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    Let’s Give Affordable Housing Entities a Fair Shot at Residential Property Tax Auctions

    By Rebecca Kaplan, Oakland City Councilmember At-Large–

    The Oakland City Council unanimously passed a resolution supporting and requesting that the California State Legislature enact legislation that would support affordable housing by requiring that the affordable housing entities be given access to tax auction properties on the purchase of residential housing properties subject to tax auction.

    If the Legislature enacts this legislation, it would be an important move forward in the effort to support affordable housing in the state of California. We must do everything we can to promote the efficient creation of affordable housing. 

    Homelessness increased 47% in Oakland since 2017, in part because of the soaring housing prices and real estate speculation by large investment corporations. Wages for Black and Brown populations remain stagnant as the city becomes more gentrified, increasing the risk of eviction and housing insecurity.

    California is home to 12% of the nation’s population, but a disproportionate 22% of the nation’s homeless populations. The majority of Californian renters pay more than 30% of their income toward rent, and nearly 1.5 million households are paying more than 50% of their income toward rent.

    The California Surplus Lands Act is an important tool for getting lands deemed no longer necessary for an agency’s use and making these lands available for affordable housing development. The Act provides that the local agency disposing of surplus land sends, prior to disposing of that property or participating in negotiations to dispose of that property with a prospective transferee, a written notice of availability to affordable housing entities.

    What we ask is that residential properties, which would be disposed of at tax auction, should be treated in a similar manner to Surplus Lands. New rules would be created governing residential properties that would use Surplus Lands as a model.

    As a result, a written notice of availability should be sent to all interested parties, including the affordable housing entities prior to the disposition of the property at tax auction. While the California Legislature’s 2019 expansion of the Surplus Lands Act was an important step forward to promoting affordable housing, the absence of a specific provision regarding the treatment of residential surplus lands prior to tax auction was an important omission.

    Let us continue to work towards preventing further displacement of our Oakland communities by urging our California State legislature for support in reclaiming residential housing, requiring that affordable housing entities be given right of first refusal on the purchase of residential housing properties subject to tax auction.

    We must preserve the historically rich culture and diversity in Oakland and ensure Oakland and California remain accessible to all socio-economic levels.

    Councilmember At-Large and Council President Rebecca Kaplan was elected in 2008 to serve as Oakland’s citywide Councilmember; she was re-elected in 2016 and 2020. She also serves on the Alameda County Transportation Commission (ACTC). Follow Councilmember Kaplan on Twitter @Kaplan4Oakland ( ) and Facebook  ( ).

    Published on November 19, 2020