ABL statement on rent control to City Council, in support of Alameda Renters Coalition

Statement to City Council on April 4, 2017:

Good evening and thank you for the opportunity to address the council. I am here representing Alameda for Black Lives. We are a local multi-racial group that works in service of the Movement for Black Lives. As an organization dedicated to galvanize the community to fight for racial justice in Alameda and beyond, Alameda for Black Lives stands in solidarity with Alameda Renters Coalition as we work to protect the rights and interests of renters in Alameda. The problems renters face in Alameda—unaffordable rents, unsustainable rent increases, substandard housing conditions, harmful environmental conditions and more—fall disproportionately on the backs of people of color. As a result, the fight to protect Alamedans’ homes is an issue of racial justice. We call on the Alameda City Council to show their dedication to fighting racism and to protecting the lives of our Black and Brown neighbors by enacting the strongest possible protections for Alameda renters.

Strong protections for Alameda renters are necessary to combat the legacy and ongoing reality of the role of housing in the oppression of people of color. For generations, Black people have been systematically locked out of home ownership, attacked by predatory lending practices, and segregated in substandard and unaffordable housing. Far from being a thing of the past, these racist practices have lasting consequences. They also continue today. As a result, Black people pay a higher proportion of their incomes for housing, have unequal access to quality schools, and often live in polluted areas that create higher rates of asthma, cancer, and other environmental illnesses.

Protections for our neighbors of color are not only in their interest—they are in the interests of all Alamedans who wish our community to be fair, vibrant, welcoming, and diverse. All around the Bay Area, we see the consequences of rapidly rising rents in a wave of gentrification that pushes out people of color and creates increasingly homogenous communities, stripped of their racial and economic diversity, reduced to bedroom communities and enclaves of the wealthy. We have a chance to make a stand against these forces, and show that we in Alameda want a different kind of town.

More than half of all Alameda residents are renters—local shop owners, teachers, Scout leaders, bus drivers, spiritual leaders, friends, and neighbors—but many will soon be priced out of the community. We must protect the rights of renters as strongly as possible in order to ensure that Alameda is truly welcoming to all people of color.

Alameda for Black Lives is committed to an Alameda in which "Everyone Belongs Here" is not just a feel-good slogan but an attainable and legally protected truth for all.