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Housing crisis: Berkeley law would put renters first
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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The mayor of Berkeley, California, proposed a new housing policy Thursday aimed at giving renters first dibs when a property goes up for sale, as the state battles a severe housing shortage and homelessness that Gov. Gavin Newsom has declared his top priority.
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Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin announced a proposed ordinance to give renters "the first refusal and right to purchase" when their apartment buildings or rented homes are put on the market. Berkeley's city council will vote on the idea later this month.
“We have a housing crisis and the public expects us to take bold action to fix it," Arreguin said in a statement. “There are growing inequities in the rental market born of speculation and greed, and we must level the playing field."
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City officials say the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act would give tenants more leverage and help them stay housed in one of the country's most expensive real estate markets, which has pushed rents sky high and contributed to a growing homeless crisis.
The median home price in Berkeley was $1.3 million last year, nearly doubled from $704,000 in 2013, Arreguin said. The median rental listing price for a one-bedroom in Berkeley is about $3,400, according to Zillow.