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Parent advocates release new report highlighting need for stronger tenant protections in Antioch

Among 1,000 Antioch residents, the survey highlighted endless worries about landlords raising rents, crowding out and livability concerns

Antioch, CA – Advocates held a rally on June 22, 2022 to demand safe and affordable housing and an immediate halt to exorbitant rent increases. low earners at Delta Pines Apartments and Casa Blanca apartmentstwo government-subsidized affordable housing developments, are facing possible eviction after their corporate landlord recently increased monthly rents by as much as $500.

Before the rally, participants gathered in Lowe’s parking lot at nearby 1951 Auto Center Drive, where they marched to the Delta Pines Apartments while holding signs and chanting.

Delta Pines and Case Blanca residents aren’t the only ones facing sudden rent increases. A new survey of Antioch residents released today shows rent increases and housing instability are rampant across the city. 79 percent of renters say they are worried about rent increases, while 68 percent are concerned about being able to pay their current rent.

Local parent advocates with the East County Regional Group (EKRG), sponsored by The first 5 Contra Costaled the community-based survey of more than 1,000 Antioch residents to understand their housing challenges and needs.

The rally was organized by ECRG, First 5 Contra Costa and The Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE). Residents of Delta Pines, Casa Blanca and community members from ECRG shared their first-hand experience of prohibitive rents, fears of eviction and harassment from landlords.

The speakers shared data from the survey showing the need for renter protections for Antioch families. The event is being held in coordination with ACCE’s nationwide day of action to highlight abuses by business owners.

“Housing insecurity is a threat to our basic humanity,” said Rocheall Pierre, an Antioch resident and active member of the ECRG, who will speak at the rally. “Life in Antioch poses a challenge for all parents, regardless of their background or income, to find a safe and dignified place in which to raise their family. I live in a company building and pay $1,800 for a one bedroom apartment for me and my son. After renting, there is not enough left over to cover emergency expenses. I had to take out payday loans, which put me in even more debt. ​​Antioch’s housing system is broken, giving landlords priority over local families.”

The new report “Antioch CHANGE: An Assessment of the Needs, Gaps, and Equity of Community Housing in Antioch, California” is a partnership between ECRG, First 5 Contra Costa, Healthy & Active Before 5 and Urban Habitat. Responses to the survey were collected in 2021, and the process was guided by resident leadership and the principles of community-based participatory research. Although the survey could be completed online, 81 percent of responses were collected in person by ECRG leaders using tablet and paper surveys. Survey advertising included social media, phone banking, door-to-door prospecting and speaking to residents at community events, vaccination centers, laundromats, grocery stores, parks, clinics, churches and local service organizations.

Key findings of the report include:

  • On average, respondents paid 63 percent of their monthly income for rent, leaving little for groceries, medicine, child care and other basic needs.
  • Fifty-one percent of renters said they were concerned about evictions, and 64 percent feared their security deposits would not be returned if they moved.
  • Low-income black residents and families with young children are most affected by housing insecurity, reporting higher rent burdens, fears of eviction and concerns about livability. Among tenants with small children, 83 percent were concerned about rent increases and 75 percent were concerned about being able to pay the rent at all.

“Everyone needs a safe, stable, and healthy place to call home, and that’s especially important for young children,” said Rhea Elina Laughlin, community engagement program officer at First 5 Contra Costa. “The early experiences of young children are critical to their future learning and well-being. These staggering rent increases and the lack of affordable housing in Antioch have only exacerbated the city’s deep-seated racial and economic inequalities, endangering the well-being of our children and the community at large. Local tenant protection measures are urgently needed.”

More than four in five tenants and homeowners surveyed said they would like the City of Antioch to take action to limit annual rent increases, prevent unjustified evictions, provide pathways to home ownership and build more affordable housing. For Antioch residents — particularly low-income families of color struggling with prohibitive rents — housing instability is a daily concern. In addition to rent increases and threats of eviction, families face harassment from landlords and property managers. Without protection, families are forced to make the impossible choice of either living in unlivable conditions or becoming homeless.

The report builds on decades of organizing and advocacy for housing justice and provides policy recommendations for Antioch leaders. Actions called for in the report include:

  • establishment of a rental price brake,
  • requiring a just cause for eviction, and
  • Adoption of nuisance ordinances for tenants.

Supporters of action on the 22nd will demand that Antioch leaders implement these policy recommendations. On June 14, Concord City Council passed a new anti-harassment policy for renters. The directive introduces new protections for renters who face abusive landlords who threaten, harass and intimidate them. Landlords who violate the policy can be fined.

Community members at the rally advocated the inclusion of strong renter protections in the housing element of the city’s master plan. The Housing Element, which is only updated every eight years, outlines how the city will meet its housing goals and provides an opportunity to address past injustices.

The full Antioch CHANGE: A Community Housing Assessment of Needs, Gaps and Equity in Antioch, California report will be available here on June 22 at 9:00 a.m

About East County Regional Group:

The East County Regional Group is a voluntary parent advocacy group dedicated to making East Contra Costa healthier, safer, and more equitable for young children and families. The ECRG is sponsored by First 5 Contra Costa’s Community Engagement and Advocacy Program.

About First 5 Contra Costa:

First 5 Contra Costa helps young children start school healthy, nourished and ready to learn by investing in programs and activities that focus on children during their first five years – the most important time in child development.

About the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) Action:

The Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) Action is a grassroots, member-led, statewide community organization serving more than 16,000 members across California. ACCE is dedicated to raising the voices of California’s citizens, neighborhood by neighborhood, to fight for the policies and programs we need to improve our communities and create a better future.

About Healthy & Active before 5 (HAB45):

Healthy & Active Before 5 (HAB45) is a Contra Costa collaboration advancing health equity through local policy and environmental changes to support the health and well-being of young children and their families. HAB45 provides technical support and data support to the regional groups.

About Urban Habitat:

Urban Habitat (UH) works to democratize power and advance equitable politics to create a just and connected Bay Area for low-income communities of color. Through strategic partnerships, UH supports increased power and capacity in low-income communities and communities of color.