Voters in Oakland will decide Nov. 6 whether or not to close an eviction loophole that housing advocates argue is forcing low-income families out of their neighborhoods.
Under current law, landlords can quickly evict tenants without cause if the landlord lives in the same building. Measure Y aims to change that.
If it fails to pass, renters advocates say more landlords will get away with fraudulent evictions.
Measure Y opponents, meanwhile, argue that if it passes, it will further harm an already bleak housing market, with potential landlords deciding it’s not worth the hassle to build and rent their granny units or duplexes.
Two families in Oakland say they’re getting pushed out because their landlords are exploiting the loophole.
Josephine Hardy sees 47 years of memories in her triplex in West Oakland. It’s the home where she raised her kids and the only home her 29-year-old granddaughter Raynette has ever known.
"My neighbors, my family, the familiarity with the community, I’m going to miss it all," Hardy said. "If I have to move to Pinole or god knows where, I don’t know."
Hardy has until February to move out of the house. Last year, a new owner purchased the triplex and then tried to raise the rent far beyond what was legal under rent control.
After Hardy's family fought and won in court, she said the landlord evicted Hardy's son who lived in one unit, saying the owner was moving in. Now, the landlord wants everyone else out as well.
"Oakland has this ridiculous loophole, where if it’s a duplex or triplex and the landlord alleges that they live in the building, they can be evicted for no reason," said Sarah Winfield, a tenants rights attorney.
Winfield said most of her cases involve the same loophole.
"It not only causes displacement, it causes rampant displacement," she said.
Robin Jones of West Oakland lives at a different address, but is in the same situation.
"Families like us, we don’t have anywhere to go," Jones said.
Hardy and Jones are calling on voters to vote Yes on Measure Y, which would remove the loophole for owner-occupied duplexes and triplexes. Even if Measure Y passes on Election Day, it will be too late for Jones and Hardy because the legal eviction process is already underway.
"No other family should be able to go through this," Jones said.
The attorney for Hardy’s landlord did not respond to requests for comment.