Blogging Bayport Alameda

September 16, 2020

Ownership gap

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:06 am

At one point in the Chamber of Commerce event a factoid was thrown out into the ring and led to absolutely no reaction from the other side. That piece of information? That of Alameda’s Black population only 7% of that population were homeowners. To that charge, opponents to Measure Z had nothing meaningful to rebut that information. However, I’m sure that there was some busy Googling that night or yesterday to try to prove or disprove that information.

That information came from the National Equity Atlas for a project about renters. Here’s the Alameda data:

There were only a handful of cities that this data was pulled for and it is a really good benchmark for where Alameda is when it comes to homeownership. As you can see 93% of Black households in Alameda are renters. Only 7% of the Black Alameda households own their homes. That is shocking but not surprising.

To compare, the Urban Institute pulled data of Black household home ownership numbers for the San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward metro area and that percentage is 31.2%. There is a massive gap between Alameda’s Black household home ownership numbers and the metro area in which it sits.

But, as I mentioned the National Equity Atlas selected a few cities to provide this breakdown of race to home ownership numbers and in every comparison Alameda does the worst when it comes to providing home ownership opportunities for Black households.

Santa Barbara: 19% Black homeowners, Alameda: 7% Black homeowners, gap: 12%.

Santa Rosa: 33% Black homeowners, Alameda: 7% Black homeowners, gap: 26%.

Brooklyn, NY: 25% Black homeowners, Alameda: 7% Black homeowners, gap: 18%.

Lynn, MA: 30% Black homeowners, Alameda: 7% Black homeowners, gap: 23%.

Providence: 32% Black homeowners, Alameda: 7% Black homeowners, gap: 25%.

While A/26 may not be fully to blame for the low number of Black households owning homes in Alameda, it certainly didn’t help. We all know that home ownership is important to building inter-generational wealth and the United States has had a legacy of official policies which has made home ownership near impossible for Black families for decades. Locally we have a policy which is built on that legacy of exclusion. It’s time that we correct the mistakes of the past.


  1. I am sure the opponents of Measure Z will struggle to explain this statistic. Of all the stats that have been floated around to illustrate the inequities, that is possibly the most stunning, especially when compared to many other cities. Like Santa Barbara, really? It should be much easier to buy a house in Alameda than in Santa Barbara…yet….

    Comment by Laura Thomas — September 16, 2020 @ 8:19 am

  2. Nice charts. Here’s a big reason-the sub prime mortgage crisis and the lack of an adequate government response.

    “By the end of Mr. Obama’s first term, 95 percent of the financial gains of his economic recovery plan had gone to the richest 1 percent of the country.”

    “The Obama administration presided over the greatest reduction of Black wealth in history. 20 million people were forced to uproot their lives and find shelter. This had a particularly gruesome effect on people of color, who stored more of their wealth in home equity and were targeted for subprime loans. Former Representative Brad Miller calls the crisis “an extinction event” for the black and Latino middle class.”

    Wasn’t Joe Biden part of that administration?

    Comment by Nowyouknow — September 16, 2020 @ 8:40 am

    • That… Doesn’t explain anything. At all. You’re talking about a national policy specifically impacting Alameda (7% African-American homeownership rate) over its regional Bay Area neighbors (32%).

      You should just change your name from Nowyouknow to Whataboutism, because we’re not really “knowing anything” from you – from you, it’s just another day of deflections.

      Comment by JRB — September 16, 2020 @ 9:22 am

    • Trump is a piece of shit. And he’s going to get his sorry lying ass handed to him real soon when we vote him out of office.

      Comment by john doe — September 16, 2020 @ 2:46 pm

  3. These numbers are shocking and very hard for anyone to rebut. This needs to be shared far and wide.

    Comment by JRB — September 16, 2020 @ 9:23 am

    • Those numbers are hard to refute because there’s no context given for them. They ignore the number and percentage of Blacks in the community and the role they play in public life and business in those communities. Mark Twain has been credited, possibly incorrectly, with the statement that “There are three types of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” In addition, consider that even if those numbers are correct and have real significance, they are irrelevant to Measure Z since the Measure will do absolutely nothing, nothing at all, to change those numbers for Alameda as the Measure is about building apartments, not homes for people to own, let alone low income people. the argument that Measure Z, if passed will increase the percent of low income people, and especially Blacks, owning homes in Alameda is factually incorrect. You need look no further than the fact that with the exception of the 25% requirement at the Point, builders in Alameda are required to provide no more than 15% of their project as affordable units. In other words, if the City gains 100 additional units, only 15 can be expected to be “affordable”. And although this may come as a surprise to some, not all low income people are Black.

      Comment by AnothersonofDavid — September 17, 2020 @ 3:06 pm

  4. There must be something wrong with your numbers. Tony will explain it to us, I’m sure.

    Comment by Ron Mooney — September 16, 2020 @ 10:17 am

  5. For the most part, the Z campaign has been careful not to offer Z as a cure-all for low relative levels of Black homeownership in Alameda. That would be a hard case to make. Maybe, even if not a cure-all, Z, by itself, would have very significant effects in that specific regard. If not, what other policy changes at the city-level (or perhaps also at higher levels of government), together with Z, would be achievable, expedient, and effective in addressing this issue?

    Comment by MP — September 16, 2020 @ 10:33 am

    • For affordable housing for sale units, I think the City need to examine the feasibility of giving bonus points for Black households. Right now we give a bonus point to folks who already live in Alameda and (I think) a bonus point for working in Alameda.

      Alameda’s numbers are abysmal and not even within the range of the regional homeownership for Black households, we have to do better.

      Comment by Lauren Do — September 16, 2020 @ 11:20 am

      • Do you have any links to discussions/literature about that type of approach, including examples of where it may have been implemented and/or legal/constitutional issues, if any, that may be implicated? (no rush – thank you!)

        Comment by MP — September 16, 2020 @ 11:30 am

        • A quick Google shows that San Francisco has a “Certificate of Preference” and uses displacement by the Housing Authority in the 1960s – 1970s (think Hunters Point and Western Addition) as a measure. Alameda’s Housing Authority displaced a number of families from Estuary Housing, sorta kinda promising that they would help find alternative housing but not really making good on that promise. There are lots of news article about this. It’s something that (1) the City should have documentation of the displaced families and (2) would target former Black households from Alameda to provide a level of reparations.

          Comment by Lauren Do — September 16, 2020 @ 11:49 am

        • In other words, the (2008) rules of the SF program do not make reference to race (and maybe for legal reasons very intentionally avoids doing so), but the geographic areas of displacement (i.e. the place were the applicant must have formerly lived and that was subject to previous city action) covered by the program are limited to areas of San Francisco that are (and used to be more so) with the highest percentages of Black residents.

          Click to access Certificate%20of%20Preference%20Program%20Rules.pdf

          Comment by MP — September 16, 2020 @ 12:45 pm

        • — whoops! didn’t know it would show the whole document like that

          Comment by MP — September 16, 2020 @ 12:46 pm

        • That’s pretty cool that the document linked like that. That’s why I wrote “examine the feasibility” because it would be difficult to make a race based preference. But I like what SF did here because it attempts to correct the errors of the past which disproportionately affected Black families.

          Comment by Lauren Do — September 16, 2020 @ 1:29 pm

        • It is pretty cool – but unintentional. All I was trying to do was paste link to that document found within the link you provided above.

          Comment by MP — September 16, 2020 @ 1:39 pm

    • The Z campaign hasn’t mentioned anything positive regarding race, let alone claimed it to be a “cure all” primarily because the the reality is that passage of Z will have virtually no beneficial effect at all with regard to increasing the level of home ownership by Blacks in Alameda. Measure Z is about creating jobs in the housing industry with as few affordable apartment units included as possible, just as a sweetener. Just look at what’s been taking place here already. Measure Z is not about home ownership as the “homes” being built are apartments, not homes that people can own, let alone what low income people can own. The only reason race is even mentioned in regard to Z is that it diverts attention (read gaslighting) from the real issue of overcrowding, increasing congestion, and decreasing safety, the latter in terms traffic fatalities and responding to personal health emergencies and to major disasters. The politicians and housing advocates promoting Measure Z ignore the inescapable negative impact that it will have on the City’s already long suffering and inadequate infrastructure, if passed. Measure Z is a political move without benefit to anyone except for those politicians and business interests who are promoting and bankrolling the Z campaign. And well meaning people advocating passage are basing their support on their personal ideas of what would constitute a more perfect world for everyone. Just consider this: Virtually every argument in favor of Z is a statement expressing idealistic personal preferences, opinions and unfounded hypotheticals. Contrast these with the factual arguments presented by the opponents of the Measure. Ideals vs. reality.

      The proponents of Measure Z apparently ascribe to the notion that if they repeat their ideals and hypotheticals often enough, people will start to believe them to be facts. Know anyone on the National political scene who relies on this strategy?

      Comment by AnothersonofDavid — September 17, 2020 @ 2:32 pm

  6. I have friends who I went to school with that had to leave Alameda even though thier parents wanted to buy here, and were qualified. Their parents have passed on and they are my age now so its to late for them, they lived in Estuary housing. But its not to late for the folks who got ousted from the B.V.’s and other units. Alameda needs to do the right thing.

    Comment by trumpisaracist — September 16, 2020 @ 2:09 pm

    • I did not hear any reference in the debate to the percentage of blacks who own homes in Alameda. What I heard was that blacks constitute about 7% of our community. However, I accept your research as accurate. The cause of this is the lack of affordable housing:

      Since 1969 California Law has required Alameda to identify sufficient parcels for new housing development at all income levels. However, there was no State enforcement of the law. Alameda avoided complying with the law until 2012 when they were confronted with a threat of litigation, preceded by a very damaging lawsuit against Pleasanton. Surely City compliance with state law over 40 years earlier would have given us much more affordable housing which would have resulted in a greater percentage of black home ownership. Therefore, it could be argued that Art. 26 inhibited new housing until 2012. However, the basis the City used to come into compliance-that State law pre-empts Art.26 is something I learned in law school in 1961, so it was available to the City at the 1973 inception of Art. 26.

      The 3800 new units constructed or in process via our current housing element will add a lot of new housing. Unfortunately, only 572 of that number are affordable due to a State funding dysfunction. In 2011 the State abandoned the funding of affordable housing which was being provided at a level of 2.4 billion/year and instead now relies primarily on private funding by market rate developers. In Alameda, if they offer 16 affordable out a 100 unit project, they get a 20% market rate add-on, resulting in 120 units with 16 affordable, only a 13% return. Our State housing agency correctly projects that we need 60% of all new housing to be affordable to lower income residents. The affordable issue will persist and worsen until the State supplements the current funding with public funding.

      My conclusion from all of this is 1) Article 26 did negatively impact the construction of affordable housing in Alameda from 1973 to 2012; 2) This impact could have been completely negated by the City doing in 1973 what it finally did in 2012-apply a clear, unequivocal, and basic legal maxim that State law pre-empts local law, thus allowing full compliance with the State Housing Element law from its inception in1969; and 3) Now that Alameda is compliant, Art. 26 should not be made the scape-goat for the State’s failure to fund affordable housing.

      Comment by Paul Foreman — September 16, 2020 @ 3:55 pm

      • I think the statistic is that 7% of Black households (or head of household?) in Alameda are in owner-occupied units. I think Black residents are also about 6-7% of the overall Alameda pop.

        Comment by MP — September 16, 2020 @ 6:47 pm

      • But hang on, the Measure A crowd, benevolent to all, would surely have wanted to encourage diversity this way back in 1973. I’m puzzled. We’ve been told they weren’t racist.

        Comment by BC — September 17, 2020 @ 10:38 am

  7. So how does the redlining legacy play into this?

    Comment by michonnekatana — September 16, 2020 @ 11:17 pm

  8. I am both glad and sad that we are still talking about this since you wrote this article in 2007 — maybe finally we will remove this law this fall:

    Comment by Kevis Brownson — September 17, 2020 @ 7:12 pm

    • Lois Pryor is a gem and I am so appreciative of her keeping of the history so that we, today, can understand the full extent and impact of A/26.

      Comment by Lauren Do — September 18, 2020 @ 6:54 am

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