TechEquity’s Statement on Anti-Displacement Funding: Oakland City Council meeting, 6/19

Last night the Oakland City Council met to discuss the Oakland budget, including whether to use funds from the Affordable Housing Trust Fund to fund anti-displacement services. We’ve expressed our support for this funding allocation and while we weren’t able to speak at last night’s meeting due to scheduling conflicts, we prepared the following remarks and have shared them with Oakland’s council members.

My name is Catherine Bracy and I’m the Executive Director of the TechEquity Collaborative. We are a membership organization representing hundreds of tech workers in the Bay Area who think the tech-driven economy can and should work for everyone.

While tech didn’t create the underlying issues that are causing the housing crisis, we recognize that the fast growth of our industry has contributed to conditions that are pushing out longtime and vulnerable communities and we feel we have a responsibility to use our voice to advocate for policy that will make it possible for everyone who wants to live here to access affordable housing.

That means we absolutely must build new units of affordable housing. But it also means we need to provide services for those who are under threat of being kicked out of the homes they’re already in.

That’s why we support Councilmember Kalb’s proposal to use the majority of housing boomerang funds in the Affordable Housing Trust Fund for anti-displacement services. We’re taking this position for a few reasons:

  1. There is no other allocation for anti-displacement services. While recently-passed ballot measures created hundreds of millions of dollars for much-needed affordable housing projects, none of those funds can be used for anti-displacement services, to help people stay in their homes now. The only other funds available would have to come from general funds, which the city has made clear do not exist for new priorities.
  2. When it comes to anti-displacement services, a little money goes a long way. $5m, or what it would cost to build about ten units of affordable housing, doesn’t sound like much. But it is enough to provide legal assistance and housing counseling to 3,000 Oakland tenants who are currently at risk of being displaced and can’t access services or representation that could keep them in their home. In a time when the City needs to stretch dollars, that seems like a worthy investment.
  3. Anti-displacement services prevent homelessness. The increasing urgency of the homelessness crisis is apparent to anyone who lives in Oakland. Many of the new homeless are people who have been displaced from their residences here and don’t have anywhere else to go. Providing services that allow some of those people to stay in their homes not only prevents the human trauma of homelessness — which leads to other social and emotional costs — but costs far less than what it costs to provide services to someone once they’re on the streets. Funding anti-displacement is also funding homelessness prevention.
  4. Anti-displacement services are the only housing solution that can help families *now.* We all agree we urgently need new affordable housing. But any new units we can fund will take several years to become available. In the meantime, Oakland will continue to lose the communities that make this city the rich, vibrant, diverse place that has made it so attractive to many members of the tech community in the first place.

We hope you’ll allocate these funds for anti-displacement services, because we know very well what has happened across the Bay without adequate attention being paid to anti-displacement. The wave is coming ashore on the East Bay and as members of the tech community we want to be sure that all Oaklanders have the resiliency to ride that wave and not be washed out by it.

Thank you for your consideration.