Following last year’s tenant’s convention, housing and tenant rights group Jobs with Justice Coalition has been organizing educational sessions and workshops to train unionized workers and leaders on dealing with the housing crisis in the Bay Area. Moses Corrette, President & Delegate of the Planners and Environmental Specialists of Local 21, is a City Planner for the City and County of San Francisco, but in his spare time, he is involved in the Housing Committee at Jobs with Justice. Moses sat with the Local 21 Express to discuss the housing struggle in the Bay Area, including the work Jobs with Justice is doing to raise awareness about housing legislation reform.
“There are two laws standing in the way of real housing reform,” Moses said, citing the Ellis Act and Costa Hawkins Acts, two state-wide laws that favor the landlord over the tenant. “Those are state level laws that affect how municipalities can regulate rent control and keep senior citizens in their houses.”
The Ellis Act paves the way for owner move-ins and evictions, and the Costa Hawkins Act prohibit Oakland and other California cities from establishing rent control on buildings constructed after 1983.
Despite the existence of these kinds of laws which favor the owner over the tenant, Moses described the work that Jobs with Justice does to raise awareness about housing legislation and tenants rights, including what he calls a “multi-pronged approach” that brings the coalition and its partners together to craft a series of educational sessions, “some of which are aimed specifically to unions.” The idea, he explained is to train union employees and union leaders to be housing resources at their work sites throughout the Bay Area, both in terms of renters and in terms of homeowners that might be underwater with mortgages.
Moses stressed the importance of Local 21 of staying politically involved in the housing issue through its Political Action Committee, as well as actively supporting candidates and weighing in on ballot measures. However, he is concerned about the loss of the political power base in San Francisco as city workers are pushed out by the very city they serve.
“If members live far away, in places like Gilroy, for example, they are not going to be as engaged nor will they have the time to get involved,” Moses said. He stressed the importance of the San Francisco chapters fighting to keep their members in San Francisco.
Moses’ struggle is also personal. A 15-year resident of the Corona Heights neighborhood, he reported that he and his husband, who like himself has a full-time job with excellent benefits, are soon to be forced out of their single-family home by an owner move-in, which was originally purchased by the landlord as a retirement home for her aging parents. Now, the parents have retired, and the couple must leave. While stating that his landlord is kind and that the move-in is in no way malicious, Moses admits that it comes at an inopportune time in a city where rents have skyrocketed. “Even on the friendliest of terms it’s still a time where the housing crisis is quite real and it will be a challenge for us to stay in the city even with two decent incomes,” he said.
See our Housing Resource Guide for more information.