A group of tenants who refused to leave the Redwood City apartment complex they were evicted from have claimed a small victory as the new owner has agreed to provide them with relocation assistance.
The tenants at 910 Clinton St. were supposed to leave their residences by June 30 but will now have until Oct. 12 to move out, said Gabriel Banuelos, the 14-year-old who has become a spokesman for the residents.
Eighteen families were given eviction notices at the end of April but eight of the families refused to leave until ownership was granted a court order to force them out.
Ownership also granted the tenants an additional three months to move out rent free, Banuelos said.
Security deposits will also be returned in full, he said.
The compensation the families will receive will not be disclosed due to a confidentiality agreement, he said.
The tenants were represented by Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County and Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto and were given organizing support by the San Francisco Organizing Project/Peninsula Interfaith Action.
“It wasn’t easy. It shows you have to work as a community to fight for what’s right. If you work together you can accomplish great things,” Banuelos said.
The families held a rally and prayer vigil at the complex Thursday night.
Although Banuelos said the families have received fair compensation, the next obstacle is finding a new home, he said.
San Mateo County has seen rents rise for a one-bedroom apartment by more than 50 percent in the past four years to $2,516 a month, according to the county’s Housing Authority.
Residents were notified by the old owner April 24 that the building had been sold.
The tenants were evicted because the new ownership wants to completely renovate the exterior and interior of the aging building.
The mass eviction is a growing trend that is pushing the working poor out of the area so property owners can maximize their profits, officials with SFOP/PIA said.
The group has been fighting to get local policymakers to enact rent stabilization ordinances and to secure relocation benefits for those evicted.
“Because of the work these families and our community did to denounce what was unjust, and call for what was right, these families have obtained time and relocation assistance — and with it the ability to remain in their community,” said SFOP/PIA’s Aracely Mondragon. “As a faith community, we are encouraged by this and motivated to continue to stand with families and call on our public officials to enact solutions that will afford every member in our community the right to remain.”
Policy reform is still a necessity, however, said Daniel Saver with Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto.
“Our communities need just cause for eviction protections to prevent this sort of displacement from happening in the first place. The relocation assistance that these residents obtained should be available for all renters evicted through no fault of their own,” Saver wrote in an email. “We encourage other residents to follow the lead of the tenants at 910 Clinton to organize and fight these cases as they arise, but it would be much more effective for our city councils to pass appropriate legislation that protects all of our renters.”
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