Concord, CA—On Tuesday, May 2nd, the city of Concord plans to approve the implementation of a rent mediation program. Mediation is non-binding, so unlimited rent increases will continue to be legal. Tenants and their allies oppose the mediation program because these programs are ineffective at stopping rent gouging.
Tenants Together and the Raise the Roof Concord Coalition will testify before the City Council meeting on Tuesday. Tenants Together is California’s statewide organization for renters’ rights and has been supporting tenant organizing in Concord. Tenants Together is part of the Raise the Roof Concord Coalition, a coalition of renters and allies committed to housing justice. The coalition has called for rent control and just cause for eviction in Concord, and unanimously rejects an unenforceable, landlord-crafted rent mediation program.
Kristi Laughlin, with the Raise the Roof Coalition says, "It is disappointing that the City of Concord is investing precious time and resources into creating a program that does nothing to actually protect Concord renters from price gouging or unfair evictions. Amidst six months of public testimonies at City Council by distressed renters last year, not one urged Rent Mediation as a solution. This is a program that is solely promoted by the special interest lobby group for landlords."
Betty Gabaldon, Concord tenant and Tenants Together member, says, “How will rent mediation help tenants like me who still have to worry about being evicted for no reason? Landlords can still do what they want because final outcome is not legally binding. It is very sad to see what the Concord City Council thinks of its tenants.”
Carol Lamont, the former Housing Director for the City of Fremont, which has had a mediation program without rent control for decades, has since testified before city council hearings on rent control that mediation programs are a failure. The following is excerpted from a letter written in the last year to Richmond and Mountain View City Councils urging them not to adopt mediation proposals:
“I have followed up periodically to check on the success of Fremont’s mediation program and found that even after it was strengthened several times, it is a failure. The best the mediation process offered was additional time for tenants to move out before a rent increase that they could not afford went into effect. Now I have been told by one of the mediators, who is a longtime resident, that Fremont’s ordinance is useless, and that it reflects poorly on the City.
“I have been informed that an analysis by the contractor administering Fremont’s mediation program documented that during the three-year period from March 2012 - March 2015, the program received a total of 1,117 calls (932 from tenants, 185 from landlords). Of the 932 calls from tenants, only 19, just 2% resulted in rent reductions. It is important to note that Fremont has 26,500 resident households who rent homes (37.4% of all households).”
According to Eduardo Torres, organizer with Tenants Together, “a nonbinding mediation program does nothing. Tenants are suffering right now, and won’t stand for this from their leaders at City Hall. A mediation program is a waste of city resources.”