Low-income housing units lost in Oakland, study shows

Anti-eviction Mapping Project shows how housing for poor people is being replaced with housing for tech workers

Hundreds of low-cost residential hotel rooms have been lost in Oakland in just the past year, likely driving many people into homelessness, a new report by the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project shows.

This is an ad for what was once an SRO for low-icnome people

The report, based on public records, demonstrates the impact that the tech boom, based in San Francisco and the Peninsula, has had on the city across the Bay, which has historically been home to working-class people of color:

Single Room Occupancy hotels, traditionally available to those on fixed or very low incomes are being marketed to new arrivals and tech industry workers, exacerbating the housing crisis and exploding homeless population in Oakland.  

Hundreds of rooms have been lost in the last year at the Sutter, Travelers, and other single room occupancy (SRO) hotels.  The extractive model of financial speculation has reached into every form of housing in the San Francisco Bay Area, and homelessness has risen exponentially.  Real estate speculators such as Danny Haber, James Kilpatrick and Los Angeles based Hawkins Capital have gained control of the buildings and are currently converting their use in spite of a temporary moratorium.  

The report goes through several of the places that used to house low-income people, starting with the Traveler’s Hotel, bought by “housing disruptors” Danny Haber and Alon Gutman. After the purchase, the owners did substantial renovations; in the end, rent-controlled tenants were forced out (or bought out for small sums); the place is now advertised as “gorgeous apartments” with software-engineer housemates.

The 38-unit Fremont Hotel, the report notes, has been upgraded since its purchase by James Kilpatrick – and the new owner wants to rent to a more upscale clientele than the current low-income Chinese residents.

Then there’s the Sutter Hotel, which is being converted from an SRO into a boutique tourist establishment – possibly, the East Bay Express reports, in direct violation of the city’s moratorium on such conversions.

The list goes on and on.

San Francisco has pretty strict rules on SRO hotel conversions – and still, prices are going up and low-income units are getting lost. And for all the talk of building new housing units, nobody is going to build new SROs. There’s not enough return for the speculative vultures who really control housing policy in the United States.

Happy new year.

  • RuMADorRuREALLYmad

    🙁 Thinking of this and then the sight off of Broadway/underpass – Homeless city.

    • Rosh HoshHosh

      Thinking what? Connect some dots and give us an observation, eh. Tie it together.

      • Porfirio666

        Yeah, REALLYmad, Tie it together for Rosh. Please!

        • Rosh HoshHosh

          You can do it!

  • Tyro

    This is how housing works. Do you think tech workers WANT to live in residential hotels? No, of course not. They wanted to move into new apartments. However, in the absence of other options, they will move into what used to be homes of low-income people. Heck, they probably don’t even want to live in Oakland in the first place, but they couldn’t find anyplace to live in SF.

    This is what happens when there is no new construction.

    • Ragazzu

      “This is what happens when there is no new construction.”

      If that were true, L.A. would have cheap rents and nobody would be displaced.

      • Kraus

        L.A., along with all of coastal California, has been under-producing housing relative to demand for 4 decades

        • Ragazzu

          Th real estate troll can’t help himself. A serious case of logorrhea.

          • Porfirio666

            Raggy thinks anyone who disagree with her must be a troll. The Economist on Los Angeles housing:
            “In 1960 Los Angeles had a population of 2.5m and a capacity for 10m residents. By 2010 the city’s population had swelled to nearly 4m, but zoning and legislation had reduced its capacity to 4.3m.”

            “A good place to start is for politicians never again to utter the words ‘preserve neighbourhood character’,” says Jan Breidenbach of the University of Southern California. “In reality what they’re saying is, ‘Keep out’.”

            In short: NIMBYs created the statewide housing shortage. And YIMBYs will solve it. Viva el YIMBYismo! Viva la revolucion!

            https://www.economist.com/news/united-states/21717976-after-50-years-campaigns-against-growth-nearly-half-city-zoned-single-family

          • Ragazzu

            Yes, Los Angeles, that edenic paradise of fresh air and neighborhood character. Boy, those NIMBYs really did a number down there.

          • Porfirio666

            Raggy just judged the housing crises based on air quality. The air quality would be great throughout California if everybody except Native Americans went back to where they came from. Right, Rags?
            -Also, there are lots of ethnic neighborhoods in the L.A. basin, and the % of residence who are non-white is higher in L.A. than here in S.F, where the NIMBYs run the show.

          • Don Sebastopol

            No one is kept out if they can afford to move in.

          • Porfirio666

            Don, as usual, repeats the NIMBY mantra.

          • Don Sebastopol

            NIMBY and proud!

          • Porfirio666

            Stand and Cheer!

          • Rosh HoshHosh

            As long as we can keep our ideologies and policies divided and partisan — that is what is really important. Your work is crucial, Porfirio. One question — why do you call Raggazu Raggy?

          • Porfirio666

            I’m so sorry. You are right. I was upset because Raggazu wrote above that I was a troll after I had disagreed with him/her. I will be more civilized in the future. And one would hope that he/she will stop screaming “troll” every time an opposing view is expressed. Can we agree on that, Rosh?

          • Kraus

            My preferred pronouns/determiners are “them/themselves/their”.

          • Rosh HoshHosh

            You told me this same shit, and the pronouns are not grammatically correct as you’ve proposed them. How long do you really think you can hang out in the comments before people figure out who you are? Maybe it’s time to come clean?

            Bust down the door and come out swinging. Let’s see what you got.

          • Porfirio666

            Yes, Kraus needs to fess up. Kraus is that mad YIMBY woman who is running for supe in District 6. Either that, or it’s Chris Daly trolling again. The People will decide.

          • Kraus

            “You told me this same shit, and the pronouns are not grammatically correct as you’ve proposed them.”

            So says the cis-gendered anti-LGTBQ “Rosh HoshHosh”.

            Do you even live in San Francisco?
            Ever heard of “gender-neutral”?

          • Rosh HoshHosh

            Anti-LBTBQ, eh? Are we taking off the gloves? 🙂

            Your link shows how the plural pronoun can be used in a sentence certain times once the singular pronoun has been introduced. Your proposal doesn’t pan out.

            Like I said before, Tim Leary created a whole system of gender neutral language and pronouns — you can read it in his book from the 60’s called “Info-Psychology.”

            I live in D5. Wouldn’t that be ‘nativism’ your espousing there?

            1750 McAllister is in my back yard here in northern panhandle. That’s where I vote. 10 stories of pure subsidized housing. Check it out.

          • Kraus

            California in 1954 had a population of 12.75 million and produced 207,903 units of housing that year.

            California in 2016 had a population of 39.25 million and only produced 100,961 units of housing.

            California , due to the NIMBYism that you espouse, isn’t anywhere near producing enough new housing — even for the children of current residents; much less migrants.

          • Do Something Nice

            Yes, it is NIMBYism and not the price of land or the cost of building that has slowed development. Or something.

          • Kraus

            “Do Something Nice”,

            A mini-tutorial in basic economics:

            Consistently restricting the supply of housing through NIMBYism causes upward pressure on the price of housing (i.e., both land and improvements).

            The increased cost of housing — being the single greatest household expense — therefore increases the cost of labor.
            The increased cost of labor (e.g. construction labor), therefore increases the cost of producing housing.

            Rinse and repeat this exercise over 4 decades, due to NIMBY political hegemony, and one has “created” the current housing crisis.

            Fortunately YIMBY political power is ascendent and we are putting an end to your nonsense.

          • Don Sebastopol

            Hosing will run only to the point someone is willing and able to pay.

          • Porfirio666

            No, hosing makes people wet.

          • Porfirio666

            Supply/Demand. Ever heard of that? It population growth is higher than housing-supply growth, the resulting supply shortage drives up prices. Economics 101, dude. Happy New Year!

          • Do Something Nice

            Yes, but you ‘free market’ types always focus on the supply. Choke the demand and the supply is no longer an issue.

          • Sanchez Resident

            Yeah, finally we can start discussing population control. Two children limit, vasectomies provided for free from Medicare. Let’s discuss this.

          • Porfirio666

            Yes! The Chinese communist model.

          • Porfirio666

            “Choke the demand.” And how do you propose doing that? Closing the border a la Trump? Buying property with public funds and building housing for Tim Redmond and other people who are already here a la Tim R.?
            -It is impossible to depress housing demand. The only solution is to build, build, build. Gov. Brown understands that.

          • Do Something Nice

            Choke demand by freezing all current office building development and not approving any new projects. Suing other cities that support office building development but don’t allow housing to be built. s

            Choke demand by forcing companies to move to where economic development is needed.

          • Porfirio666

            I agree that we should facilitate housing over office construction. How is that going to reduce housing demand in San Francisco, again?

          • Kraus

            Got it. The good old fashion totalitarian way!

          • zutsa

            What about kids that grow up here? Where will they live?

          • Porfirio666

            The kids who grow up here can stay. Kids who grow up elsewhere cannot. I think your average NIMBY would with that.
            ….

          • Kraus

            As would Stalin.

          • Kraus

            People require housing.
            Who do you propose to choke and how exactly do you propose to implement your program of violence?

          • Don Sebastopol

            Not enough housing for who? You don’t have a house?

          • Rosh HoshHosh

            A unit of housing in 1954 was often a barack bed. Quite literally.

          • Porfirio666

            Good point there! Barracks with one R were big back then.

          • Kraus

            🙂

    • Do Something Nice

      San Francisco needs to be bulldozed to allow the construction of hundreds of Hong Kong-style highrises so 20-somethings who have been ridiculously coddled by well-intentioned but clueless parents for their entire lives should not have to suffer not getting what they want for the first time in their lives. Or something.

      • Tyro

        Well, in the absence of new construction in SF, people move into existing units in SF that are currently lived in by low income people. When those fill up, they move to Oakland. And with little construction in Oakland, they will go on to move into the units currently lived in by low-income people.

        You don’t have to build more housing if you don’t want to. But if you rent, keep in mind that people are perfectly happy to move into your or your neighbor’s home in the absence of other options.

        • Do Something Nice

          Only because SF allowed hundreds of thousands of square feet of office space to be built.

          That nonsense needs to stop now and possibly should be reversed.

          • Sanchez Resident

            By reversal, are you implying that the office buildings should be converted to affordable housing? That is a very good idea.

          • Do Something Nice

            Truthfully, I didn’t think of that, but your idea is great.

          • Don Sebastopol

            I agree it is a good idea. Wasn’t the CSAA building on Van Ness converted?

          • Tyro

            People were moving to SF and the rest of the bay area long before there was an office space boom. You belabor under this illusion that the answer is “don’t build it, and they won’t come.”

            If there was no office space boom, then you’d see small businesses getting displaced and retail space repurposed into offices.

          • Don Sebastopol

            Zoning could prevent retail from becoming office use. Those controls are already in place in neighborhood commercial streets. Or at least they require conditional use.

          • Don Sebastopol

            They can come but they won’t find a place to live unless they can afford it. If not, they will leave.

          • Tyro

            And so wages will go up, and people will bid up the price of what used to be middle income housing.

            If someone with more money than you have can’t find a place to live that he likes, he will be perfectly willing to settle for second-best, which happens to be your home, which he can outbid you for.

          • Do Something Nice

            Right. Because Uber could function with 40 different small offices in the city. Or something.

          • Don Sebastopol

            I agree. Maybe we should limit any more office building and build housing instead.

          • Watson Ladd

            No, because the bay area has a booming economy that saved CA from bankruptcy. Who do you think pays income tax in CA, poor people?

          • Do Something Nice

            Oh, I see. It is the responsibility of the Bay Area to save the California economy. And there is no other place in California to build office space and housing except the Bay Area.

            Why should people in Fresno have opportunities? We need to have all tech companies move to the Bay Area.

          • Watson Ladd

            Tech companies congregate because this is where the workers are. Why are you against the Bay Area being a real place instead of endless suburbia? We’re talking about 4 story apartment buildings instead of 1 story single family homes.

          • Rosh HoshHosh

            Are you insinuating poor people in CA don’t pay income taxes?

            And when was this that the bay area saved CA from bankruptcy?

            Back it up or pack it up Watson Ladd.

          • Porfirio666

            Poor people pay a lot of sales tax. But little income tax, given that income taxes don’t kick in until you earn $19,000 per annum.

        • Don Sebastopol

          They are welcome to move into my neighborhood. I am happy to have them.

          • Kraus

            “They are welcome to move into my neighborhood. I am happy to have them.”

            But since, you don’t want to allow them to have affordable housing in your neighborhood, I suppose you’d be “happy” to have them live on the streets.

          • Don Sebastopol

            “They” meaning the they that move to Oakland. I agree, the young professionals moving to Oakland probably will not be able to afford my neighborhood until their careers advance and they have an employed spouse. Most who brought recently are dual income households. Most were in their late 30’s or early 40’s with school-age children. They outgrew their condos or apartments.

      • Porfirio666

        Nice hyperbole. We could, in fact, use some Hong Kong-style housing here.

      • Kraus

        “Do Something Nice”,

        So says the self-entitled NIMBY Baby Boomer who squandered the legacy of the Greatest Generation.

        That’s rich.

        • Do Something Nice

          Yes, that’s me. I have so much power that, single-handedly, I squandered the legacy of one generation and ruined the lives of those in subsequent generations.

    • Don Sebastopol

      They could move to Texas.

    • Rosh HoshHosh

      Don’t forget SF just erected the largest office building west of the Sears Tower. Maybe we’ve put the cart before the horse?

      • Porfirio666

        Cart/horse. I think you’re getting your metaphor backwards.

  • Do Something Nice

    But the tech industry contributes so much to society.

    https://www.wired.com/story/the-other-tech-bubble/amp

    • playland

      Contributes absolutely. nothing.

      I mean…it’s not as if you are using Disqus to comment on a blog that uses Google to generate advertising revenue. A blog that uses Twitter and Facebook also…

      Oh…wait…never mind.

      • Do Something Nice

        Yeah, unlike the refrigerator, antibiotics, and Macy’s liberal return policy, Disqus has changed society for the better.

      • playland

        Exactly. Just today I read this headline about people fighting for their rights in Iran:
        Iran restricts social media as anti-government protests enter 4th day

        Just goes to show you how meaningless the tech industry is. Contributes absolutely nothing. You are right on.

        • Do Something Nice

          The tech industry is meaningless. The monetize content created by others. They contribute nothing, and your example would be similar to congratulating the paper industry for print journalism.

          • playland

            OK, OK. I just think it’s really funny when someone gets information from a blog that couldn’t have existed a few years ago and expresses their own thoughts to others on Disqus and then they say that “the tech industry is meaningless”, as if they could do these things without the tech industry.

            Yeah, you could read a limited weekly print version of the SFBG and then write a letter to the editor.

            I just think it’s funny. Have a happy New Year!

          • zutsa

            What a shamefully fickle statement. Ignorant nonsense.

            Dictionary.com is here. Wikimedia is here. Anyone can literally look up the answer to basically any thing you want via Google. It’s not all Uber for dogs.

  • curiousKulak

    There is no alt for people on SSI banking $861/mth. Even a room in an SRO will cost more than that, and then there’s food, etc.

    But SRO-type accommodations are the way to go for this group. If you want a private bath or a kitchen or anything other than a bed (private optional?), the cost does (and should) climb precipitously. When it costs $200 to fix a broken glass window, expecting housing for $300/mth is ludicrous.

    Is the problem really housing? or is it the money/income to be able to afford that housing? (of course, it doesn’t help if housing units don’t parallel population growth.)

  • Don Sebastopol

    I would hope government social workers and community organizations funded by tax money would help former residents of these SRO’s find other housing or help them relocate to a lower cost area.

    • curiousKulak

      Local govmint just hasn’t come up with a way to make private parties pay for public accommodations – to the extent that they’d like. Sure, rent control proves useful, if a blunt tool (plenty of hi-income individuals sheltered in RC units).

      But some situations require an actual pay-out. To the extent gov. can’t get private parties to do this, they’d rather ignore that problem.

      I guess asking the tax-payers to cover anywhere near the real costs would be so overwhelmingly negative to the taxpayers, or such an admission of inadequacy of the gate-keepers, as to completely thwart their desires and intentions.

  • Watson Ladd

    Imagine for a moment if we had lots of 1 BR apartments. Would tech workers want to live in these SROs instead?