Low-income tenants plead for help from Alameda council - September 5, 1987

Low-income tenants plead for help from Alameda council

By Carolyn Newbergh (Oakland Tribune)
September 5, 1987

ALAMEDA – Low-income residents of one of the largest apartment complexes in the Eastbay begged the City Council last night to commit itself to keeping rents from being doubled.

“Women will have to put their children in foster homes, and they will have to live in cheap hotels,” Clayton Guyton, leader off the tenants at the 615-unit Buena Vista Park apartments, told an often explosive special meeting of the council.

“You go to the polls and ask for our help,” said Jean Jacobs, a single parent. “We’re asking for yours.”

The Buena Vista is the largest for-profit private apartment complex for low-income people in the Eastbay according to U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development spokesman Dirk Murphy.

It is also the second complex in HUD’s Northern California region to take advantage of the opportunity to pay off a low-interest, 40-year federal mortgage after 20 years and remove itself from the HUD program regulating rental rates.

Mayor Chuck Corica has set up a meeting Tuesday with the Beverly Hills owner of the Buena Vista, the Gersten Co. He said he would ask that it hold off on converting the market rents until some means for assisting the tenants, such as federal rent subsidies, can be worked out.

Although Corica and other council members often shouted angrily at each other, pointing fingers at who was most responsible for letting the Buena Vista problem get so far, they agreed they want to help.

“I give a darn for you and I’m not going to let somebody roll over you,” said Council member Joe Camicia.

The Gersten Co. owns both Buena Vista and the Vallejo Palisades apartments in Vallejo, which was the first privately owned, low-income rental complex to convert early, according to HUD spokesman Dirk Murphy.

Gersten spokeswoman Linda Sheppard said in a telephone interview yesterday the company hopes to work out with Corica a shceudle of increasing rents over time to market rates. The company is also seeking rental subsidies, she said.

“Our intent is not to evict or run anybody out,” Shepard said. “Our intent is to convert the apartments to market rate. Some tenants will be more hard hit than others. We understand we have a moral obligation to those people.”

The Buena Vista tenants and others nationwide in the same boat face an affordable housing crisis made worse by the almost complete elimination of federal housing construction programs for low-income people under the Reagan administration.

Source: Newbergh, Carolyn, “Low-income tenants plead for help from Alameda council.” Oakland Tribune, 05 September, 1987: A11.