A history lesson: Tenants V. Alameda, Rasheed El Shabazz

If you are looking to gain a better understanding of the history of affordable housing in Alameda, this is for you. This historical report on the history of affordable housing in Alameda was put together by UC Berkeley graduate, Alamedan, and esteemed scholar Rasheed El Shabazz.

In 1987, African American tenants of the Buena Vista Apartments in Alameda, California, sued the City of Alameda for discriminatory housing policies. The lawsuit occurred after the owner of the largest subsidized housing complex in the East Bay decided to convert the property to market rate rents. The plans to double and even triple rents would displace hundreds of families.

After pleading with City government and the owner, Section 8 vouchers were acquired for many residents–all but 325. These ‘lost’ affordable housing units led to the lawsuit challenging Measure A, a 1973 citizen-enacted ordinance that banned construction of apartments. After a judge ruled Alameda’s land use policies discriminated against the poor, the City settled to protect its treasured exclusionary zoning policy. Part of the settlement called for replacement of the lost 325 affordable housing units.

I conducted primary research on the Guyton case in 2011 for a political science course on the American Legal System my first semester at Cal. This year, two years later, I presented my research at the UC Berkeley Legal Studies Conference.

Rasheed El Shabazz, “Tenants vs. Alameda: How Long Income Tenants Challenged Discriminatory Housing Policies in Alameda, California,” <http://tenantsvsalameda.blogspot.com/> May 2011.

More of his research on Alameda can be found here.

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