“I know of no authority that gives the U.S. government the ability to circumvent and ignore the application of Oakland’s Just Cause for Eviction ordinance as it attempts to remove these lawful occupants,” said Meghan Gordon, an attorney who is the director of the East Bay Community Law Center’s housing practice.
OAKLAND — The $9 million homelessness prevention program Oakland launched last year has succeeded in keeping nearly 500 families off the streets so far, a city spokeswoman said Tuesday.
In introducing the bill, Skinner said she wanted to replicate the success of Keeping Oakland Housed, according to the press release. Founded Oct. 15, Keeping Oakland Housed partners with Bay Area Community Services, Catholic Charities of the East Bay, and the East Bay Community Law Center to provide legal representation and financial assistance to Oakland residents.
In the view of Frank Martin, deputy director of the East Bay Community Law Center, the legal services offered by Keep Oakland Housed will give pause to property managers looking to evict tenants as a ploy to boost rent.“Generally speaking, 90 percent of landlords have lawyers and 90 percent of tenants do not,” he says. “That makes for an imbalance and leads to people losing their cases even when they have legitimate reasons for why they couldn’t pay their rent. Having lawyers who will negotiate settlements with landlords or who show up in court with tenants levels the playing field.”
Berkeley Law’s East Bay Community Law Center, working with four other organizations, brought the litigation on behalf of plaintiffs Darren Mathieu and Edward Jackson. It asserts that the Oakland Housing Authority ordinance is unconstitutional, and that the OHA Police Department has used it to hassle and intimidate public housing residents through racially discriminatory enforcement practices.
The 61 year old Ross represents just one of 60 households that have been helped so far by a program launched just ten days ago, a partnership that includes Catholic Charities, the East Bay Community Law Center, the San Francisco Foundation, Bay Area Community Services, and the City of Oakland.
At a City Hall news conference, Schaaf and executives from the East Bay Community Law Center, Catholic Charities of the East Bay and Bay Area Community Services presented a $9 million pilot plan called Keep Oakland Housed, which is designed to provide support services for low-income city residents.
Tirien Steinbach, executive director of the East Bay Community Law Center, said pressures of the region’s tightening rental market provide incentives to landlords to raise rents. Tenants are feeling the squeeze, and need help fighting evictions.
“We believe that it will help staunch the bleeding of Oakland tenants,” said Tirien Steinbach, executive director of the East Bay Community Law Center.
The suit, filed this week in federal court, says the city ordinance is applied excessively to young black men and should be deemed unconstitutional. Named as defendants are the city of Oakland and the Oakland Housing Authority Police Department. The entities that filed the lawsuit — including the East Bay Community Law Center and local ACLU division — submitted a stack of police reports as part of the complaint.