If you have attended the general meetings for Cal Habitat this semester, you may have heard of the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA). Here, I have provided an in-depth exploration of the act and what it would do for Berkeley.
TOPA gives tenants the first opportunity to purchase a property when the owner decides to sell. The legislation seeks to reduce displacement in Berkeley and keep people in their homes. TOPA also ensures that the property will remain permanently affordable, regardless of whether the tenants receive a subsidy or pair with a qualified organization to purchase the property. Ultimately, TOPA can be one way of combatting the housing crisis in Berkeley.
TOPA was first implemented in Washington, D.C., while a similar act in San Francisco, the Community Opportunity to Purchase Act (COPA), has recently come into effect. Forty-five community organizations have endorsed TOPA, including the Berkeley Tenants Union, the Berkeley Student Co-Ops, and the Northern California Land Trust.
On their website, you can read more about the movement to pass TOPA in Berkeley. In 2015, tenants' rights and community groups began looking toward TOPA as a model to prevent displacement. More recently, a city council work session for TOPA took place in late January.
Unfortunately, the Berkeley city council has not yet voted on TOPA. However, in anticipation of the vote, advocates have canvassed Berkeley to gather signatures for a petition to pressure city council members to lend their support. Looking to join the effort? It's not too late to RSVP to volunteer to canvass for TOPA this weekend!
If you are a student looking to meet housing needs, look at the Basic Needs Center for more information on finding housing.