Oakland Tenants Blockade Investors

OAKLAND, Calif.—Rent-striking tenants in Oakland blocked investors from touring their building and apartments July 9, claiming it would endanger elderly residents and was part of a campaign by their landlord, Mosser Capital, to push them out.

“My neighbors in this building are of the few remaining Black residents in a violently gentrifying Oakland,” Sabeena Shah, a special-education teacher who has lived in the building since 2012, said in a statement released by the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment and the Black Housing Union. “We’re not willing to be exposed to the coronavirus for Mosser to turn a profit when they have already conned the federal government into giving them a small-business loan of $5 million.”

The 34-unit building, 444 28th St., is about 10 blocks north of Oakland’s downtown. Mosser Capital is now advertising studios and one-bedroom apartments there for $2,195 to $2,295 a month.

The San Francisco-based private-equity firm describes its investment strategy as “value-add renovations in emerging neighborhoods in core West Coast markets” that offer “the opportunity for rent growth.” It began moving into Oakland in 2016, buying 20 buildings. Tenants say it “is making questionable use” of the capital-improvements loophole in the city’s rent-control law to “sharply increase rents” on its more than 500 tenants.