homes in Berkeley through foreclosure since 2005 or by the construction of BART in the 1960s-70s can apply to be included among seven groups who will have higher priority in many affordable housing lotteries, which already filter households by income.

Published

on

New rules will help people who were forced from their homes because of BART construction or foreclosure since 2005. Photo courtesy City of Berkeley.
New rules will help people who were forced from their homes because of BART construction or foreclosure since 2005. Photo courtesy City of Berkeley.

By Matthai Chakko

Households who lost their homes in Berkeley through foreclosure since 2005 or by the construction of BART in the 1960s-70s can apply to be included among seven groups who will have higher priority in many affordable housing lotteries, which already filter households by income.
Under new rules now in effect in Berkeley, people in those two categories can apply for certification before applying for housing. They would join five other categories for which people would provide further information when applying for housing:

• Current or former residents of formerly redlined neighborhoods, areas devalued by the federal government through discriminatory practices
• Child or grandchild of those who’ve lived in formerly redlined neighborhoods
• People displaced due to a no-fault or non-payment eviction in Berkeley over the past seven years
• People in Berkeley who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, or those who are homeless with a previous address in Berkeley and are not already being prioritized for Permanent Supportive Housing
• Households with at least one child aged 17 or younger

These policies will apply to a portion of new affordable housing units created through the City’s Housing Trust Fund and Below Market Rate programs, which cover all new affordable multi-unit construction in Berkeley.
Affordable housing applications in Berkeley will ask questions about all seven criteria to see if you qualify for any of the preference categories. If selected for housing, you will need to provide additional information to verify your eligibility.

For the two preference categories that require a certificate — a BART Displacement Certificate or a Foreclosure Displacement Certificate — apply now to help speed a future application for affordable housing.
Anyone can also sign up to receive email alerts for affordable housing openings in Berkeley or Alameda County.

APPLY FOR BART CONSTRUCTION OR FORECLOSURE PREFERENCES
Households eligible for the BART construction or foreclosure preferences can apply for a certificate at any time for use in affordable housing applications. For all other preferences, households do not need certificates and will indicate their eligibility when applying for housing.
Please allow up to two weeks for your application for either certificate to be processed. The City may reach out to request more information. If approved, you will receive a certificate number by email to then use when applying to eligible affordable housing units.

Displaced due to BART construction
You are eligible for the BART Construction Certificate if you, your parent, grandparent, or great-grandparent lost their home in Berkeley due to the construction of BART in the 1960s and 1970s. If approved, you will get first preference over other categories in an affordable housing lottery.
To apply, submit the BART Construction Displacement Certificate Application.
The application will ask for:

• Address you or your family was displaced from
• Name and birthdate of the adult(s) who rented or owned the property
• Birth or adoption records linking you to the person who was displaced (if you need time to gather these records, you can still apply and send the records by email afterward)
Displaced due to foreclosure
You are eligible for the Foreclosure Certificate if you or a member of your household was displaced due to foreclosure since 2005 of a property in Berkeley.

To apply, submit the Foreclosure Displacement Certificate Application.
The application will ask for:

• Address of the foreclosed property and year of move-out
• Name of adult(s) who owned the property
• Notice of Trustee Sale (legal notice of foreclosure)
• If your name is not on the Notice of Trustee Sale, you will also need to submit proof that you lived at the property (if you need time to gather these records, you can still apply and send the records by email afterward)

ASSISTANCE FOR BART CONSTRUCTION OR FORECLOSURE DISPLACEMENT CERTIFICATES
Schedule a 30-minute in-person assistance appointment at 2180 Milvia St. to get support in applying for a Berkeley BART Construction Displacement Certificate or Foreclosure Displacement Certificate.

After scheduling, details will be provided in a follow-up email. Visit the affordable housing preferences and certificates page for more information, and email HousingPreferences@berkeleyca.gov with questions.
APPLY FOR AFFORDABLE HOUSING
Find affordable housing opportunities on the Alameda County Housing Portal. Sign up to receive email alerts when opportunities in Berkeley become available.

When applying for housing, check the appropriate boxes for any preferences for which you are eligible. If you are selected for a unit, the property manager will reach out to request more information and documentation to verify your eligibility.
Applicants with the BART Construction Displacement Certificate will receive first preference over other categories. Other applicants will be sorted by the total number of preference categories for which they are eligible.

HOUSING PREFERENCE SUPPORTS ANTI-DISPLACEMENT EFFORTS

The City of Berkeley’s Housing Preference Policy helps families stay in or return to Berkeley. The City partnered with two nonprofit organizations — Healthy Black Families and East Bay Community Law Center — to develop the policy through a collaborative, community-driven process.

The policy aims to reduce displacement and address historical injustices such as redlining. Under this practice, the federal government designated redlined neighborhoods as the riskiest places to issue loans during the 1930s-60s. Redlining devalued properties, undermining housing stability and enabling ongoing displacement.

The City of Berkeley is also making historic investments in affordable housing, including the $135 million Measure O bond dedicated to affordable housing, of which $53 million is dedicated to affordable housing at Ashby and North Berkeley BART stations. Measure O is increasing the pace of affordable housing development, with over 1,000 units in development.

If you or your family were displaced or are at risk of displacement from Berkeley, applying for affordable housing preferences offers a path to return to or remain in your community.

Everyone eligible should sign up for notifications and apply to affordable housing listings on the Housing Portal as they become available. Those who were displaced due to BART or foreclosure should apply for their preference certificate now.
Matthai Chakko is the communications director for the City of Berkeley.

Activism

Will New City Leaders End Oakland’s Long-Time Cozy Relationship with Corporate Developers?

Geoffrey Pete’s building at 410 14th St. is a Registered National Resource Building on the State of California Register as well as a contributing building to the Historic Downtown Oakland District on the State of California Register and the National Department of Interior historic registers.

Published

on

Rendering of Tidewater Capital’s 40-story residential tower at 1431 Franklin St., next to Geoffrey’s Inner Circle. Courtesy Tidewater Capital.
Rendering of Tidewater Capital’s 40-story residential tower at 1431 Franklin St., next to Geoffrey’s Inner Circle. Courtesy Tidewater Capital.

By Ken Epstein

New research, produced by supporters of Geoffrey’s Inner Circle and the Black Arts Movement and Business District, has provided powerful evidence against giving a greenlight to Tidewater Capital’s 40-story luxury apartment building at 1431 Franklin St., inches from owner Geoffrey Pete’s historic venue.

According to the research, which has been shared with Mayor Sheng Thao, arguments in favor of Tidewater Capital’s proposal seem to be based on inaccurate facts, which some believe have their origin among past mayoral administrations and city administrators, the planning commission and city staff who for years allowed corporate development to ravage Oakland’s diverse communities while trying to convince residents that there is no alternative to gentrification.

State does not require project’s approval

Some who support allowing Tidewater’s project to be built have maintained that the state would likely revoke Oakland’s affordable housing funds if the city does not approve this high-end real estate project.

However, this interpretation does not seem to be based on an accurate reading of the law. The state’s “Prohousing Designation Program is what is believed by city officials to prevent Oakland from denying new residential development at the risk of losing their designation” and related funding, according to the research document.

The new research has found instead that “Oakland’s housing element is considered to be in ‘full compliance’ with state law, (and) the city no longer has to worry about losing important revenue, such as the Prohousing Designation Program or triggering rules that could have limited its ability to regulate development.”

The mission statement of the state pro-housing program says it is not designed to force cities to build more high-end housing but is meant to pressure cities and counties that are not building sufficient housing for very low and extremely low-income families. The goal is “creating more affordable homes in places that historically or currently exclude households earning lower incomes and households of color,” the mission statement of the state’s program said.

“This (Tidewater) proposal isn’t remotely connected” to a low-income development and, therefore, would not be impacted by state regulations protecting low-income projects, says the new research.

City failed to seek historical preservation funds

The second major point is that Oakland, unlike neighboring cities, has failed to apply for funding that would have protected its national resource buildings and districts from luxury developers like Tidewater.

Geoffrey Pete’s building at 410 14th St. is a Registered National Resource Building on the State of California Register and a contributing building to the Historic Downtown Oakland District on the State of California Register and the National Department of Interior historic registers.

If Oakland had applied for available grants from the state’s Office of Historic Preservation, it could have received millions of dollars. For example, the city and county of San Francisco applied and received millions of dollars more than six times since 2012.

“The City of Oakland has never even applied for this grant once,” the research said. “Our neighboring and surrounding cities in San Francisco, Berkeley, and Richmond have all applied and been awarded. Just not Oakland.”

“If Oakland had applied and received these funds, then Geoffrey’s Inner Circle, a National Registered Resource Building, would have been protected. There would be zero conversation with Tidewater Capital. This situation would not exist.”

Because the Black Arts Movement & Business District is a registered cultural district, Tidewater Capital’s proposal is in a geographic area with cultural affiliations, and the proposed development will, in fact, cause harm to a cultural resource, Geoffrey’s Inner Circle.

Project designed for luxury housing

The third major point in the research holds that, while the project’s backers claim that many units would be reserved for very low-income residents, the city’s staff report says that only 38 units (10%) out of a total of 381 units would be reserved for low-income residents. Further, there is evidence that none of the units would be available to those whose incomes do not put them among the affluent.

The City of Oakland considers “low-income” to be $112,150 a year for a family of four. What this means is MOST Oakland families do not earn enough to live in the Tidewater Capital’s building. Current data shows that median income for a family of four in Oakland is $85,628, well below the $112,150 that is considered low-income by the city’s unusual standard.

The research shows that the planning commission and city staff’s systematic bias toward high end development has resulted in massive overbuilding of market rate housing, while the city is way behind its goals to build affordable housing.

City statistics show that between 2015 and 2022, the city pledged to build 14,765 units at various income levels. In fact, the city created many more — 18,880 units. Of these, they had pledged to build 4,134 units for residents at the lowest income levels but failed to reach their goal by 1,776 units.

Yet at the same, time, the city built 16,522 high end units, though officials had only pledged 10,631 units for affluent tenants.

“The Oakland Planning Commission catered to developers, such as Tidewater Capital, who solely created luxury housing, so aggressively that they overshot their obligation by 5,891 extra and unnecessary (luxury) units approved,” according to Geoffrey’s supporters’ research.

“Yet low-income housing goals are nearly two thousand units in arrears with no clear remedy or solution at hand,” the research said.

“For the eighth year in a row, Oakland’s Housing Element progress report shows that while the city has permitted an abundance of market rate housing, we are not building enough affordable homes,” said Jeff Levin of East Bay Housing Organizations (EBHO), quoted in Oaklandside.

“The trend in Oakland has been to build high-end units that attract new, higher-income residents,” doing little for low-income residents and Oakland natives, he said.

Project does not fit the landscape

Finally, the real facts show that Tidewater’s market-rate luxury skyscraper, doggedly supported by city staff, does not fit the landscape, dramatically overshadowing surrounding buildings in the downtown Black Arts Movement and Business District.

Tidewater’s design would become the tallest building in Oakland at 413 feet tall (40 stories), taller than the Atlas building at 400 feet, which was built several years ago directly across the street from Geoffrey’s.

The Post gave council members supporting the Tidewater project an opportunity to be interviewed for this article.

Continue Reading

Bay Area

Winter Commencement 2023 Lessons: Embrace UC Berkeley’s Values, Pursue Audacious Goals

Jade Amor-Shannan Johnson and Cerenity Bush stood under the bright winter sun on Dec. 16, 2023, proudly waiting to process into UC Berkeley’s Haas Pavilion and wearing personalized caps bedecked in glitter, illustrations and motivating phrases. Johnson’s cap said, “The marathon continues,” and Bush’s quoted Maya Angelou: “Success is loving life and daring to live it.”

Published

on

An additional 6,000 friends and family members gathered Saturday, Dec. 16 to cheer on graduates at UC Berkeley's Winter Commencement 2023 at Haas Pavilion. Photo by Keegan Houser/UC Berkeley
An additional 6,000 friends and family members gathered Saturday, Dec. 16 to cheer on graduates at UC Berkeley's Winter Commencement 2023 at Haas Pavilion. Photo by Keegan Houser/UC Berkeley

By Amy Cranch
UC Berkeley News

Jade Amor-Shannan Johnson and Cerenity Bush stood under the bright winter sun on Dec. 16, 2023, proudly waiting to process into UC Berkeley’s Haas Pavilion and wearing personalized caps bedecked in glitter, illustrations and motivating phrases.

Johnson’s cap said, “The marathon continues,” and Bush’s quoted Maya Angelou: “Success is loving life and daring to live it.”

The wording suited the two friends, who were among some 1,000 undergraduate and graduate students participating in Winter Commencement 2023. Approximately 6,000 guests cheered as graduates’ names were called.

Johnson had majored in legal studies, with a minor in African American studies. She graduated in three years. Her secret? “I know how to have fun and show up for my studies. I’m happy I worked hard,” she said.

Bush’s major was psychology. As a transfer student from Georgia, she said she’d initially had a hard time finding her place at Berkeley and “felt a heavier weight in getting used to the university, with much less time.” But she prevailed.

Another graduating transfer student, Vanessa Reyes, credited Berkeley for having “broadened my horizons.” As a Mexican American, she grew up in a small town and said she had felt “culture shock coming here.”

Reyes was selected to sing the national anthem at commencement but decided to keep it a surprise for the nearly 30 family members there to honor her. “Graduating from college is a big deal to my family,” she said. “I was taught to be proud of who I am and where I grew up. It’s an honor to sing this song.”

Professor Jennifer Doudna, 2020 winner of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for her development of CRISPR-Cas9, a genome-engineering technology, gave the keynote address to several rounds of applause. The week before commencement, the federal Food and Drug Administration approved the first-ever therapy using this technology for sickle cell disease, a painful, debilitating blood disorder.

“I’m particularly proud that this therapeutic came from fundamental research here at UC Berkeley,” Doudna said. But, she said, much work remains to make the treatment more widely and globally available. “We can do this by forging the right partnerships,” she said. “And we need to explain our work and invite discussion and debate.”

Comparing the winter graduates’ journey to Homer’s “The Odyssey,” Doudna said, “Like the world of ancient Greece, the world you are entering is dynamic. Embrace it with open arms and a resolute spirit.”

She encouraged students to pursue audacious goals with passion and determination. “But never lose sight of your values, integrity and empathy,” she said. “Success is measured, in large part, by the positive impact you have on others.”

Yael Hacohen held the hands of her 7- and 3-year-old daughters, both wearing tiny graduation robes, when she approached the stage to be hooded for a Ph.D. in rhetoric. A fourth-generation Berkeley graduate and a published poet from Israel, Hacohen said it took a village to get to this day. “I had the best faculty members, who supported every aspect of my writing, every question,” she said.

When asked about juggling her studies and parenthood, Hacohen said, “It matters to be a woman, a mother, and to know that it is possible to achieve anything.”

In her remarks, Chancellor Carol T. Christ acknowledged that political and ideological divides — and, most recently, opposing perspectives about the conflict in the Middle East — are straining the ties that bind the campus community. She encouraged graduates to carry with them Berkeley’s values, including freedom of expression and respectful dialogue.

“I urge you to try to understand views different from your own,” Christ said. “Be skeptical of those who would divide the world into simplistic categories of good and evil, black and white — if only because the reality of our world is often far more complex in its shades of gray.”

Following her address, Christ presented the Elise and Walter A. Haas International Award to Damir Arnaut, who received his undergraduate degree from Berkeley in 1997, his master’s in 1998 and his J.D. in 2002. The award annually honors one of Berkeley’s alumni with a distinguished record of service to another country.

Elected to three terms as a member of Parliament in Bosnia and Herzegovina and recently appointed ambassador to Germany, Arnaut has dedicated his life to strengthening democracy and human rights. He was the first public official to support Bosnia and Herzegovina’s first LGBTQ pride march.

In his remarks, Arnaut said a Berkeley degree gives graduates both humility and audacity. “Berkeley teaches you what is right, provides you the skills to bring it about,” he said, “but also gives you that healthy dose of arrogance that makes you unwavering in your quest.”

Arnaut is currently working to dismantle ethnic divisions that keep individuals like his son — who Arnaut said was born into a “mixed marriage” (Arnaut is Bosnian, and his wife is Croatian) — from holding public office. “I won’t quit in this endeavor. I wouldn’t be worthy of this school, or this award, if I did,” he said.

Graduate Pearleen Wang, who double-majored in data science and music, was chosen to speak as the student representative. She told a story about her mother, who grew up in rural southern Taiwan and poured everything she had into providing a better life for her daughters, including nurturing artistic activities she had not experienced herself. One day, however, she decided to learn the art of cake decorating.

“The more she studied and practiced, the more fantastic her creations became,” said Wang, describing dreamy flower gardens and scenes painted with edible watercolors. “She unlocked an incredible artistic side that had lain dormant since childhood. My family showed me that learning is a lifelong journey, and it’s never too late to discover something new about yourself.”

Continue Reading

Bay Area

Arrests Made at People’s Park as Preparations For Construction on Site Begin Again

Seven people were arrested early Thursday morning at Berkeley’s People’s Park as fencing was put up in preparation for a controversial construction project to build housing for students and formerly unhoused people on the public park.

Published

on

Opponents fought the University of California, Berkeley's plan to build on the site when construction began in August 2022, but they were dealt a setback when Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill last year that was unanimously backed by the state Legislature to exempt the university from a requirement to consider alternative sites for the project.
Opponents fought the University of California, Berkeley's plan to build on the site when construction began in August 2022, but they were dealt a setback when Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill last year that was unanimously backed by the state Legislature to exempt the university from a requirement to consider alternative sites for the project.

By Bay City News

Seven people were arrested early Thursday morning at Berkeley’s People’s Park as fencing was put up in preparation for a controversial construction project to build housing for students and formerly unhoused people on the public park.

Fencing and double-stacked shipping containers will continue to be installed over the next three to four days and surrounding streets will be closed off for about six days, according to a university spokesperson.

Opponents fought the University of California, Berkeley’s plan to build on the site when construction began in August 2022, but they were dealt a setback when Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill last year that was unanimously backed by the state Legislature to exempt the university from a requirement to consider alternative sites for the project.

The arrests Thursday morning were for trespassing, with two also arrested for failure to disperse, according to the university. They were cited and released after being booked into jail.

An appeal on the university’s construction project is still being heard by the state Supreme Court, but the university said it has the legal right to close off the construction zone while the case is litigated.

“Given that the existing legal issues will inevitably be resolved, we decided to take this necessary step now in order to minimize disruption for the public and our students when we are eventually cleared to resume construction,” UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ said in a statement.

“Unfortunately, our planning and actions must take into account that some of the project’s opponents have previously resorted to violence and vandalism, despite strong support for the project on the part of students, community members, advocates for unhoused people, the elected leadership of the City of Berkeley, as well as the Legislature and governor of the state of California,” Christ said.

The plan calls for building housing for 1,100 students and a separate building with 100 apartments for low-income, formerly unhoused people, but activists have fought against the displacement of unhoused people currently living in the park and development on a green space.

The plan would preserve 60% of the 2.8-acre park’s green space and the park would remain open to the public. People living in the park have been offered transitional housing.

Video posted to social media showed trees being cut down and carried by heavy machinery overnight Wednesday into Thursday morning.

Copyright © 2024 Bay City News, Inc.  All rights reserved.  Republication, rebroadcast or redistribution without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited. Bay City News is a 24/7 news service covering the greater Bay Area.

Continue Reading

Subscribe to receive news and updates from the Oakland Post

* indicates required

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

Copyright ©2021 Post News Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.