Antioch residents rally for safe and affordable housing in response to rent hikes

Residents and activists participated in the rally for affordable housing in Antioch on Wednesday, June 22, 2022. Photos courtesy of ECRG

Parent advocates release new report highlighting need for stronger protections for tenants in Antioch

Survey of 1,000 residents shows ongoing worries about landlords raising rents, travel and livability issues

Lawyers and residents of Antioch held a rally on Wednesday, June 22, 2022 to demand safe and affordable housing and an immediate halt to exorbitant rent increases. Low-income tenants at Delta Pines Apartments and Casa Blanca Apartmentstwo government-subsidized affordable housing buildings are facing potential relocation after their corporate landlord recently raised monthly rents by as much as $500.

Prior to the rally, attendees gathered in the nearby Lowe’s parking lot, then marched toward the apartment complex while holding up signs and chanting.

Antioch resident Rocheall Pierre speaks at the housing rally on Wednesday.

Residents of Delta Pines on Sycamore reader and the Blanca case on Court Claudia near L Street, aren’t the only ones facing sudden rent increases. A new survey of Antioch residents released today finds that rent hikes and housing instability are widespread across the city. Seventy-nine percent of tenants say they worry about rent increases, while 68% worry about being able to pay their current rent. Local parents defend the interests of East County Regional Group (ECRG), sponsored by First 5 Contra Costa, conducted the community survey with more than 1,000 residents of Antioch to understand their housing challenges and needs.

The rally was organized by the ECRG, The first 5 Contra Costa, and The Californians Alliance for Community Empowerment (ACCE). Residents of Delta Pines, Casa Blanca and ECRG community members spoke at the rally about their first-hand experiences with unaffordable rent, fears of eviction and harassment from landlords. Speakers also shared survey data showing the need for tenant protection for families in Antioch. Community members were joined by District 1 Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker. The event was in coordination with ACCE’s statewide day of action to highlight abuses by business owners.

“Housing insecurity is a threat to our basic humanity,” said Rocheall Pierre, a resident of Antioch and an active ECRG member who will speak at the rally. “Living in Antioch challenges every parent, no matter where they are from or what their income, to find a safe and dignified place to raise their family. I live in a corporate owned building and am paying $1800 for a one bedroom apartment for me and my son. After the rent, there is not enough left to cover emergency expenses. I had to take out payday loans, which put me in more debt. Antioch’s housing system is broken and prioritizes landlords over local families. »

Rreport of the survey of 1,000 residents of Antioch

A lady named Silvia signs a petition at the housing rally.

The new report “Antioch CHANGE: A Community Housing Assessment of Needs, Gaps, and Equity in Antioch, California” is a partnership between the ECRG, First 5 Contra Costa, Healthy & Active Before 5 and Urban Habitat. Survey responses were collected in 2021, and the process was guided by resident leadership and community-based participatory research principles. Although the survey can be completed online, 81% of responses were collected individually by ECRG leaders using tablets and paper surveys. Promotion of the survey included social media, telephone banking, door-to-door and talking to residents at community events, vaccination sites, laundromats, grocery stores, parks, local clinics, churches and service organizations.

Key findings of the report include:

  • On average, respondents paid 63% of their monthly income in rent, leaving little for food, medicine, childcare and other basic necessities.
  • Fifty-one percent of tenants said they were worried about eviction and 64 percent were worried their deposits wouldn’t be returned when they moved out.
  • Low-income residents of color and families with young children are the most housing insecure, reporting a higher rent burden, fears of displacement and livability issues. Among tenants with young children, 83% worried about rent increases and 75% worried about not being able to pay the rent.

“Everyone needs a safe, stable and healthy place to call home, and this is especially important for young children,” said Rhea Elina Laughlin, community engagement program manager at First 5 Contra Costa. “The early experiences of young children are critical to their future learning and well-being. These egregious rent hikes and the lack of affordable housing in Antioch have only deepened the city’s deep-rooted racial and economic inequalities and put the well-being of our children and the community as a whole at risk. Local tenant protection policies are urgently needed.

More than four in five tenants and landlords surveyed said they want the city of Antioch to take action to limit annual rent increases, prevent unfair evictions, create pathways to home ownership and build housing more affordable. For residents of Antioch, especially low-income families of color struggling with unaffordable rents, housing instability is a daily concern. In addition to rent increases and threats of eviction, families are harassed by landlords and property managers. Without protections, families are forced to make the impossible choice of living in uninhabitable conditions or becoming homeless.

Drawing on decades of resident organizing and advocacy for housing justice, the report includes policy recommendations for leaders in Antioch. Policies advocated in the report include:

  • Implementation of rent control,
  • Require just cause for eviction, and
  • Enact tenant anti-harassment ordinances.

Supporters of the 22nd action will demand that the leaders of the city of Antioch adopt these policy recommendations. On June 14, Concord City Council passed a new anti-harassment policy for tenants. The policy puts in place new protections for tenants facing abusive landlords who threaten, harass and intimidate them. Owners who violate the policy may be fined.

Community members present at the rally also speak out in favor of including strong tenant protections in the housing component of the city’s overall plan. The Housing Element, which is only updated once every eight years, describes how the city will achieve its housing goals and provides an opportunity to address past inequities.

The full report “Antioch CHANGE: A Community Housing Assessment of Needs, Gaps and Equity in Antioch, California” will be available here.

About the East County Regional Group:

East County Regional Group is a volunteer parent advocacy group working to make East Contra Costa healthier, safer and fairer for young children and families. The ECRG is sponsored by the First 5 Contra Costa Community Engagement and Advocacy Program.

About First 5 Contra Costa:

First 5 Contra Costa helps young children start school healthy, nourished and ready to learn by investing in child-centered programs and activities during their first five years, the most important period of child development. children.

About the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) Stock:

The Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) Action is a grassroots, member-driven, statewide community organization that works with more than 16,000 members across California. ACCE is dedicated to raising the voices of everyday Californians, neighborhood by neighborhood, to fight for the policies and programs we need to improve our communities and create a better future.

About Healthy & Active Before 5 (HAB45):

Healthy & Active Before 5 (HAB45) is a Contra Costa collaboration that advances health equity through local policy and environmental change to support the health and well-being of young children and their families. HAB45 provides regional groups with technical assistance and data support.

About Urban Habitat:

Urban Habitat (UH) works to democratize power and advance equitable policies to create a just and connected Bay Area for low-income communities of color. Through strategic partnerships, UH supports the increased power and capacity of low-income communities and communities of color.

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