Bay Area artists face a wave of evictions in the weeks after the devastating fire at the Ghost Ship live-work art collective in Oakland, CA. With landlords scared of lawsuits and being held liable, many of the tenants in these unique quarters find themselves fearing eviction and possible homelessness. These live-work artist warehouses have been thriving in the East Bay and San Francisco, and many departments were well aware of their existence and use. However, because the spaces operated as de facto living quarters and were never properly permitted for this use, city officials are scrambling to figure out what to do. The Oakland City Council has faced criticism both for not being vigilant about building safety, as well as from the artist community on not doing enough to protect them from evictions.
City Council is now taking steps to reduce the possibility for increased evictions by working with the city attorney to “write legislation that would allow tenants of these spaces to stay in place, as well as allow city inspectors to investigate buildings for life-threatening risks without imposing the full extent of the building code.” Activists are asking for the city to help artists by providing more affordable housing options. In the mean time, the Justice and Diversity Center in San Francisco, along with the Eviction Defense Collaborative in Oakland, and independent attorneys are now teaming up to help tenants with their defense.
Organizations mentioned/involved: Justice and Diversity Center (JDC)