San Jose

Rent Control Changes Coming to San Jose

In a last ditch effort before a City Council vote on rent control, tenants gathered to voice their concerns over a development project that will displace them from their homes.

The group says a relocation package Councilman Chappie Jones will propose during Tuesday’s San Jose City Council meeting is not enough for displaced tenants to transition to market-rate homes.

"Every day we’re waking up wondering: is that eviction notice going to be on our door?" said Brandie Locke, a tenant for four years of the Reserve Apartments on Winchester Boulevard.

When Locke and other members of the Reserve Apartments Tenant Association were trying to save their homes, they called it an uphill battle. After the city approved razing the 216 rent-restricted units and building a new market-rate 650-unit development, tenants say it is all downhill from here.

"How are you going to take care of us? Rather than treating us like we’re dirt in the ground to be grinded over," said Dion Riley, who has lived at Reserve for 12 years with his mother and two brothers.

Councilman Jones says the proposal was meant to gives the tenants some relief in the short term.

"We have a tight rental market and these residents who have been here a long time are now out in the market trying to find a new place to live. So by having this in place we can make it a lot easier for them and give them some support," Jones said.

Jones says his relocation proposal will not be adopted in time for Reserve Apartment residents to benefit, so he says negotiations with developer Greystar over the packages are ongoing.

Currently, Greystar has offered two types of relocation benefits based on Jones’ proposal.

For eligible low-income households at or below 80 percent of Area Media Income (AMI):

  • Three months of current rent
  • Full refund of security deposit
  • Access to a relocation specialist
  • $3,000 extra for seniors, people with disabilities and families with at least one dependent child living at the property

For those above 80 percent AMI:

  • Full refund of security deposit
  • Access to a relocation specialist

"Personally, I’m only looking at getting my $100 security deposit back," Locke said.

Members of the Reserve Apartments Tenant Association that spoke Monday say they are caught in the middle, making too much to qualify for special benefits but too little to compete with other renters for market-rate units.

Displaced tenants feel politicians are siding with developers.

"Whatever policy decisions we decide, these owners are not necessarily the large Greystars of the world. The majority are your small business owners," Jones said, explaining landlords have come to him concerned with making sufficient profits.

The tenant association has given Jones their own list of transition funding needed from Greystar. They say they gave him until Wednesday to review it.

Meanwhile, Riley says his family would just like to feel as if the city is watching out for them.

"Take care of everybody here, not as units but as people who have lives, who have concerns, who have problems, who have needs," Riley said. "And provide them with the assistance they need so they can go forward with their lives."

Meantime, council members are expected to lower how much landlords can raise prices on rent-control units. It is currently 8 percent per year, and some members have asked for as low as 5 percent per year.

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