Sacramento to spend on fighting Oak Park gentrification. Here’s how it works

UC Davis

Sacramento city and community leaders on Friday unveiled the first steps of a $10 million program designed to prevent longtime residents from being pushed out of Oak Park as the neighborhood gentrifies.

The program’s funding comes as part of the city’s $1.1 billion agreement for the UC Davis Aggie Square development project. The deal requires the city to allocate money from its housing trust fund and general fund.

The hope is that the money will stop the displacement and gentrification of Oak Park, a historically Black neighborhood that has experienced poverty and disinvestment for decades.

Friday’s announcement will become official at next Tuesday’s City council meeting, during which the first $2 million will likely be approved for use. The funding will go toward home repair, homeless prevention, rehousing services, credit repair and homebuyer education.

Mayor Darrell Steinberg, who played a lead role in negotiating the community benefits, said on Friday the initiative is key to building a modern, inclusive economy. Aggie Square is expected to create thousands of high-paying jobs on the land next to the UC Davis Health campus on Stockton Boulevard.

“Growth is good if we are conscious about the risks of gentrification, and of pricing people out of the communities they have lived in for a long time,” said Steinberg.

Funding will be given to four local organizations — Habitat for Humanity of Greater Sacramento, The Salvation Army, Step Up on Second Street and Unseen Heroes and CLTRE First-time Homebuyer Loan Program. They will then use the money to focus on areas adjacent to Aggie Square in the 95817, 95820, 95824 and 95828 zip codes.

Leslie Fritzsche, economic investment manager for the city of Sacramento, expects program funding to be “put into action” by late spring.

Tamika L’Ecluse, vice president of Sacramento Investment Without Displacement, hopes these services are the first step in what should be a city-wide effort to alleviate resident displacement and stabilize the housing market.

“The city really has a job to do for the robust community outreach that they claim to be proud of,” L’Ecluse said.

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In 2020, activists sued UC Davis and the city over the Aggie Square project, arguing they had not done enough to protect tenants from gentrification. The opposing groups came to an agreement the following year, and finalized a “community benefits agreement” to invest an estimated $50 million dollars in Oak Park and Tahoe Park.

The city of Sacramento and UC Davis are holding community meetings throughout 2023 to provide residents with updates on the project. The first meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Thursday. It will be held at Oak Park Community Center.