One year after the Ghost Ship fire, artists struggle to find housing in Oakland

Carmen Brito wonders whether there’s room for her in the Bay Area.

Three years ago, she returned to Oakland after teaching English abroad and lived out of a car when other housing fell through. Later on, she moved into the attic of a Berkeley house where the kitchen floor had rotted away. And in late 2015, Brito discovered the Ghost Ship warehouse, which had the artistic energy and community she was longing for and a $600 monthly rent she could afford — even though it wasn’t built for people to live there.

Last Dec. 2, during a concert upstairs from her room , Brito woke up choking on smoke. She fled the building and called 911. Minutes later, the deadliest fire in Oakland’s history destroyed the Ghost Ship, killing 36 people.

Though the Ghost Ship fire didn’t reveal the Bay Area’s housing problems, it underscored just how dire they had become. Decades of slow home building left the region unprepared as a tech-fueled economic boom has added more than half a million jobs in the last six years. Prices soared. By the time of the fire, San Francisco’s median home value had topped $1 million, according to real estate website Zillow, and a city study found Oakland’s rents had increased nearly 70% in the eight years prior. Over the last year, costs have gone up even more.

This entry was posted in SF Bay Area News and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.