Gentrification is a hot topic, especially in Sacramento’s Oak Park neighborhood. Some people see it as a serious issue and others see redevelopment as a positive change. One former Oak Park resident, however, believes it is behind the increase in homelessness in Sacramento County.
Victor Brazelton lives in Oakland now, but he is from Sacramento.
"I grew up in Oak Park. My grandma was in Oak Park. It was home. It used to be where we could be in Oak Park and live in a home for $700-800. But once folks purchased these homes again, it was $1,000, then $1,300, then $1,500. We just kept seeing these rent increases," Brazelton said.
Brazelton says at one point, he and his two siblings all shared a home.
"And once we got to the point where we couldn't afford to live in that space anymore, I lived in a park in Oak Park for a while," he recalled.
Brazelton described what it was like the first morning that he woke up homeless.
"It was shocking. How did I get here? What do I do now? Where am I going to go to the bathroom? What am I going to do today? How am I going to get out of this situation? Where am I going to sleep?"
And his story is not unique. Brazelton told ABC10 he knows of several other people who experienced the same things he did.
"[I know] people who have children and people who are sleeping in cars. These are people who are working. Sometimes they're working 2-3 jobs and return to a car to sleep in," said Brazelton.
Numbers from Sacramento Steps Forward, a local non-profit, show there was a 19% increase in homelessness in Sacramento County alone. The study came out in June 2019. Brazelton believes there's a link to gentrification.
Tanya Faison, a community activist with Black Lives Matter, agrees. She says Black Lives Matter has been fighting Oak Park gentrification for years.
"Redevelopment is great if that's all it is. But when it's displacing people then that's when it's a problem. And it's been going on in Oak Park for like a decade now," Faison said.
Faison says the impact is different for everyone, but the formula is basically the same.
"The owner of the property says that they have to move and they don't have to give them a reason... They give them 60 days to move and [the residents] can't find anything affordable now because everything is just so expensive in Oak Park right now."
ABC10 has talked to community organizers who say there are low-income housing options in Oak Park to help with displacement, but they admit they need more.
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