Gentrification Survey by Coliseum College Prep Students

“It’s scary to see how my community is changing right before my eyes and I can only imagine how much it would change once I come back from college.”

May 12th, 2016

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“Gentrification – A Gentrified Oakland”
Eddie Moore Jr. – Coliseum College Prep Academy

My senior economics class at Coliseum College Prep Academy spent nearly a month collecting survey answers to this question: How are gentrification, displacement, and the tech industry impacting Oakland? Over a span of eleven days in April, we collected 723 survey responses. The largest racial group surveyed was Latino, representing 45% of survey responses, followed by Whites with 34% of survey responses, and African-Americans with 15% of survey responses. Of the people who gave survey responses, 47% lived in East Oakland, 16% lived in North Oakland, 10% lived in Downtown or Lake Merritt, and 7% lived in West Oakland. In addition, close to half of those surveyed also earned less than $50,000 a year. Overall, gentrification, displacement, and the tech industry has caused people the leave Oakland due to increase in housing.

Two-thirds of surveyees knew someone who had moved from Oakland because of high housing prices. 80% of White and Black surveyees knew people who had been forced out of Oakland because of high housing prices, compared to 57% of Latinos who knew of someone who was forced out of Oakland. Across race, income level, and neighborhood surveyees all indicated that gentrification had a significant impact on Oakland. 75% of surveyees noted an increase in housing prices as a result of gentrification; 59% noticed a racial shift in their neighborhood, and 49% noticed displacement of longtime residents. Gentrification has not only caused residents of Oakland to experience higher housing prices and displacement out of homes, it has impacted the police in certain communities. Due to our survey findings, we can conclude that places that have been gentrified are less likely to see police in their neighborhood. There was an income inequity associated with gentrification. Surveyees with incomes under $50,000 a year were more likely to see police officers multiple times a day rather than those who earn more than $75,000 a year. There is also a neighborhood inequity associated with gentrification. Gentrified residential areas have faster police response times because burglars know that it’s more to take in these areas. 50% of East Oakland residents marked that police response time in their neighborhood was 1-2 hours, compared to most North Oakland residents who noted police response time between 10-20 minutes. Across race, income level, and neighborhood, two-thirds of surveyees said that Uber’s arrival in Oakland would cause increases in rental prices and displacement, and cause fewer jobs to be available for Oakland residents.
I believe that Gentrification and Displacement has been relatively high in the East Oakland community, due to the tech industry. Although East Oakland is seeing the beginnings of the gentrification process, I can see the changes. As an African American resident in East Oakland. I have seen a racial shift in my neighborhood. I have also experienced a rent increase in the last year. African Americans were more likely than other racial groups to have experienced being forced out of their homes. A quarter of African American surveyees had experienced eviction, foreclosure, or been kicked out.

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Four students of color had stories of their own about how gentrification has affected them as current or former Oakland residents.

Christian Kinnick: I have seen people in my neighborhood being kicked out of their old homes, and the prices keep going up. People have to move to cheaper apartments or houses in deeper East Oakland. The house bills keep going up and up, and it causes a lot of stress.

Ja’Keemah Seals: In 2014 my family lost our home in Oakland California. The house had been in my family for nearly 3 generations, and losing that house meant losing our family’s history and memories. We got a 60 day notice to leave, and that was the beginning of our search of a home. Finding an apartment in Oakland was impossible. With only one source of income,we could not afford rent at the minimum of 1600 monthly. We were forced to leave our city because we could find nothing. After the 60 days were up we were forced to live with friends and that is when I knew we were homeless.
Now I am a senior in high school and my family and I commute to Oakland everyday from Hayward California. Because of the commute my academic performance (especially in my first class of the day) has been negatively impacted. Through it all I have managed to stay afloat and this fall I will be attending Sonoma State University, with the dream of returning to my community to provide mental health services.

Jeffrei Pettaway: In my neighborhood I have seen long time residents leaving. There are more and more “for sale” signs going up in the yards of houses where I live. Because houses are vacant more and more people are moving in however, they may not have the ability to sustain so they leave shortly after. Those who I assume do have the ability to sustain living in my neighborhood are the white people, because they stay.
It is scary to experience the culture of your neighborhood changing: it still has its liquor stores, the park down the street, the school that all the kids go to, but the people are not the same. I feel that there is a divide between the new white residents and the people of color who have been living here. Our relationship and view of them is analogous to one looking at an exotic animal in a zoo. You can’t touch it, talk to it, or agitate it because it might attack you. You can only look at it in awe, like something you’ve never seen before.

William Tobar: I’ve lived in the same house for the past 5 years. From there, I’ve seen several of my neighbors leave either due to the rise of rent or due to heavy police presence. Now, I could describe my neighbors (the ones who just recently moved into the empty houses) as stubborn and ignorant for not comprehending the struggle their low income neighbors must go through to keep living in the same home. During my own housing crisis, my family faced a rent increase. When we first started renting the house, we would pay $1500, and it had remained consistent throughout the XXXX years we lived there, until recently when our landlord announced that he will be raising our rent to $1700. This rent increment impacted us in the sense that we had to cut several activities and it personally impacted me because I had to start working more hours to help with the income. He said that he wasn’t raising our rent more because we had been there for a long time, however, if we were to leave the house, he would charge the new people $2500.
It’s scary to see how my community is changing right before my eyes and I can only imagine how much it would change once I come back from college.

In conclusion, this current trend of fast-paced gentrification is not only affecting the current population, but generations to come. Oakland has been historically known as a place where the majority of the population is Black or Brown. For example, Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale, were West Oakland residents, the founders of the Black Panther party, and fought for equal rights for low-income communities. Now, with gentrification, this historic Party is going to be forgotten in history due to Black and Brown residents being forced out of Oakland.

In order to help avoid more evictions, Oakland’s mayor should take the issue of gentrification more seriously and come to the aid of long time Oakland residents by creating a laws that secure housing rights of lifelong Oakland tenants, specially the most vulnerable populations: low-income people of color.

As Oakland residents, we should help to advocate for our rights, and we should help the community by educating ourselves and our peers in what and who should we call when we are getting harassed by a landlord or when they are treating you in a non-humane way. This city is our home, and we have a right to stay here.

Oakland Renter Concerns
Myelin Serrano and Mirella Torres – Coliseum College Prep Academy

We are seniors at Coliseum College Prep Academy in Oakland. Our senior class conducted a survey to answer the question, “How are gentrification, displacement and the tech industry impacting Oakland?” With the data found, we want to inform our community about the concerns renters have and how racial, income, and neighborhood inequity connect to the displacement of people in Oakland. The high percentage of people being kicked out from their homes and the racial inequality are issues that need to be addressed and ended for the better of our community.

Rent is a big concern for low income communities like Oakland. Rent increase, income, landlord harassment and eviction are some of the problems that Oakland residents are facing. Based on the survey, we have noticed inequality. For example, surveyees with incomes of under $50,000 were more likely than higher-income surveyees to have moved from their neighborhoods to find cheaper housing, and were also more likely to have also been forced out of their homes.

In terms of racial inequity, Asian and Black surveyees were more likely than Latinos and Whites to have been pressured by landlords to move out . According to the data from our survey, 24% of African-Americans we surveyed have experienced eviction, foreclosure–more than ten percentage points more than Whites or Latinos.

Gentrification is one of the main causes of the increase in rent in Oakland. There can be positive impacts of gentrification, but most of our surveyees identified negative effects, like less employment, home evictions, and displacement. The city of Oakland can take specific actions to address this issue. One of the actions we would recommend is to make affordable housing accessible for the families that need it the most. Increasing rent only brings more conflict because it causes people to move out, which means a decrease in our economy. Another action that can be taken is educating renters about their rights. Pressure and harassment from landlords are forms of oppression that renters face. If they know their rights, they can protect themselves and it can prevent them from being evicted from their homes. As Oakland residents, we and our family members have struggled to keep up with rent payments, therefore we have moved several times to find cheaper housing.

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