After more than three years of fighting for his East Oakland home, Rafael Luna is exhausted.
Campaigning against rent hikes that could have priced them out of their apartment building, Luna and his neighbors passed out fliers at the building owner’s office, protested outside the owner’s mother’s house and even had two run-ins with the police. This month, the tenants finally are celebrating a major milestone — a local community land trust bought the building and will convert it into affordable housing.
But he says it’s a bittersweet victory and one that opens another chapter of waiting and uncertainty.
“I don’t know if it’s worth staying here,” said Luna, a 49-year-old electrician. “It’s so much stress.”
Community land trusts – nonprofits that buy market-rate properties and then rent or sell them back to residents as permanently affordable housing – are sweeping the Bay Area, promising a new solution to the region’s low-income housing shortage. New land trusts recently formed in San Jose and on the Peninsula, and Oakland, Berkeley and San Jose are considering ordinances that could make it easier for the groups to snap up homes.
The idea is for tenants living on land trust properties to ultimately buy their homes – giving them a chance to build equity that they’d never be able to afford on the open market.
But Luna’s disillusionment highlights the stark reality these organizations are up against as they compete with wealthy buyers and…