Housing Counseling Prevents Oakland Family from Becoming Homeless.


Zane’s Story

Zane Burton came into the Causa Justa::Just Cause Oakland Housing Rights Clinic with a 10-day eviction notice from his current landlord, Andrew Cuikshank. Years before and under a different landlord, his wife and granddaughter moved into the unit with him. When Zane notified the previous landlord, he gave Zane his permission but failed to change the original lease, which listed Zane as the only occupant.

Cruikshank served Zane with an eviction notice and told him that he could either leave the unit with this family, or remain in the apartment but put out his wife and granddaughter, or pay an extra $900 a month on his rent-controlled unit so that his wife could stay. Cruikshank even wrote on the notice: "if you comply, your rent will not change.” He clearly regretted making such an obvious threat because several days after serving this notice, the landlord asked for Zane to give it back to him.  

Zane worked with Clinic staff to understand his rights and compose a letter to Cruikshank. His letter affirmed that he had taken all the right steps by informing his former landlord when his family moved in with him. We also identified a long list of repair requests that had not been resolved and included a paragraph about the Tenant Protection Ordinance. 

After his counseling session, Zane was excited to join CJJC as a member. He even attended a hearing regarding tenant rights at City Hall that same night.  Zane was one of the first people to speak and definitely got the attention of some City Hall staff, who promised to "look into it" and see if they could help with his case.  

The day after the landlord received Zane’s letter, he gave written notice that he would rescind the prior notice of eviction, make all needed repairs on the unit, and agreed to let Zane’s family stay in their home with no increase in rent. When we fight, we win!

How can the Oakland City Council, in the process of crafting its new budget, help people like Zane and his family, and prevent Oakland from becoming a national epi-center for the new homeless crisis?

The City of Oakland has $5 million from housing boomerang funds used to build affordable housing that can be used instead for anti-displacement.  Through new housing bond measures and a new housing impact fee, the City will have over $200 million in other funds for affordable housing development.  But it will take three to five years to build new units.  Meanwhile, people are losing their homes every day and ending up homeless.

Research and the City’s own prior experience show that funding a continuum of care--housing counseling, legal services, and emergency housing funds for low-income tenants and homeowners—works. 

With a thousand and one pulls on the Oakland Mayor and City Council’s attention, we need concerned residents to call the Oakland Mayor and Councilmembers before the June 12th special Council budget meeting.  Ask them to take action and fund proven anti-displacement strategies and prevent homelessness.

As the old adage goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. 


The Dellums Institute for Social Justice