Moms 4 Housing inspires bill that offers tenant protections

The Oakland City Council is considering new legislation that would give tenants the first right to purchase their home if it's put up for sale. 

Councilmember Nikki Fortunado Bas is behind the "Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act," a first of its kind legislation in California. 

The bill is modeled after a law in Washington D.C. that's been in effect for the past 20 years. It's aimed at keeping marginalized and working-class families in Oakland. 

TOPA  would also create opportunities for community land trusts and nonprofit affordable housing developers to purchase homes first. 

Bass said she was inspired by a collective of homeless women called "Moms 4 Housing," who occupied a vacant home in West Oakland and brought the Bay Area's housing crisis into the national spotlight. 

Bas said on the steps of City Hall on Thursday, "When when we look around Oakland and see how our community is changing, we see how more people are pushed onto the streets, more families are living in their vehicles, this is going to make sure that we stem the displacement. That we address homelessness.

Dominique Walker, one of the members of Moms 4 Housing, vowed to continue the fight for unsheltered people.

"It won't help situations like ours where we occupied the house, but it will help the community," she said. "We are committed to ending homelessness. This is the first step in the right direction." 

Bass said the proposed ordinance is modeled after a similar act in the nation's capital that's preserved 1,400 homes over the last decade. 

In Oakland, tenants would have more time to match an offer if the landlord got a higher bid, but the legislation is still in its early stages. 

The legislation was introduced to the Rules and Legislation Committee on Thursday morning and is set to be heard on Feb. 25 by the Community Economic Development Committee.