Step 2: Quantifying Oakland’s Housing by Tenure

With the preliminary list of tenure types defined during Step 1, each tenure type was quantified. Our goal was to define the number of units and number of occupants in each tenure. We scanned existing data sources to determine what was possible to quantify for each tenure type, for which we largely relied on existing secondary public data. Some numbers were also obtained later on through the research undertaken in Step 3. In other cases, it wasn’t possible to obtain reliable estimates for certain tenure groups with our resources.

Click here to download the final estimated counts for each Oakland tenure.

Following this quantification exercise, we proceeded to Step 3, which entailed an analysis of the legal protections and advocacy landscape for each tenure in Oakland.

Data Sources and Collection Methods

For more ‘traditional’ tenure types — unsubsidized rentals and ownership types — American Community Survey (ACS) or Public Use Microdata (PUMS) data from 2016 were used. HdL, Coren, and Cone data from 201612 was used to cross-check and provide additional detail (e.g. on owner-occupied status; see Note 1 at the bottom of the page). For homeless tenure types, the Oakland Point-in-Time Count was used for several types (encampments, unsheltered, vehicle). For subsidized rentals, data was compiled from the HUD Picture of Subsidized Households, the Oakland Housing Authority, and a dataset put together by the California Housing Partnership Coalition (CHPC) and the Center for Community Innovation (CCI).

Reports from the City of Oakland were useful regarding some of the mid-sized tenure types, such as SROs and the scale of short-term rentals in Oakland, while reports from the California Department of Housing and Community Development provided data on mobile homes.

For the “third way” tenure types, Oakland Community Land Trust provided data directly on their properties. For some of the informal tenure types, it was necessary to do more digging, either directly with advocates such as Safer DIY Spaces, or through websites, such as those for the East Oakland Community Project (youth transitional housing), and the Oakland Fund for Children and Youth (foster care). The table below summarizes data sources and the tenure types for which they were used.

HdL, Coren, and Cone parcel data– Single-family rental (number of units)
– Mutli-family rental – 2-3 units (all renter occupied, owner occupied)
– Rent-regulated units calculation (not included as seperate tenure type)
American Community Survey (ACS) / Public Use Microdata (PUMS)– Single-family rental
– 2-4 units, 4+ units
– Overcrowding (re: subleasing and doubling up)
– Single-family homeownership (HOA, no HOA)
– Condo
– Owner-occupied multi-family
HUD Picture of Subsidized Households– Housing choice (Section 8) voucher
– HUD public housing
Oakland Housing authority– Project-based HUD assistance
OakCLT estimates based on operations– CLT – single-family homeownership, condo
– CLT cooperative (non-equity) / Resident self-managed rental housing
– Limited equity co-op (CLT owns land)
EveryOne Home Oakland Point-in-Time Count– Encampments
– Unsheltered homeless
– Vehicle
Official Communications from Mayor’s Office – Outdoor navigation centers
– Services-in-place encampments
American Housing Survey– Lodger law
Reports from the City of Oakland– Single-room occupancies (SROs)
– Short-term rentals (STRs)
Alameda County Social Services Agency– Senior (age-restricted) housing
California Housing and Community Development– Mobile homes
Safer DIY Spaces (live-work nonprofit)– Live-work spaces
East Oakland Community Project– Transitional youth care
Oakland Fund for Children and Youth– Foster care Directory– Cohousing

We were unable to arrive at estimates for every tenure. The table below summarizes the tenure types were were unable to quantify.

Tenure CategoryTenure Type
Unsubsidized Rental– Motels
– ADU tenants (permitted ADU)
– Religion-linked housing
Subsidized Rental– BMR units
– Supportive housing
Ownership– Permanent affordability deed homeownership
– Section 8 homeownership
– Single family with ADU (permitted, unregistered)
Third Way– Informal shared houses
– Rent-to-own (private model, nonprofit model)
Informal and Homelessness– ADU tenant (ADU not permitted)
– Sanctioned community live-work / mixed-occupancy spaces
– Single-use residential with non-conforming unit (eg converted basement / garage)
– Doubling up
– Adverse possession (squatting)
– Short-term rentals (STRs)
– Youth shelters
– Services-in-place encampments
– Decentralized Tuff Sheds/tiny houses on church/CBO property
– Boats

While many of these tenure types are understandably hard to quantify, including several informal tenure types which are intentionally ‘under the radar,’ the lack of data in other areas is concerning and may imply a call to action for Oakland housing advocates and policymakers. For example, we were unable to obtain an estimate of the number of BMR units in Oakland. While this may exist in city government, its relevance to advocacy for inclusionary housing, density bonuses, and other policies designed to incentivize the production of affordable housing suggests it should be more readily available to the public. Supportive housing may also be important to more easily track, given its relevance to Housing First policy conversations, particularly within the context of the homelessness crisis.

Accessory dwelling units are another hot topic in policy conversations as the region considers innovative forms of infill housing production. However, calls to the City of Oakland did not yield estimates of this type. Possible ways of quantifying the number of permitted ADUs in Oakland include pulling design review exemptions, or looking at accessory structure in permit description (though these descriptions vary, and may say ‘detached secondary unit’ or ‘category 2 secondary unit’), yet this approach would not capture ADUs within existing structures. There are partial estimates of local ADU numbers, however. One survey conducted by Wegmann and Chapple (2012) found that 16% (55 of 334) of single-family residences near rail transit in Oakland, El Cerrito, and Berkeley (across five BART stations) had existing accessory dwelling units. Wegmann and Chapple (2012) also found an 85% rental rate for these units.

Even for tenure types that cannot be easily tracked through registration, there may be a call to action for improved survey questions on housing type, through both large-scale efforts like the American Community Survey, but also, as suggested by convening participants, through recent initiatives such as the Black Census Project. For example, the number of renters living with 1.51 or more occupants per room (6,651 renters), is up 70% since 2009 (Alameda County Public Health and Alameda County Healthy Homes, 2018). In this respect, the displacement crisis might also be seen as a “doubling up” crisis. We are unable to parse what is formal subleasing, unapproved subleasing, or doubling up (presumably unapproved, no leasing arrangement). Doubling up is considered homelessness by the US Department of Health and Human Services, and leaves people vulnerable with few protections. In order to understand the scale of this largely invisible problem, better survey tools may be required. In the interim, HVA may be conducted with an increased set of community partners.

Note 1: For parcel data (HdL, Coren, and Cone 2016 assessor data), receipt of secure homeowner exemption was used as a proxy for owner-occupied status. (This data was also checked against DataQuick parcel data from 2014, to make sure estimates were comparable, where a different proxy was used – whether or not the mailing address was the same as the site address.) For estimating the number of renters living in owner-occupied duplexes/triplexes, the number of parcels was subtracted from total number of units in owner-occupied duplexes/triplexes in order to remove owner-occupied units (one per duplex/triplex).

Continue to Step 3: Analyzing Oakland’s Tenures