Fremont, CA - Due to unreasonable increases in rents and no-cause evictions, more and more families in Fremont are being displaced from their homes, forced to take their children out of our local schools and leave behind their social, faith, professional, and cultural networks. Thirty seven percent of Fremont residents are renters and among that group, 42% are cost-burdened, meaning they pay more than 30% of their household income on rent. This is no surprise given that a two-bedroom apartment in Fremont now averages $2,736, which marks a staggering 82% increase in just five years; meanwhile, incomes only grew by 11.5%. The widening gap between housing costs and workers’ paychecks is not sustainable.
For these reasons, since summer 2015, Residents Insisting on Social Equity (RISE) and our partners have been working on a campaign to win tenants' protections in Fremont. RISE firmly believes that the combination of rent control and just cause for eviction are the most effective tools to stabilize communities and build the power of low-income communities and communities of color to determine their own destinies.
There is a strong push for renters' rights throughout the state and region. In California, 15 cities now have binding rent control and just cause policies. In the Bay Area, along with Berkeley, East Palo Alto, Hayward, Los Gatos, Oakland, San Jose, and San Francisco, Richmond, Alameda, and Mountain View recently won similar policies in 2016 through voter referendums. This May, delegates at the California Democratic Party Convention took a historic vote in support of rent control and just cause for eviction by passing Resolution 17-05.81. Rent control and just cause for eviction will be on even more ballots during special elections this year. Fremont must be part of this growing housing justice movement.
We know that the non-binding mediation program is ineffective, time-intensive, costly, and burdens renters to initiate the mediation process without any guarantee of rent decreases, an end to harassment, or lease extensions from landlords; it is wholly insufficient to address the severity of the current affordability crisis.
We need clear facts and data to write robust legislation. The consultants’ report to the City of Fremont on rent stabilization indicates the efficacy of RRIDRO by citing that from July to December 2016, 20 out of 31 cases were resolved using “peer counseling” provided by the Rental Housing Association (RHA). However, our more comprehensive analysis from March 2012 through March 31, 2015 shows only a two percent success rate in rent reductions (19 out of 932 calls). Clearly, RRIDRO reform is not the solution.
We recommend that the City Council:
● Adopt a rent control policy that allows an annual increase at 100% of the change in the Consumer Price Index and no greater than five percent; includes strong just cause for eviction and anti-harassment protections; ensures relocation payments and a fair rate of return for landlords; and is paid through a per unit fee on landlords which may be partly passed on to tenants to offset costs
● Pass a temporary moratorium on rent increases and no-fault evictions as it works to adopt a permanent rent stabilization program
On July 11, elected officials have a critical role to play in building diverse and inclusive communities. We ask that you exercise your political muscle to pass citywide rent control and just cause for eviction policies. Not only does it make sense, it is the right thing to do.
We hope community members will join us to speak on this critical issue at the Fremont City Council meeting next Tuesday, July 11 at 7 pm. RISE will convene a short rally outside City Hall at 6:30 pm. For more information, please contact RISE at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Residents Insisting on Social Equity (RISE) is a coalition of faith congregations, residents, cultural organizations, and policy advocates fighting to make sure Fremont is an affordable, equitable, and diverse community. We are united and resolved to make sure everyone is valued, especially those most in need. Urban Habitat is a proud member of RISE.