A group of tenants and housing rights advocates held a demonstration at an Antioch apartment complex to call on the City Council to pass new renter protection rules.

The group of about 40 gathered across the street from the Twin Creeks Apartments on Donlon Boulevard on Wednesday to hold a news conference featuring local residents, two members of the Antioch City Council, members of First 5 Contra Costa, the East County Regional Group and the Alliance for Californians for Community Empowerment.

Speakers urged the council to discuss and pass just cause eviction, rent control and tenant anti-harassment ordinances.

“We cannot wait any longer. We do not want the grass to continue to grow up under this council’s feet.”

Councilmember Tamisha Torres-Walker

“Cities like Oakland, Richmond and Berkley have these protections,” said Jackie Lowery from ACCE. “Today we shined a spotlight on these apartment complexes and homes here in Antioch because renters here are suffering.”

Councilmembers Tamisha Torres-Walker and Monica Wilson have been trying to bring tenant protection rules to a vote since last year and in January the council voted to direct staff to draft language for such ordinances, but the issue has yet to make it onto an agenda.

“We cannot wait any longer. We do not want the grass to continue to grow up under this council’s feet,” Torres-Walker said.

Wilson said everyone has a right to housing, to be free from harassment and to expect that landlords and property management companies will make timely repairs.

“We need your voices at council meetings and we need your voices at the ballot box,” Wilson said.

Rhea Elina Laughlin of First 5 Contra Costa speaks during Wednesday’s press event for tenant protections in Antioch. (Photo by Harika Maddala/Bay City News)

Struggling to make rent

According to a survey of 1,000 Antioch residents conducted by the East County Regional Group, 68 percent of respondents said they’re worried about paying the current rent and 79 percent are worried rents will soon rise.

Also, based on information from the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Department, Antioch had the highest number of eviction lockouts in the county during the pandemic, according to the East County Regional Group.

Data from the Bay Area Equity Atlas shows that in 2019, 61 percent of all Antioch residents spent more than 30 percent of their income on housing, while 67 percent of the city’s residents of color were similarly “housing cost burdened.”

Kamilah Miller, a 20-year Antioch resident, said she has struggled with homelessness in the past but now is able to run a childcare business out of her home.

“I moved to Antioch because it was affordable but it has not been for so long,” Miller said.

After the speakers were done, the demonstrators walked across the street to the Twin Creeks Apartments main office in an attempt to deliver a letter demanding the management company, FPI Management, repair plumbing, lighting and mold issues, among other things.

Requests for comment from FPI Management officials weren’t immediately returned.

Kiley Russell writes primarily for Local News Matters on issues related to equity and the environment. A Bay Area native, he has lived most of his life in Oakland. He studied journalism at San Francisco State University, worked for the Associated Press and the former Contra Costa Times, among other outlets. He has covered everything from state legislatures, local governments, federal and state courts, crime, growth and development, political campaigns of various stripes, wildfires and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.