Last spring, as members of Educate78’s Teacher Advisory Group, we had the opportunity to research housing affordability – an issue near and dear to our hearts – as part of our group’s multi-faceted efforts to improve teacher retention in Oakland.

The Alameda County Board of Supervisors estimates that rents in Oakland have increased 34 percent between 2011 and 2015, making Oakland the fourth most expensive housing market in the country. Our fellow teachers, as well as many of our students and their families, have been personally affected by the skyrocketing costs of housing in Oakland. And unfortunately, as we have learned, no “silver bullet” will fix this complex problem. However, cities all over the country have been trying a variety of promising strategies – from loan forgiveness to rent subsidization to building housing specifically for teachers.

On November 8, we will have the opportunity to vote on three local ballot measures that aim to increase affordable housing. We want to raise awareness about these measures so you can learn more and vote informed!

Alameda County Measure A1: Affordable Housing Bond

Summary: This measure proposes $580 million for affordable housing in Alameda County, including $425 million for affordable rental housing, $35 million for quick responses to current crisis (like anti-displacement strategies), and $50 million to help residents with down payments for houses.

Who pays for it: This bond would be funded by Alameda County homeowners, who would pay a property tax based on the value of their home. The average homeowner would pay $48-$56 per year.

Why it matters to educators: Oakland has limited affordable housing for those who make less than 120% of the Area Median Income. The average Oakland teacher in 2015 was making $55,000[1], equivalent to ~85% of Area Median Income for a one-person household (click here to see where you fall on the affordable housing AMI index and visit the Mayor’s Housing Cabinet website below to learn more)[2]. As a result, our students and colleagues are being forced to find more affordable options which often that means leaving Oakland completely. This measure would add protected housing inventory, which will enable students to remain in their schools, families to remain in the city, and educators to live where we work.

[1] KALW.org, Why Are Teachers Leaving Oakland?. Dalmas, Jeremy, April 21, 2015. Retrieved from http://kalw.org/post/why-are-teachers-leaving-oakland#stream/0 on 11/1/2016.

[2]

Measure JJ: Renter Protections

Summary: This measure addresses the number of people being displaced through unjust evictions and requires landlords to petition for approval from the city to raise rents beyond the current rate of inflation. It will help current renters remain in their homes, and will extend Just Cause eviction protections to buildings that were constructed before 1995 (not just buildings built prior to 1980).

Who pays for it: There is no direct cost for taxpayers.

Why it matters to educators: Rents are going up and affordable rental housing is getting harder to find. The additional protections  proposed in this measure is intended to provide more security for teachers and other Oakland residents.

Oakland Measure KK: Affordable Housing & Infrastructure Bond

Summary: Measure KK is a $600 million investment in both affordable housing and community improvements. This measure provides $100 million for affordable housing strategies that prevent displacement, $350 million for improvements for our streets, sidewalks, and bike lanes, and $150 million for upgrades to our city facilities like our libraries, parks, and senior facilities.

Who pays for it: Oakland property owners would pay $65 for every $100,000 of assessed value on their property.

Why it matters to educators: Educators know the value of investing in our communities. This bond provides resources that will benefit all Oakland’s residents. Investments like these can help make our cities safer and connect our community. They can also help us attract the next generation of educators who will continue to invest in our students.

Learn more about these and other ballot measures at the Alameda County Registrar of Voters, which includes impartial analysis of each measure, plus arguments in support and in opposition.

Oakland Magazine, East Bay Times, and East Bay Express have also made endorsements on these measures.

We also encourage you to visit the Mayor’s Housing Cabinet website and read A Roadmap to Equity if you’re interested in learning more about the City of Oakland’s near- and long-term plans to address housing affordability in Oakland.

We and many of our fellow teachers have talked with our students about the importance of civic engagement, and of doing the research to be an informed voter. We know that there are many choices to make on this November’s ballot and hope this has helped you learn more about these three important measures!

Alanna Baumert

Alanna Baumert

Teacher at Lighthouse Community Charter High School

Member of Educate78’s Teacher Advisory Group in 2016

Jeremy Crouthamel

Jeremy Crouthamel

Former teacher at Roosevelt Middle School

Member of Educate78’s Teacher Advisory Group in 2016