San Jose passed anti-displacement tenant protections

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The San Jose City Council this week unanimously approved a new “tenant preference” policy meant to keep low-income tenants at risk of displacement in the city.

Under the law, 20% of affordable apartments in new city-funded properties will be reserved for lower-income applicants living in “high-displacement” areas. Additionally, 15% of affordable apartments will be set aside for lower-income applicants living within the same City Council district as the available affordable housing units.

The policy is a long time coming — the idea was originally proposed by City Council members in 2017 at the urging of community organizations like Amigos de Guadalupe and SOMOS Mayfair, but it required a change in state law, which was not passed until 2022.

“In recent years, the housing costs have skyrocketed in San Jose, forcing many people to move out of their home,” said Councilmember Peter Ortiz, who represents District 5. “As we face limited stock of affordable housing units, it’s frustrating to see that even those that do exist have not prioritized local families. That’s why tenant preference is a critical step in the right direction.”

“We’re losing our identity and we’re losing our culture,” said District 3 Councilmember Omar Torres. The anti-displacement policy will help to keep the working families who built San Jose in the city, he added.

Other Bay Area cities, including Oakland and San Francisco, have also adopted policies setting aside a portion of affordable housing for their own residents — but San Jose is the first city to propose a policy focused on protecting residents specifically from high-displacement neighborhoods.

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