Newly proposed law gives tenants first right to purchase housing in Oakland

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Inspired by Moms 4 Housing and the homeless crisis, an Oakland City Councilmember put forth a plan to keep rental units in the hands of the tenants occupying them.

RELATED: Moms 4 Housing: Oakland moms reach deal to buy vacant house they squatted in for 2 months

A new law addressing the housing crisis was presented to the Oakland Rules and Legislation committee.

"This policy would be very specific to Oakland," Councilmember Chief of Staff Miya Saiko Chen said. "It's called the tenant opportunity to purchase act or TOPA ."

Oakland City Councilmember Nikki Fortunato Bas said, "It will completely relieve our displacement and gentrification crisis. It will reduce homelessness. "

On the steps of City Hall, organizers praised Moms 4 Housing for highlighting the issue when they occupied a vacant home in West Oakland until they were evicted earlier this month.

RELATED: Oakland moms refuse to leave vacant house, sheriffs say they will enforce eviction

Moms 4 Housing co-founder Dominique Walker said, "It will give tenants the right of first refusal. That means they have the opportunity to purchase first. "

The new ordinance would potentially allow landlords to sell their property at full market value, but there would be some yet to be specified parameters for making sure tenants and community groups have a chance to match the market price and obtain the property.

A similar policy was enacted in San Francisco in 2019 to address housing affordability but Oakland may take it a lot further -- not just giving community groups the first right to purchase, but also giving that right to the tenants themselves.

RELATED: Affordable housing units in Hayward force out tenants 'making too much'

The debate will continue in another committee hearing on Feb. 25.

Take a look at more Building A Better Bay Area stories and videos on the housing crisis here.

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