By Christin Ayers

OAKLAND (KPIX 5) — Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf announced Wednesday she’s creating a special cabinet to look at housing and affordability.

The cabinet would help people like Mustafa Solomon, who lost his home three months ago.

“Right now me and my daughter have no place to go that’s permanent,” he said.

He’s lived in Oakland for 33 years but he says his landlord wanted him out to bring in a tenant who would pay the market rate. Now, Solomon says he can no longer afford to rent in Oakland.

“That’s what we need,” Solomon said. “Affordable housing here in Oakland.”

It’s a story that Oakland Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan has heard countless times.

“There are tenants who are losing their homes for reasons that are actually illegal,” Kaplan said.

Oakland is leading the nation in job growth, but is lagging in housing.

The city has a plan called the Housing Equity Roadmap. It was at the center of Wednesday night’s special meeting on affordable housing.

The plan would build more housing using money from developer fees and require new developers to contribute to affordable housing. It would also look into making use of public lands and vacant lots, but opponents say it does not do enough.

“Following the same script that San Francisco tried decades ago is probably not the right solution,” said attorney Robert Selna.

Critics say Oakland should do what Baltimore and Jersey City have done: help transfer vacant properties with tax liens to developers who could build affordable housing on them.

It’s a strategy that is mentioned in the plan.

Kaplan says she intends to take action, but first she wants to fix Oakland’s relocation assistance program and quickly house those facing homelessness.

“We need to enforce the laws we have so that existing renters are not displaced en masse,” Kaplan said.

Christin Ayers

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