500 very low income tenants face eviction from Oakland’s California Hotel

Tenants of the California Hotel in Oakland announce the filing of a lawsuit against the landlord for roach and rat infestations.

by Lynda Carson

Oakland – Tuesday on KPFA evening news, local attorney John Murcko announced that he plans to file a lawsuit next week in Alameda County Superior Court against Oakland Community Housing, Inc. (OCHI), an Oakland nonprofit housing developer, because they are breaking a 30-year requirement to provide housing to 500 very low-income Oakland residents at the California Hotel.

OCHI recently served eviction notices to all 500 residents of the California Hotel, demanding that they relocate out of the hotel by July 15.

According to attorney John Murcko, the owners of the hotel are claiming that they ran out of money and can no longer operate the hotel properly. This despite the fact that OCHI has been receiving massive amounts of funding from local and state governments to acquire and maintain the California Hotel with low-cost loans that stipulate that OCHI must provide housing to low-income tenants for a 30-year period in order to even receive the loans.

The California Hotel and OCHI was sued by 43 tenants back in August of 2005 for negligence that resulted in rats, bedbugs and roach infestations throughout the hotel. Since then, the hotel and OCHI have been sued one more time for failing to operate the hotel properly after ordered to do so by the courts, and this will be the third lawsuit filed since August of 2005.

Murcko is sending a letter to Congresswoman Barbara Lee to seek more funding for the hotel in an attempt to help the residents remain in their homes.

“Oakland Housing Authority is planning to sell off or demolish most of its public housing in the near future.”

Murcko also accused the City of Oakland as being complicit with OCHI in the attempt to evict and displace the 500 current residents of the hotel, because Oakland is offering some funding to OCHI to be used as a relocation funding package to force the renters from the hotel.

Murcko is demanding that OCHI sell some of their properties to come up with the money needed to operate the California Hotel properly.

On KPFA this evening, I was quoted as saying something to the effect that, “I am not surprised that KPFA cannot find anyone from the city to comment on the 500 residents facing eviction from the California Hotel. The nonprofits are protected in Oakland, with council members being involved in pet projects with them and some nonprofit housing organizations are involved in projects that actually displace the poor in the name of creating so-called affording housing.”

I went on to mention how the Oakland Housing Authority is planning to sell off or demolish most of its public housing in the near future, and how nonprofits have been involved in mixed income housing developments at public housing sites that have displaced poor public housing tenants in Oakland.

Lynda Carson may be reached at tenantsrule@yahoo.com or (510) 763-1085.