Building an Information System to Protect Renters from Displacement

Gentrification in Oakland has significantly impacted renters, who comprise 59 percent of households and pay some of the highest rents in the nation. Compounding the issue, a lack of robust data makes it difficult for policymakers to respond to unjust evictions and illegal rent increases. To address this problem, the Department of Housing and Community Development partnered with FUSE Executive Fellow Sonia Punjabi to develop a plan to launch a rent registry that would capture information about tenancies, rents, and rental units across the city. The rent registry, an online database, would allow the city’s rent adjustment program to collect data on rent-stabilized apartments, monitor compliance with city ordinances, monitor changes in tenancy and rents, and track allowable rent increases.

As part of her current state analysis, Sonia conducted research on over 11 cities and counties with rent registries to learn about challenges and best practices in order to incorporate them into Oakland's plan. She engaged with key stakeholders and analyzed the current state of data availability, any legal implications to the rollout of the registry, and communication needs for the Department. Drawing from this research, Sonia put together a comprehensive phased plan, including detailed city ordinance changes for the Department’s leadership that will be presented to the city council and enable the build-out and launch of the registry, which will act as a critical tool to enforce tenant protection laws.

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