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Registration Opens for Landlord Registry

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Just cause for eviction ordinance sets new requirement, helps data collection

In a quest for more data about the Marin County housing market, the County of Marin has created an online registry for landlords to share rental data. Affected landlords are required to register their rental units by June 1, 2019, and County staff is hosting three events in late May to help with registration.

In December 2018, the Marin County Board of Supervisors approved a pilot ordinance requiring landlords to provide legal reason – a just cause – before evicting a renter within the unincorporated areas of Marin. The ordinance, which went into effect January 2019, applies to properties with three or more rental units and does not limit allowable rent increases.

“In response to calls from the public and the Board for more accurate and timelier data on the local housing market, a data collection provision was part of the ordinance,” said Leelee Thomas, Planning Manager for the Marin County Community Development Agency. “We rely on private property owners for rental housing stock, but there’s been no mechanism for them to share rental data with us. We have a strong need for more trusted statistics in order to recognize trends.”

When a landlord registers, the County will be able to track the costs of rent, changes in occupancy, and evictions, among other categories.  Previously the only data available to the County was year-old statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau or numbers from for-profit real estate data analytics companies that typically only survey properties with more than 50 units. Those properties account for less than seven percent of housing units in the unincorporated county, and landlord representatives regularly assert that larger “corporate” landlords behave differently than housing providers with fewer units.

Over the past several years, the Board of Supervisors has taken actions to alleviate pressure in the county’s housing market, beset by high rents and marked by displacement and low vacancy rates.

“All of us agree we need a lot more housing in this county, but we are taking small steps forward,” said Board President Kate Sears during the December 2018 session in which the just cause ordinance was unanimously approved. “Everything matters. I think this is a good step, and hopefully it will make a difference and we will get good data, and there will be a greater feeling of dignity for our renters.”

The just cause ordinance was recommended by two independent groups that studied fair housing practices and existing barriers to fair housing choice for more than a year in the local market. Just cause joins a larger series of affordable housing and tenant protection measures the Board has supported since 2015 as it has made equity one of its top priorities. County housing measures already approved and in place include source of income protection for tenants with housing vouchers, mandatory mediation for rent increases above 5 percent, financial incentives to encourage landlords to rent to those who need shelter the most, and expanded a fee waiver program to encourage the creation of both accessory dwelling units (ADUs) and junior accessory dwelling units (JADUs).

Thomas said the intent of the just cause ordinance is to relieve displacement pressures and support stability for renter households while retaining the rights of landlords to terminate rental agreements for legitimate reasons. The justifiable causes for eviction described in the ordinance include:

failure to pay rent;

a breach of the rental contract;

the tenant using the unit for illegal activities;

the landlord permanently removing the unit from the rental market; and

the landlord moving into the unit.

Later in May, CDA is teaming with the Marin County Free Library to host a registration drive for landlords. Staff from the CDA Housing and Federal Grants Division, CDA Environmental Health Division, and the Department of Finance will be on hand to assist landlords with the registration process. Landlords must have a business license and be registered for environmental health checks.

The events are:

Tuesday, May 21, Fairfax Library, 2097 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., 5-8 p.m.;

Wednesday, May 29, Novato Library, 1720 Novato Blvd., 5-8 p.m.;

Thursday, May 30, Corte Madera Library, 707 Meadowsweet Dr. 5-8 p.m.;

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Advice

Buying a Home May Not Be as Out of Reach as You Think, Even in This Market

While existing home sales have fallen month-over-month since the beginning of the year, prices hit a record high above $400,000 in May, according to the National Association of Realtors, as low levels of housing inventory and supply chain constraints have created an affordability squeeze for homebuyers. Mortgage rates have nearly doubled in the last six months — from 3% in 2021 to close to 6% in 2022 — making it increasingly challenging for many Americans to purchase a home, especially for those with limited income.

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While existing home sales have fallen month-over-month since the beginning of the year, prices hit a record high above $400,000 in May, according to the National Association of Realtors
While existing home sales have fallen month-over-month since the beginning of the year, prices hit a record high above $400,000 in May, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Here’s How You Can Achieve Homeownership

Buying a home is one of the most important purchases you will make in your lifetime. Pressure is mounting for those looking to buy right now, with home prices fluctuating and mortgage rates at their highest levels in over a decade.

While existing home sales have fallen month-over-month since the beginning of the year, prices hit a record high above $400,000 in May, according to the National Association of Realtors, as low levels of housing inventory and supply chain constraints have created an affordability squeeze for homebuyers. Mortgage rates have nearly doubled in the last six months — from 3% in 2021 to close to 6% in 2022 — making it increasingly challenging for many Americans to purchase a home, especially for those with limited income.

So, how do you know when you’re ready to buy a home? More importantly, how much home can you afford? We sat down with Denise Richardson, community home lending advisor at Chase, to answer those questions and discuss what the current state of the market means for you and your family’s home buying dreams.

Q: What are the main factors mortgage lenders look at when evaluating an application?

Richardson:

When it comes to homeownership, your credit score and debt-to-income ratio are major factors in the application process.

Your credit score is set based upon how you’ve used — or not used — credit in the past. Using credit responsibly, such as paying bills on time and having a low utilization rate will result in a higher score. Higher credit scores can help you qualify for the lowest interest rates. A score at 700 or above is generally considered good.

Additionally, lenders look at your debt-to-income ratio. This is a simple equation of how much debt you have relative to how much money you make. Borrowers with a higher debt-to-income ratio are considered more risky while a lower debt-to-income ratio may allow you to qualify for the best rates on your home loan.

Q: What are some tips for improving your credit score?

Richardson: There are a number of things you can do to improve your credit score, starting with reviewing your credit reports to understand what might be working against you. You can also pay down your revolving credit and dispute any inaccuracies.

Additionally, there are services like Chase Credit Journey to help monitor and improve your credit score. Credit Journey monitors all your accounts and alerts you to changes in your credit report that may impact your score. You’ll get an alert any time Chase sees new activity, including charges, account openings and credit inquiries. Chase will also notify you if there are changes in your credit usage, credit limits or balances. You don’t have to be a Chase customer to take advantage of Credit Journey.

Q: What are some factors that can affect the cost of a mortgage?

Richardson: There are several factors to consider when reviewing mortgage options including loan term, interest rate and loan type. Potential homebuyers should contact a home lending professional to understand and review the options available to them.

For example, there are two basic types of mortgage interest rates: fixed and adjustable. While adjustable rates are initially low, they can change over the course of a loan, so your mortgage payments may fluctuate. Loan term indicates how long you have to pay off the loan. Many homebuyers tend to opt for a 15-year or 30-year mortgage, though other terms are available. A longer loan term generally means you’ll have lower monthly payments, but you’ll pay more in interest over the life of the loan. A shorter loan term may come with higher monthly payments, but you’ll likely pay much less in interest over time.

Q: What are the costs of homeownership beyond the monthly mortgage payment?

Richardson: People often think of the down payment and monthly mortgage — but buying and owning a home carries additional costs. Closing costs, for example, can amount to up to 3% or more of the final purchase price. Other factors that could add on to your monthly payments are property taxes, homeowner’s insurance and homeowner’s association (HOA) fees. To get an idea of what this may look like for you, use an affordability calculator.

While there is no way for a buyer to completely avoid paying these fees, there are ways to save on them. Some banks offer financial assistance for homebuyers. As an example, Chase’s Homebuyer Grant offers up to $5,000 that can be used toward a down payment or closing costs in eligible neighborhoods across the country. There may also be homeowners’ or down payment assistance offered in your city or state. Contact a home lending advisor to learn about resources you may be eligible for.

For a deeper dive into this topic, our Beginner to Buyer podcast — episode three, “How Much Can I Afford?” is a great resource for prospective homebuyers to get answers to all their homebuying questions.

Learn more about the homebuying process, here.

Sponsored content from JPMorgan Chase & Co.

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Activism

Tiny Homes Offer Hope for Holidays and Beyond

We are accepting applications for volunteers and accepting donations that we can use to build Tiny Homes. You might have things in your house or garage you haven’t used or extra construction tools, a bag of stud nails, used doors, windows, roofing materials, lumber, metal, hardwood flooring, sheetrock tape, paints, and anything that we can recycle to build and add to our Tiny Homes. 

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As chief operations officer for The Tiny Homes Project, I join Lackey in expressing gratitude for the support that the Oakland Post, as our media partner, has helped us with in gathering community and faith-based leaders to help solve our increasing homeless problem in the Bay Area. We can no longer ignore homelessness in Oakland, which has now reached a humanitarian crisis.
As chief operations officer for The Tiny Homes Project, I join Lackey in expressing gratitude for the support that the Oakland Post, as our media partner, has helped us with in gathering community and faith-based leaders to help solve our increasing homeless problem in the Bay Area. We can no longer ignore homelessness in Oakland, which has now reached a humanitarian crisis.

By Dr. Maritony A. Yamot and Rev. Ken Lackey

The holidays are the season when we stop and begin to think, “How can I give back this year and what are some different ways to help out?”

Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to help out during the holidays that don’t cost a thing. The Tiny Homes Project — with Rev. Ken Lackey of the Center for the Perfect Marriage Church at 6101 International Blvd. — needs to increase its capacity and we wanted to remind our community that everybody matters to God.

As chief operations officer for The Tiny Homes Project, I join Lackey in expressing gratitude for the support that the Oakland Post, as our media partner, has helped us with in gathering community and faith-based leaders to help solve our increasing homeless problem in the Bay Area. We can no longer ignore homelessness in Oakland, which has now reached a humanitarian crisis.

We want to launch an intensive month-long generosity campaign to help the increasing homeless issues in our neighborhoods by adding to the number of tiny homes that we have already built at various private locations in Oakland.

We invite you to join us as we partner with some of Oakland’s fabulous nonprofit organizations to meet critical needs in our communities.

Whether through donation or action, there are plenty of opportunities to give.

We are accepting applications for volunteers and accepting donations that we can use to build Tiny Homes. You might have things in your house or garage you haven’t used or extra construction tools, a bag of stud nails, used doors, windows, roofing materials, lumber, metal, hardwood flooring, sheetrock tape, paints, and anything that we can recycle to build and add to our Tiny Homes.

We are also looking for vehicle donations of trailers or any truck for hauling material and picking up volunteers and homeless people that are helping to build Tiny Homes. We build our homes with primarily donated and surplus materials, allowing us to cut costs and provide a pleasant home for under $40,000.

Each and every person who wants to help out and eradicate the homeless problem in the City of Oakland can donate funds for us to build a Tiny Home. If donors want to give money to the ministry, we will build a tiny home and name it after them. Know that your donations will be able to take a whole family off the street during this cold season.

In addition, we are open to getting a sponsor or sponsors for an entire Tiny Homes Community Park and we have a separate location that will be designated for homeless veterans, the elderly, single mothers or single fathers, and any individual or family who lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence, such as those living in emergency shelters, transitional housing, places not meant for habitation, or sleeping on our streets.

Please spread the word and contact us about any way you can help our Tiny Homes Community Project with Rev. Ken Lackey.

There are three ways to contact us

  1. By Phone/toll-free number: 1-833-233-8900 ext. 1
  2. By Email: TinyHomesC@gmail.com
  3. By Appointment/Donation Drop off location at the All About Grits Restaurant at 6101 International Blvd., Oakland, CA

Or you can attend our next two major events:

  1. Tiny Homes Fundraising Event on Saturday, Dec. 10, 2022. Place to be announced.
  2. Tiny Homes Community Building Workshop with the help of our community and local partners in the Bay Area. Date and place to be announced.

Contact us for more details of these two events or any ways you can help in this season.

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Activism

COMMENTARY: Will Progressive Victories Mean a More Democratic, Inclusive Oakland?

The results were a significant defeat for the moderate, pro-big-business regime of outgoing Mayor Libby Schaaf, her corporate backers and the candidates she groomed and promoted as her legacy. The failure of Schaaf-backed candidates may have had a lot to do with the starkness of that legacy.

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Newly elected local leaders, pictured from left: Sheng Thao, Mayor of Oakland; Nikki Fortunato Bas, District 2 Oakland City Councilmember; Janani Ramachandran, District 4, Oakland City Councilmember; Kevin Jenkins, District 6, Oakland City Councilmember; Valarie Bachelor, District 6 Oakland Board of Education; Pamela Price, Alameda County District Attorney.
Newly elected local leaders, pictured from left: Sheng Thao, Mayor of Oakland; Nikki Fortunato Bas, District 2 Oakland City Councilmember; Janani Ramachandran, District 4, Oakland City Councilmember; Kevin Jenkins, District 6, Oakland City Councilmember; Valarie Bachelor, District 6 Oakland Board of Education; Pamela Price, Alameda County District Attorney.

By Ken Epstein

The sweep of progressive-leaning local candidates in November’s elections potentially means a seismic shift toward democratic and egalitarian policies in Oakland as the city seeks to grapple with ballooning homelessness, garbage-filled streets, violent crime, a police department still unable to emerge from federal court oversight, and lack of commitment to building housing that most Oaklanders can afford.

At the same time, the results were a significant defeat for the moderate, pro-big-business regime of outgoing Mayor Libby Schaaf, her corporate backers and the candidates she groomed and promoted as her legacy.

In part, the failure of Schaaf-backed candidates may have had a lot to do with the starkness of that legacy.

While failing to address city needs, Schaaf served as a prominent cheerleader for Oakland A’s owner John Fisher’s exclusive residential development at Howard Terminal alongside a new baseball stadium.

In opposition to many residents, she also backed the closing of many more neighborhood schools, the growth of charter schools, and blocked efforts for greater racial equity in construction in the awarding of city contracts.

Schaaf did not intervene to help stop the closure of Mills College, the historic Oakland-based women’s institution, which would have benefitted from some of the energy she spent leading the charge for the A’s real estate project.

The national political showdown between Republicans and Democrats may also have impacted the results, as progressives and mainstream Democrats across the country joined forces to slow down the so-called Red Wave to a trickle.

While this national energy likely helped fuel Oakland’s progressive tide, the results for city races and the closely watched Alameda County District Attorney’s race may count as among the most important local progressive victories in the country.

According to civil rights attorney Walter Riley, who worked with other local leaders and activists during the election to mobilize progressive voters, that work of mobilizing the community will continue.

“This election was about a vision for Oakland, affordable housing, housing the unhoused, stopping closure of predominately Black and Brown schools, cleaning up the city, crime, and criminal justice,” he said. “The entrenched opposition will be divisive, (and) we will build unity.”

The final results of the election were apparently posted on Monday by the Alameda County Registrar of Voters. However, before the election is official, the results must still be audited by the registrar and certified by the Oakland City Council.

Election results:

Sheng Thao, Mayor of Oakland

Sheng Thao, Mayor of Oakland

Sheng Thao Is Oakland’s Next Mayor

City Councilmember Sheng Thao on Nov. 8 squeaked out a victory in her race with Councilmember Loren Taylor, who was backed by Mayor Schaaf. The race was widely seen as a referendum on Schaaf’s eight years as mayor.

Thao won 50.30% of the final vote, compared with Taylor’s 49.70%, beating him by 682 votes out of a total of 113,636 ballots cast.

In a statement released Monday, Mayor-elect Thao said, “I’m also very humbled to be here. Fifteen years ago, I was living in my car with my baby. I’ve been through a lot to get to this moment.”

One of her top priorities is public safety. “That involves doubling down on the violence prevention programs that we know reduce violent crime, addressing root causes of crime by working to create more jobs and educational opportunities, filling vacancies in our police department with experienced and diverse officers, providing real support for victims, and redoubling our efforts to get guns off our streets,” she said.

Thao also pledged to “make Oakland the most proactive city in California on housing and homelessness. We’re going to have an aggressive housing policy that protects renters, fights displacement, and treats our unhoused with the dignity they deserve.”

Pamela Price, Alameda County District Attorney

Pamela Price, Alameda County District Attorney

Pamela Price Will Be Alameda County District Attorney

The election of civil rights attorney Pamela Price as the first Black District Attorney broke the chain of succession of hand-picked white district attorneys who maintained the inequitable criminal justice system that has become increasingly out of touch with county residents in the last decade.

Price’s victory, which will have an impact on the push for criminal justice reform nationwide, will be closely watched by both reform advocates and well-funded supporters of the status quo.

In an email to supporters after the election, Price wrote, “We knew this election was going to be an exclamation point in history for Alameda County. The DA’s office has been an untouched tower of legacy appointed and unchallenged District Attorneys.”

“For the last 10 years, the DA’s office has stood in the way of the progressive reforms ushered in by our California Legislature and endorsed by Alameda County voters,” wrote Price, who was described by the S.F. Chronicle as a “staunch reform advocate.”

Price was behind early in the race but ultimately won 53.14% of the vote, to Chief Assistant District Attorney Terry Wiley’s 46.86%.

Valarie Bachelor, District 6 Oakland Board of Education

Valarie Bachelor, District 6 Oakland Board of Education

Progressive Majority Flips School Board

For the first time in almost two decades Oakland will have a school board that is opposed to charter school expansion and willing to stand up to state pressure to close neighborhood schools.

The two progressive winners of the Oakland Board of Education elections, educator Jennifer Brouhard and union organizer Valarie Bachelor, will join Boardmembers Mike Hutchinson and VanCedric Williams to form a majority on the seven-member board against closings schools.

Brouhard, District 2 board member, won 63.89% of the vote. She is joined by Bachelor, District 6 board member, who received 54.23% of the vote.

In the District 4 school board, two progressive candidates split the vote, losing to Nick Resnick, who received 51.25% of the vote.

Progressive-Leaning Candidates Win City Council Races

With victories in three races, the City Council’s progressive alliance is likely to absorb fresh energy and new ideas and may be even stronger than it was in the past four years, according to several observers.

Nikki Fortunato Bas, Oakland City Councilmember for District 2, won reelection with 67.79% of the vote. Attorney Janani Ramachandran won in District 4 with 68.47% of the vote, and Kevin Jenkins won in District 6 with 84.22% of the vote.

Lena Tam, Elected New Supervisor of District 3

Lena Tam, Elected New Supervisor of District 3

Lena Tam Elected New Supervisor of District 3

Lena Tam, former vice mayor for the City of Alameda, was elected to the Alameda County Board of Supervisors to serve District 3. She garnered 52.10% of the vote to Kaplan’s 47.90%. Tam had the backing of all three mayors of the cities in the district — San Leandro’s Pauline Cutter, City of Alameda’s Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf — as well as the sitting members of the board.

She is replacing Wilma Chan who died last year after she was hit by a car while walking her dog in Alameda.

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