Tenants and workers gather to protest high rents in May Day rally


Hundreds of Concord residents poured into the streets for the annual May Day rally and march on May 1.

Their message was that the City Council must pass rent control and other tenant protections to prevent more families and businesses from being pushed out of town.

Skyrocketing rents, unjust evictions, displacement and homelessness have had a devastating impact on Concord’s communities, with low-income children and families of color the hardest hit. No Concord neighborhood is affordable for families who earn less than $50,000 a year.

“Everyone deserves a place to raise our families with dignity, to work and contribute to our community, and to live, pray and play free from the threat of displacement,” said Nicole Zapata of the East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy, one of the march’s organizers.

“We all have the right to a safe and secure home – a place of roof and refuge, of true sanctuary,” said Jennifer Morales of Monument Impact, another march organizer.

The day began with a lively rally at Meadow Homes Park, where about 400 people gathered to hear from community members personally affected by the housing crisis. Betty Gabaldón, a single mom displaced from Concord after living here for two decades, told her story of being evicted without cause for organizing a tenant union in her building.

“My story is not unique. Thousands of Concord residents are feeling the stress of high rents, poor living conditions and landlords who take advantage of them. Our children are the ones suffering the most,” she said.

“We need City Council to take action now and pass tenant protection policies,” she added. “Their inaction makes them complicit to the landlord abuse.”

The boisterous crowd then marched to Todos Santos Plaza, chanting in English and Spanish, accompanied by the BoomShake Music drum troupe. Other musical groups entertained at the park, along with a political theater performance.

Dolores Ramos of Central County Regional Group, another march organizer, told the story of her family’s no-fault eviction.

“Like many people here today, I too was evicted along with 28 other families in my building simply because the new owner wanted tenants who could pay more rent,” she said. “Eight months later, and I still can’t find a place I can afford. Our fear is that if things do not improve, we will end up on the street.”

Ramos concluded with a call to action. “We invite you to be part of this movement and urge City Council to pass rent control and just cause for evictions. When we are united, there is no limit to what we can achieve.”

Raise the Roof Coalition represents thousands of Concord renters, families, workers, faith leaders and tenant advocates. This article originally appeared in the Concord Pioneer in May 2019.

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