Letter to the Editor: Six Percent Not Enough

Editor,

I was very saddened to read your August 18 story that “only six percent of new housing developments in Oakland are dedicated to low-income individuals.” Although I live in Oakland, I would like to see our East Bay cities engage in a massive, coordinated effort to identify affordable housing solutions. 

Having worked in the field of disabilities in the East Bay since 1987, I have witnessed the demise of available units for our most vulnerable residents, as well as for the underpaid staff who support them. People living with disabilities do not have the resources to pay market-rate rents and neither do the people who support them. Section 8 is a non-starter; it is completely useless except for those who received their vouchers years ago.

New property management companies have been coming in and buying properties that have Section 8 units. These new owners have been refusing to accept vouchers, and have left an untold number of individuals with no housing options. The workers who support disabled individuals have been moving to and commuting from areas such as Modesto, Stockton and the like to the East Bay in order to keep the jobs for meager pay. This exodus started many years ago and continues to this day. These people also work multiple jobs in order to survive. This is not "living a quality life" in an area that prides itself on being a great place to live and work. 

The insatiable greed of certain landlords and developers, as well as the ignorant NIMBYs, have held new affordable housing units to a bare minimum over an extended period of time. Oak Knoll is a glaring embarrassment for Oakland, as none of the units are set aside for low and very low-income individuals. Municipalities must think outside the box for answers.

We need a multi-city, state, federal level, multi-pronged approach to identify solutions and bring them to fruition. Will someone please step up to lead such an effort? 

Laurel Sillins 
Oakland resident