Rent Crisis Making Neighbors Feel Sick

Rent Crisis Making Neighbors Feel Sick


Alameda’s current rent control battle is not only a clash of economic perspectives, it’s a public health concern. As an Alameda resident and a public health professional, I am concerned about the far-reaching impacts of no-cause evictions and crippling rent increases on Alameda residents, families, and the community at large.

A recent SFGate publication, “Public Health Problems in Oakland Linked to Housing Crisis,” revealed the negative health impacts of displacement including increased rates of asthma, hypertension, depression, and anxiety. Citing an Alameda County Public Health Department study, this article highlighted, “between 2012 and 2014, Alameda County residents who spent 35 percent of their income on rent were twice as likely to be hospitalized for hypertension or mental illness then residents who spent less than 25 percent of their income on rent.” This is concerning for Alameda residents as census data reports Alameda renters spend an average of 52 percent of their income on rent. 

Alameda’s inadequate protections against unsustainable rent increases and no-cause evictions permitted under Measure L1 have profound consequences, dislocating children from their schools and placing enormous stress on their parents. For many families, including eight families at 470 Central Ave. who are fighting no-cause evictions, access to good schools, safe streets, healthy food, and positive social support networks are in jeopardy.

Alameda is a proudly connected community, one that places significant value on children, youth and families. Alameda renters and homeowners alike are invested in the health and well-being of our city and preserving our neighborhoods should be at the top of everyone’s agenda. As November draws closer, we must get our ballot decisions in order, become informed about the key differences between M1 and L1, and vote. Vote with intention, keeping in mind our values of community and family — values threatened by the housing crisis.

Measure M1 stabilizes our community — a positive outcome for renters and homeowners alike. It focuses on equitable rent increases and just-cause protections, preserving the racial, religious and economic diversity that makes Alameda a progressive and inclusive place. As a public health professional, I believe M1 is the best choice for curbing the far-reaching health impacts of the destructive housing crisis currently impacting our community.



Julie Gardner, MPHc, is a public health professional who lives in Alameda.