YES on W: Solutions for Homelessness & Illegal Dumping

We didn’t need to hear from the United Nations that our homeless encampments are a “global scandal.” We’ve known for too long that our unhoused neighbors need the city to take real, immediate actions to address this crisis. Measure W would provide part of the solution by creating a Vacant Property Tax to fund solutions to address homelessness and help remedy illegal dumping. Specifically, it would create a dedicated source of funding through a 1% tax on vacant properties (up to $6,000 per parcel, per year).

Oakland has over 5,000 vacant properties, which can become magnets for crime and other problems. It's estimated that the tax could raise up to $10 million annually

Money from the vacant property tax will allow the city to expand some of the best, but least funded, ways to solve these growing problems, including funding for:

  • Emergency tenant assistance to prevent more displacement of our renters;
  • First- and last-deposit assistance to help people get off the streets and into housing;
  • Shelters and innovative use of community-based and faith-based providers to allow use of their properties to help house the homeless;
  • The hiring of and job training for people within the community, including the homeless, to help with cleaning up the community;
  • Incentives to turn unused property into affordable housing including funding for Re-Hab for this purpose, as well as for disability access upgrades; and 
  • Clean up of abandoned properties and prevention of illegal dumping.

Measure W includes the following protections:

  • Exemption for low-income/hardship owners
  • An independent community oversight committee to help ensure proper use – No less than half of the members must be from our hardest-hit neighborhoods
  • Exemptions for non-profits/affordable housing developments
  • Lower tax rates for designated neighborhoods to avoid over-taxing struggling areas
  • Exemptions for properties in use at least 50 days per year
  • $6k per parcel per year is a maximum rate

Many properties have been purchased by large investment firms buying up foreclosures and speculators waiting for future sale but not putting them into use in the meantime. Measure W will help us track problem properties, reduce blight, and help fund vital needs in our community.

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