Opinion: San Jose should stand against unjust evictions

 Diana Alvarado Rodriguez , Greg Smith  and Father Robert Fambrini | San Jose Mercury News| LInk to Article

Jocelin Hernandez, center, addresses the crowd tenants’ rights advocates prepare to march down the Alameda in San Jose on April 7. (Patrick Tehan/Bay Area News Group)

Jocelin Hernandez, center, addresses the crowd tenants’ rights advocates prepare to march down the Alameda in San Jose on April 7. (Patrick Tehan/Bay Area News Group)

April 18 will be a defining moment for our city and valley: The San Jose City Council will decide who belongs — and who is forced to leave.

On this date, the city leaders will be voting on whether or not to protect our renter community from displacement and unjust, no-cause evictions.

Our city has changed: It was once the most diverse in the United States, but the housing crisis is creating a San Jose where diversity can no longer thrive.

 

One out of every 10 students at San Jose State University does not have stable housing. Teachers, construction workers, firefighters, and other public servants — people who form the lifeblood of the city — are leaving, unable to keep up with skyrocketing rents.

And some of our most vulnerable community members including senior citizens, veterans and those with disability have become victims of displacement and eviction as landlords aim to achieve higher profits.

We at PACT call on San Jose leaders to affirmatively state we all belong.

As a community — public officials and faith leaders together — we have declared that we stand in solidarity with immigrants against the threat of deportation because we value the dignity of our diverse community.

This will be hollow if we continue to allow people to be pushed out. Today, landlords are permitted to arbitrarily evict families. Those living in rent-controlled units meant to provide stability for vulnerable families can be slapped with a 90-day eviction with no reason attached.

And these families become victims of displacement and gentrification without any of the assistance other Bay Area cities provide.

Property owners provide the shelter that we all need, and they are entitled to a reasonable profit.  But we need to recognize how city laws give landlords and their rental incomes preferential treatment.

Their property taxes remain low because of Proposition 13 protections. Their capital gains are deferred for many decades, and their families will inherit these highly appreciated properties with a stepped-up tax basis on capital gains, essentially passing on all capital gains accumulated prior to their death tax free.

The average landlord in San Jose will become a millionaire by owning one property, and the mortgages will be paid by the tenants – the regular, working people of San Jose.  These tenants deserve to be safe and secure in their homes.

We believe that housing is a right and that people are not commodities.

We call on San Jose’s mayor and city council members, the stewards of our city, to bring more balance in our city’s policies.  We call on them to proclaim that we all belong in San Jose, by voting to:

  • Support a full Just Cause eviction policy, protecting us all from arbitrary evictions, and
  • Support the Ellis Act to provide relocation benefits to tenants displaced from rent-controlled units.

We belong in this city, where we study for college, where we raise our children, where we have worked our entire lives and where ethnic diversity was once unrivaled. We should be able to stay. We should be able to thrive in the sanctuary that is our home.

Diana Alvarado Rodriguez represents the PACT Core Housing Team at San Jose State University, Greg Smith represents the team at First Unitarian Church of San Jose and the Rev. Robert Fambrini represents Most Holy Trinity Catholic Church. They wrote this for The Mercury News.