Because of the high cost of housing in the Bay Area, tenants in Concord have formed a union in what is being called a first for Contra Costa County.
The union is designed to serve people whose rents doubled or tripled or who feel like their leases were terminated unfairly.
Concord residents have been fighting for rent control and tenants rights for several years. They’ve been asking the city to adopt a just cause eviction policy.
They have yet to get that policy, and now they are organizing.
Betty Gabaldon is a renter and has been living in her Walnut Creek apartment for a year. She was kicked out of a Concord complex after getting a $400 rent increase.
"At the time, we thought it was illegal to do that, raise the rent that much," Gabaldon said.
So she started organizing tenants to fight back. The newly formed union is called Todos Santos Tenants Union.
"Tenants are asking for stronger tenants protection rights now," said Eduardo Torres of Tenants Together. "In Concord, they don’t exist."
The union will help people fight for rent control, just cause evictions and to be able to complain about slumlords without fear of being kicked out of their homes.
"We’re hoping this is forming some tenant power in the city, building community power, offer resources," Torres said.
Renters have been lobbying the Concord City Council for years to enact rent control and force landlords to terminate leases only for justifiable reasons. It was voted down in June.
"It’s important for everybody to know their rights and not be afraid and for them to feel support that they’re not alone," Gabaldon said.
Next year, the council will vote on an existing rent review program that it believes will have more teeth.
The renters union believes it’s a watered-down version of what they want.