(BCN) — A group of tenants who have been displaced for more than half a year from an East Oakland apartment complex protested at their landlord’s Oakland home on Sunday morning. Tenants at Oakland’s Coliseum Connections apartment building were displaced after a flood on New Year’s Eve rendered it uninhabitable.
Damage from the flood occurred mainly in the garage area, but the building also sustained damage to the electrical system. Tenants have been shuffled from hotel to hotel, with some families sharing one room without a kitchen, according to a press release from the Coliseum Connections Tenant Association, which works alongside the local tenants union Tenant and Neighborhood Councils. About two-thirds of the apartments’ households have children.
“We are not staying in hotel rooms for pleasure,” said Faviola Abendano, a Coliseum Connections tenant in the press release. “There’s only so much a 9-5 job can cover.”
The association is calling upon the CEO of UrbanCore Development LLC, which owns Coliseum Connections, Michael Johnson, who they allege is responsible for the extended displacement. According to a City of Oakland press release from April 2019, Johnson received over $24 million in public funds to build the Coliseum Connections apartment building.
Alameda County and the City of Oakland have spent more than $4 million to repair the building so far. In a letter delivered to Johnson in June, tenants outlined his alleged negligence as well as their demands.
They asked for a 60-day displaced fund for both affordable and market-rate tenants in the Coliseum Connection building, per Oakland Municipal Code 15.60, which states that an owner must provide relocation payments and assistance for tenants who are displaced due to compliance with building, housing and fire codes.
Half of the units at the apartment building located near the Coliseum BART station pay market rate for their units while the other half pay below market rate. Tenants also demanded that timelines for relocation be extended, as the current practice of offering 21 days to residents is “too short of a timeline and is causing stress,” the letter read.
Instead, they asked for Johnson to provide a relocation plan that offers at least two months for tenants to decide and more overall support for moving. Transparency about the work being done on the Coliseum Connections building is another one of the tenants’ demands.
Johnson, the association alleged, recently pushed back the time for completed repairs until August or September. Tenants also visited Johnson’s house on June 18 to hand deliver their letter, which they recorded and posted at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=axjYBc-iuxs.
The association asked for a response from Johnson by June 30, and although he acknowledged receiving the letter, he has not yet answered. Johnson did not respond to request for comment on Monday.
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