For years, EBCOHO members have asked us how they can buy property and create affordable cohousing and cooperative communities here in Berkeley and Oakland.
Well, the time has come --- both cities are considering a new Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA) which will make that more possible than any time in the last 25 years! TOPA means tenants will get notice from landlords before their building goes on the market, and can band together to make an offer, or designate a community partner to negotiate on their behalf -- and then be eligible for public funds.
Berkeley, like the rest of the Bay Area, faces a housing crisis, one driven by rising rental prices and a hot housing market. With 75% of the city’s low-income census tracts at risk of or undergoing displacement and a continued loss of thousands of Black households, Berkeley desperately needs anti-displacement strategies that prioritize low income renters and communities of color. One of those strategies is the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA).
TOPA prevents displacement by empowering tenants with choices for their future housing when the owner of a rental property decides to sell (learn how it works here!). In Washington, DC, TOPA has helped preserve over 3500 units of affordable housing since 2002, and those numbers continue to grow.
Berkeley’s TOPA policy is designed to:
Prevent displacement of low-income communities of color and marginalized tenants
Create permanently affordable housing
Create pathways to ownership for tenants and promote democratic residential control
Stabilize housing for existing tenants
Give tenants choice and voice regarding their housing
Protect rental housing from speculative investment by keeping them in the community
Now is the time for Berkeley to pass a TOPA policy that helps meet Berkeley’s housing crisis and needs.
We can’t do this without you. Raise your voice for TOPA today!
Sign below by Wednesday night and we’ll include your digital signature in our attendance at a council committee meeting discussing TOPA this Thursday. Not sure yet? Want to help recruit others? Join our Zoom call Wednesday at 5:30 PM.
Please support the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA). The time to support TOPA is now. It's been tested in Washington, DC for 40 years, modified for Berkeley's needs and is an important tool in preventing displacement, preserving racial and economic diversity and creating pathways to ownership and long-term neighbor cooperation and resilience.
TOPA can be part of addressing our community's history of exclusionary policy and promoting a Berkeley of opportunity and stability.
As a member of East Bay Cohousing, I believe that TOPA can help make it easier for me to stay in Berkeley and co-create permanently affordable community.
I urge you to vote YES on TOPA and will stand behind you in your support.