Rising Prices Pushing Blacks Out of Oakland Now, Too

Oakland sunset (Hitchster / Flickr / CC / Cropped)
Hitchster / Flickr / CC / Cropped

The Bay Area’s traditionally black neighborhoods are slowly becoming white. First it was San Francisco’s Bayview-Hunters Point, and now Oakland is losing some of its longtime black residents.

The change is a consequence of rising real estate prices, incomes that aren’t enough to meet the cost of living, and a lack of homes designed for median-income families or individuals.

All of these signal the region’s growing stratification between the haves and have-nots.

According to Bay Area public radio station KQED, many Oakland residents are moving an hour away to Antioch, making for longer commutes and leaving them missing much of their familiar childhood surroundings.

“I like the prices of the houses in Antioch,” Vanessa Ladson told KQED. She said although she was forced to leave Oakland and move to Antioch, “there is no other church I’m ever going to go to.” Longtime East Oakland resident Diane Kees told KQED that when people make that choice to leave Oakland, “you can’t come back.”

KQED notes that the U.S. Census Bureau estimates Oakland has lost approximately 10 percent of its African-American population In the last decade, down from 113,833 in 2005 to 102,933 in 2014. Much of this is attributed to few incentives for developers to build median-income residences. In fact, city data suggest there were zero homes built specifically for people making a “moderate” income between 2007 and 2014.

Higher incomes and a booming tech industry, with the associated influx of tech workers looking for city lifestyles, have contributed to this dynamic. Silicon Valley professionals who are better able to afford higher prices are coming in and buying these properties. (Many of them are also unable to afford San Francisco’s high prices across the bridge.)

The question remains whether Northern California’s creeping gentrification will soon make its way further inland and over to places like Antioch, pushing prices up further and forcing residents down south or even into a different state altogether.

Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter @AdelleNaz.


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