OAKLAND (KPIX 5) — In a single-room-occupancy residential building near Oakland’s Chinatown, 82-year-old Kuang Pu showed this reporter his toilet. It was a small, black bucket.
“There’s a line to the bathroom and I can’t hold,” Pu said. “I have to use this container. It’s not just me — almost all the families have one.”
Of the 36 units in Pu’s apartment building, 28 don’t have bathrooms. Tenants in those units are now forced to share toilets. The building’s owner gutted the other bathrooms, along with a kitchen, back in February.
Most of the renters are low-income Chinese immigrants who speak little English. They pay $300 to $400 per month for a small room.
Tenants say that after the new owner purchased the building last year, he has been harrassing them, trying to get them to move out and they suspect he wants to rent the building to high-paid tech workers.
A judge visited the building last week and saw the problems first-hand. He said the situation is unacceptable and this week, he ordered the landlord – James Kilpatrick with Lakeside Investment Company – to repair all the bathrooms and kitchen by Oct. 7.
Kuang Pu attended the court hearing.
“I think the judge is very reasonable, OK?” Pu said. “(I’m) very happy, I agree!”
“While we’re glad and overall relieved, there’s still quite a long way to go but we’re very proud of the tenants for standing up to the landlord this way,” said Katherine Chu, an attorney with the Asian Law Caucus.
The judge also ordered the landlord to take down some of the surveillance cameras in the building, including one that was installed in the kitchen.