Tenant activists see more fights - April 28, 1990

Tenant activists see more fights
Couple wants others to take bigger role in addressing demands for affordable housing

By Karen Matthews (Alameda Times Star)
April 28, 1990

ALAMEDA – Tenant activists Clayton Guyton and Modessa Henderson, whose suit challenging the city’s housing policy was settled this week, said Friday that their fight is not over.

Rather than resting on their laurels after having reached a settlement with the city that will allow up to 325 low-cost apartments to be built, they want to make sure that when and if those units are built, they can be part of the process.

“Tenants should be in on every phase, when it comes to affordable housing,” said Guyton. “Cities don’t know how to approach tenants.”

Guyton and Henderson filed a suit in 1989 challenging Measure A, the city law that restricts new housing to duplexes and single-family houses.

The settlement allows a 325-unit window in Measure A for low-income apartments.
Guyton and Henderson sued after the Bridgeport Apartments, formerly the Buena Vista Park Apartments, were converted in 1987 from subsidized to market-rate rents – something that is happening all over the country as landlords pay off the mortgages on federally subsidized low-income apartment buildings.

The 325 potential units won through the settlement are supposed to replace the low-income units lost in the conversion.

Guyton said he would like tenants to be involved in the process of developing low-income housing, rather than non-profit corporations like the San Francisco-based Bridge Housing Corp., which is developing Alameda’s Independence Plaza senior housing complex along with the Housing Authority.

Two San Francisco tenant activists joined Guyton and Henderson for an informal news conference Friday at a Bridgeport Apartments playground.

They said Guyton and Henderson are role models to them.

“They’re like a big brother and a big sister,” said Raja El-Amin, who lives in the Ammel Park Housing Cooperative.

“Everyone has to start somewhere,” said El-Amin. “They’ve laid some groundwork for us and others.”

Source: Matthews, Karen, “Tenant activists see more fights.” Alameda Times-Star. 28 April, 1990:3.