Uninhabitable and invisible

Berkeley resident faces squalid living conditions as Section 8 renter receiving subsidized housing

Section8.2_NicoleWhite
Nicole White/Senior Staff

Stretching across the wall in Monica Ferguson’s entryway is an eight-foot hole.

The hole has been a problem in Ferguson’s house since she first moved there in 2002, and her landlord had repaired it several times. At the first signs of rain last fall, Ferguson said the paint peeled back, reopening the hole and revealing 10 years of wood rot.

This time, her landlord didn’t repair it.

Throughout fall and winter, Ferguson said several rain storms caused water to pour through the hole and into her home “like a waterfall.” She had to line her floors with towels that became so waterlogged she had to wring them out five to six times per day.

By November, the hole had contributed to a rat infestation. Her food is sealed in airtight containers in a backroom of her house to secure it from the rats. Her kitchen cupboards and refrigerator are still completely empty.

“I told her to just get a cat,” said her landlord Susan Carrodus to an exterminator in a video that Ferguson has stored on her phone.section 8-01

The hole remains as a reminder of the months Ferguson has spent living with two of her children in a house that city inspectors have deemed uninhabitable.

Ferguson is a Section 8 renter, which means she receives government-issued vouchers that subsidize a portion of her rent. The damages in her home breach the housing assistance contracts between her, her landlord and the Berkeley Housing Authority, which stipulate that the landlord must provide a habitable environment.

The hole is one of 15 housing quality standard violations identified in Ferguson’s home by the BHA and one of 13 identified by the city’s Housing Code Enforcement division. The BHA inspects houses with Section 8 tenants whereas Housing Code Enforcement conducts citywide inspections and, unlike the BHA, can impose fines.

As a result of the termination of her housing assistance contracts, Ferguson and her children are being forced to move out of the home where they have lived for 14 years.

“It really has broken our family,” Ferguson said. “You can’t imagine.”

When housing inspector David Montes called Carrodus in February, advising her to repair the house to meet housing quality standards, Carrodus told him she would not fix anything because she wanted Ferguson to move out.

Though Ferguson is not being legally evicted, her lawyer Erik Bauman argues that Carrodus’ refusal to make repairs may represent a form of constructive eviction. Constructive eviction refers to deliberate actions landlords may take to interfere with tenants’ use of premises in lieu of formally evicting them.

Ferguson’s situation, however, is not the fault of her landlord alone. The federal and local laws surrounding housing assistance put already-vulnerable Section 8 tenants at risk of experiencing unsuitable living conditions.

Carrodus declined to comment on her relationship with Ferguson despite multiple attempts to contact her.

One of many problems

In 1974, the Housing and Community Development Act established Section 8, a federal government program that subsidizes qualifying low-income tenants’ rental costs by 60 to 70 percent to allow them to lease private houses or apartments. In Berkeley, the local housing authority provides vouchers for about 2,000 units through Section 8.

“It makes sense that they don’t want the government paying landlords who aren’t holding up their end of the bargain.”

— Monica Ferguson’s lawyer Erik Bauman

Ferguson first enrolled in the program approximately 20 years ago as a single mother trying to support her and her youngest daughter while working as a receptionist at a pharmaceutical company. In 2000, she started training to become an IV pharmacy technician and received her license after two years. Later that year, she moved into her current house at 1715 6th St. in Berkeley with her three kids.

She worked until 2005 when she developed a nerve tumor in her wrist. Ferguson is now on indefinite disability leave. Like Ferguson, nearly 50 percent of Section 8 renters have disabilities.

Ferguson currently lives in the house with her two younger children: her 16-year-old daughter and her 21-year-old son who has a disability. Her oldest daughter is now 28 and has moved out.

Up until 2013, Ferguson and her family had few problems with Carrodus. Ferguson would sometimes pick Carrodus’ son up from school at Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School with her own son.

The safety violations in her home started off small — a loose shower knob, a leak under the kitchen sink, a broken refrigerator handle — but Ferguson said Carrodus was frustrated that the BHA required her to complete repairs within a limited time frame and felt that she was being “bullied.”

“Every time there was an inspection, it started to deteriorate our relationship more and more,” Ferguson said.

Whereas property owners are typically able to self-certify that their units meet the housing code, the Section 8 program requires annual inspections to ensure that units meet certain safety and living quality standards.

“It makes sense that they don’t want the government paying landlords who aren’t holding up their end of the bargain,” Bauman said.

As months went by, small holes got larger, mold began to grow on the wall and the house’s water heating stopped working for days at a time.

On June 10, 2015, Ferguson complained to the BHA about the state of her home. Two days later, Carrodus sent her a letter informing Ferguson that she had decided to reclaim the unit to give to her son and gave Ferguson 60 days notice to leave.

A landlord can legally evict a tenant if he or she wishes to recover the unit for personal use, according to the Rent Stabilization and Eviction for Good Cause ordinance. In 2000, however, the ordinance was amended when voters approved Measure Y, which stipulates that landlords who evict low-income tenants on the grounds of owner move-in must pay a relocation fee of $4,500.

Ferguson said after the Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board notified Carrodus that she could only evict her if she paid a relocation fee, Ferguson never heard about the son moving in again.

The house failed a BHA inspection in June, but Carrodus repaired some of the problems, allowing it to pass a reinspection in August. Ferguson, however, said the repairs were short-lived and old issues resurfaced a few days later.

In November, the house again failed a BHA inspection with five violations. When the BHA reinspected the unit a month later, the number of violations had grown to 15.

Two days later, Ferguson’s Section 8 contract went into abatement, meaning that the BHA began to withhold rental subsidy payments from Carrodus. The BHA cannot impose fines to discourage violations, but it can withhold voucher payment from the landlord, according to Tia Ingram, executive director of the BHA.

bathroomThough Ferguson was still liable to pay her portion of the rent, Carrodus began refusing to accept her monthly checks in December.

“I think that shows there is some reason that the landlord wants Ms. Ferguson out,” Bauman said. “(Carrodus’ behavior) doesn’t make sense from a financial or a human empathy perspective.”

When the BHA  reinspected the unit in January, not one of the 15 violations had been fixed.

Meanwhile, Ferguson and her children had spent the holiday season in a home that was rapidly falling further into disrepair.

“That was 60 days of me putting those towels down and living in horrible conditions,” Ferguson said.

All the while, Ferguson tried her best to maintain a sense of normalcy for her and her children. In her house, the carpet is freshly vacuumed and potted plants line the windowsills.

“My house doesn’t look like we’re living in squalor,” Ferguson said. “I’ve learned how to keep certain doors shut.”

Nevertheless, some elements of the house’s damages could not be hidden.

When mold began to creep through the closet in her daughter’s bedroom, Ferguson started to sleep in the living room so her daughter could stay in the master bedroom. But when mold also began to appear in the bedroom of her son, who has asthma, he began sleeping in the master bedroom while Ferguson and her daughter both slept in the living room.

Until last month, Ferguson said the gardeners had stopped tending to her yard during the course of her conflict with her landlord. In front of her house, the grass reached well past her ankles. A shrub was so overgrown that it had tipped over.

“My house doesn’t look like we’re living in squalor.” I’ve learned how to keep certain doors shut.”

— Monica Ferguson, Berkeley resident

There are two other units on the same lot where Ferguson lives, neither of which house Section 8 tenants. The grass in front of both were neatly mowed and without weeds.

At the peak of her problems with her landlord, Ferguson requested an inspection from Housing Code Enforcement in the hope that fines imposed by the agency would motivate Carrodus to make repairs. In February, the city fined Carrodus for housing code violations.

Carrodus did not begin repairs until March. That month, the BHA also informed Ferguson that the Section 8 contract pertaining to her residency in the house would be terminated in April.

A growing problem

According to Michael St. John, an economic consultant for the Berkeley Property Owners Association, after the establishment of rent control in 1980, if the BHA’s payment standard was set above the rent ceiling of a particular dwelling or unit, leasing to Section 8 tenants was an opportunity for landlords to make increased profits.

Fifteen years later, however, the state Legislature’s passage of the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act stipulated that landlords can establish initial rent rates independent from rent ceilings whenever a unit undergoes a change in tenancy.

According to Jay Kelekian, executive director of the Rent Stabilization Board, the Costa-Hawkins Housing Act economically incentivizes the eviction of tenants.

The Rent Stabilization and Eviction for Good Cause Ordinance of 1980 is intended to protect tenants against arbitrary eviction, stipulating that landlords need “good cause” for eviction. Some examples of “good cause” include a tenant’s failure to pay rent, transgression of the rental agreement terms or willful infliction of substantial damage to the unit.

holes

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s regulations initially allowed property owners to opt out of the Section 8 program and evict tenants at any point, so long as they gave 90 days notice. This provision was removed through an amendment that went into effect in 1999, but the BHA, originally unaware of this change, continued to allow owner opt-outs until March 2013.

“(Property owners) chose to rent under Section 8 because they could get higher rents and they signed up for a program knowing they could opt out,” St. John said. “Now, 10 years later, they’re being told they can’t opt out and they feel trapped and they feel like they aren’t be treated right.”

Between Jan. 1, 2013 and Dec. 31, 2015, 252 contracts of the BHA’s approximately 2,000 contracts, including Ferguson’s, were abated for failure to meet housing quality standards.

Bauman noted that he has seen an increase in Section 8 tenants who say that their landlords are refusing to make repairs in the years since opt-outs stopped being granted.

“It’s illegal, (landlords) can get sued, but the reality is that … it’s hard for these tenants to get attorneys,” said Laura Lane, housing practice director at the East Bay Community Law Center.

An individual or family must make below 50 percent of the median income of their county or metropolitan area in order to qualify for the Section 8 program. Seventy-five percent of vouchers are required to be given to applicants that annually earn 30 percent or less of the area median income.

“We don’t have anywhere to go, but we’re packing.”

— Monica Ferguson, Berkeley resident

Starting Over

The walls in Ferguson’s living room are bare.

She originally took down all of her family photos to protect them from the rain during the winter, neatly stacking them in boxes. Now, the majority of her other belongings are also stored alongside them in a room at the back of her house.

After 14 years living in the house with her son and daughter, Ferguson is preparing to leave.

“We don’t have anywhere to go, but we’re packing,” Ferguson said.

The few decorations that remain in the house sit on her mantle: her son’s high school diploma, graduation cap and a picture from her daughter’s elementary school graduation.

“This is the only thing I can’t take down because it makes my heart hurt,” Ferguson said.

Because of his disability, Ferguson’s son is eligible to live in transitional youth housing, which he moved into in April. But Ferguson has been unable to find a place for her and her daughter to stay.

After looking for housing for almost a year, Ferguson has entered several housing lotteries and is on waiting lists but has yet to receive a housing offer. Being on Section 8, Ferguson said, is starting to feel like a “dealbreaker” when it comes to finding housing.

At one house showing, when Ferguson revealed she was a Section 8 tenant, the landlord told her she had “wasted her time.”

According to federal housing regulations, if a tenant’s housing voucher isn’t used for more than six months, the voucher is terminated and the renter will no longer receive assistance. Because her contract entered abatement in December, Ferguson has until May 31 to find a place to stay for her and her daughter.

Otherwise, Ferguson said, she will not be able to afford a market rent unit in the Bay Area.

“I have a 16-year-old that walks home from school on her own and I want her to be safe, but I have to get whatever I can,” Ferguson said, adding that they may have to move outside of Berkeley, forcing her daughter to transfer from Berkeley High School. “She’s going to be a senior next year. She’s doing really good — that’s why I hate to move her out of school.”

Despite her circumstances, Ferguson said she refuses to leave the house without putting up a fight. Over the course of her problems with Carrodus, Ferguson began contacting lawyers at the East Bay Community Law Center, who informed her of her rights as a tenant.

“I think she thought I was going to go out quietly, (but) I started becoming my own advocate,” Ferguson said.

She now plans to sue Carrodus for several causes of action, including the breaching of the house’s warranty of habitability and the intentional infliction of emotional distress. Ferguson expressed that she hopes the lawsuit will help to bring justice to her situation.

Up until this point, she’s faced almost no consequences,” Ferguson said.

Jessica Lynn is the lead city government reporter. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @jessicailynn.

Correction(s):
A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Monica Ferguson went on disability leave due to a nerve tumor in her breast. In fact, the nerve tumor is in her wrist.

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  • Jack

    Here are some facts that few people know about. In government subsidized housing programs the landlord is required to notify the tenant of lease violations, after that it is the job of social services to HELP THE TENANT to honor the lease. Social services refuses to do their job and they ONLY HOLD THE LANDLORD RESPONSIBLE. It is a requirement of the program for tenants to honor the lease. This is all available online in the fine print of the government publications. In Berkeley tenants can do no wrong so landlords become frustrated and cannot end the tenancy or their participation in section 8. This is clearly theft by the government. Read the one sided article. Things started in goodwill then went downhill. WHY NOT ASK THE LANDLORD WHAT HAPPENED? You will hear a very different story.

  • Jack

    Another 1 sided Berkeley style story. I am a landlord who naively assumed that I was doing a community service by making my apartments available to anyone, section 8 or not. Sounds fair, right? WRONG. The tenant is allowed by section 8 inspectors to treat my home and neighbors like crap, then they send me a letter telling me that I have to fix the place up. They straight up refuse to speak to me or the tenant about his destructive and disruptive behavior. Social services people are liars everyone and that is a fact. Stay far far away from the BHA, the rent board and the east bay community law center. They automatically attack landlords, their precious tenants can do no wrong. They target and abuse landlords, and that my friends is a fact. You are automatically wrong just because you are ‘the landlord’.

  • lspanker

    Lay down the crack pipe and step away from the keyboard, Bubba.

  • lspanker

    You haven’t made a point about living within your means.

    Au contraire.

    How long have you been renting? Why is the rent so low? Is it a legal rental unit? Is it able to pass the HQS?

    The rent is lower because I currently live in Reno, NV, where I was able to find employment at a salary slightly below what I would make in CA, but a significantly lower cost of living that will put an extra $12-15K per year in my pocket…

    Or, maybe you have blond hair and a tan?

    Hardly…

    I really dngas. The blind cannot see. The deaf cannot hear. And haters hate. blahblahblahhh…

    And people who insist on living in some locale were they can’t afford to live wonder why the rest of us have NO sympathy for them. Oh well, some people are slow learners…

  • Mr. Chow

    Section 8 needs to be eliminated for the good of everyone. It’s obvious this lady can’t afford to stay in Berkeley with her kids (by the way, where’s dad?). She needs to move to a less expensive area, most likely out of California.

    • lspanker

      True, but in Bezerkeley, we have a group of people who believe they have a “right” to live in a place with above-average housing costs, even when they are not employed or employable. Methinks they are scared to move out to places in the real world where the locals will tell them they are full of it when they spout of their loopy social and political views…

      • Mr. Chow

        yes and as bad as it might be for her here, she knows she still has it better here then somewhere else that doesn’t have bay area weather and other things that make it so desirable to live here. God forbid she actually tries to live within her means.

        • lspanker

          Apparently the hard left is of the opinion that everyone has the “right” to live in Berkeley except for people who can actually afford it. Fact of the matter is that the left is in a blind panic about what they call “gentrification” because they fear that the new inhabitants will not take kindly to having to pay taxes for incentivizing vagrancy, poor-performing schools where their children are subject to violence on a regular basis, and a small cadre of geriatric 1960’s-1970’s hippie holdover holding city council meetings hostage with their theatrics.

  • lspanker

    Ferguson first enrolled in the program approximately 20 years ago as a single mother trying to support her and her youngest daughter while working as a receptionist at a pharmaceutical company.

    So she has been on Section 8 for 20 YEARS? There’s the problem there – programs that were (supposedly) intended to get people back on their feet after a couple of years have apparently become lifestyle choices…

  • Mark Talmont

    Good reporting on an under-reported issue. Zoning and code in the Bay Area is all over the place, there are many areas that are virtually “no code” zones. To see where this leads check out the YouTube showing all the outlaw mods in (muni bankruptcy) San Bernardino.

    I remember when the SF Chronicle would publish the restaurant safety violations, rumor was they pulled plug on doing it because of political pressure from Chinatown. My Chinese friend always warned me, stay away from the fancy places where the kitchen is way in the back, the best bet is always the small family joint where you can actually see right into where they are cooking!

  • a lot of these renters especially section 8 are terrible. if I was a landlord, I would want them out too

  • Andrew Pullin

    There is no mention of actual dollar amounts here, which makes the morality very easy and convenient, and it sounds like a line of dishonests or other-than-honesty is being ridden here. How much is the Section 8 voucher subsidizing their rent? How much do they contribute to their rent, if anything? How much do their receive in SSDI? Why does having one wrist tumor permanently take her out of the work force? If actual numbers were put down, I’m pretty sure a different picture would be painted.

    I mean, let’s be clear here: this sounds like a group of three people with zero income, other than the mother’s disability entitlement, and the argument is, what, that people have the right to have a nice place to live in one of those most expensive cities in the country, no matter what?

    • Bubba Summermoon

      A section 8 voucher for a 2 bedroom in Berkeley is approximately $2,200 per month. A voucher holder, dependent upon personal income, could pay $0 and up to 30% of calculated holder’s share.
      Based upon income.
      Berkeley section 8 voucher holders include, disabled, indigent, teachers, low wage workers and some of you who discount a person for not being the “same” as you.
      Most are regular persons, like you. So, if you were to be hit by a garbage truck, and left your family financially ruined, there is a tenuous safety net.
      Just because a human being has the desire and need for shelter, you think, or believe they should be unhoused?
      Perhaps we ALL need to go live in the shadows? Or, are you valuing “human worthiness” upon the size of the purse?
      If you fall, wouldn’t you ask for assistance? If you are invalided, wouldn’t you need and/or seek shelter?
      This story should incense and inflame you, MORE, because this family is being treated like “emancipated slaves”.
      BUT, NO! YOU DISMISS THE INFIRMITY. Berkeley wasn’t ALWAYS so expensive.
      This is a community that was dairy farms and diverse. Landlords and property owners profited from the Japanese Internment and then the students needed housing and markets…then after the 60s and 70s, came Silicon Valley. Now Berkeley is valued above the means of living for families that raised generations. Now, it has become ‘discriminatory’ and suffers beneath the pressure of a dwindling “lower to mid-level” middle class.
      Gentrification has changed Berkeley. It isn’t a bastion of humanitarian empathy.
      NOT WHEN THERE’S GOLD IN THEM HILLS AND WAYS TO GET SOME OF YOUR OWN…as long as those “people” don’t get to spend hard earned taxpayer money.
      Simple truth is, poor people pay more in taxes than people with property and more wealth.
      “One wrist tumor”? Are you a medical specialist? Read the background. Disability? SSDI? I hope that you never face misfortune. I hope that you do not have to carry on with disabled dependents. I hope you never EVER sit on a community board, or a civic position.
      I wish you a long life and….basic human dignity.

      • lspanker

        If you lived in Berkeley for “generations” and OWNED your own home, you might be able to cash out as so many former residents have, and buy a comparable home elsewhere for half the money, and stash some extra money away toward retirement. In addition, your idea that poor people pay more taxes is ludicrous, given that the lower 45% of individual income earners in this country pay NO net income taxes…

        • Bubba Summermoon

          Sugary Beverage Tax? Gentrification? Cost of living? Condescending attitudes? Where were you living in 1963? Where is your bs coming from? Are you so steeped in privilege that anything less is lack of effort? Are you even a real person?
          You’re just another individual with an opinion, like me. You see nothing. You feel nothing. You are angry, ego-centric and the dark mirror that haunts my dreams.
          Learn this Spanky: ALL IS ILLUSION 🎤

          • lspanker

            Sugary Beverage Tax? Gentrification? Cost of living? Condescending attitudes? Where were you living in 1963? Where is your bs coming from? Are you so steeped in privilege that anything less is lack of effort? Are you even a real person?

            Real person, working, taxpayer. I live where I can afford, and don’t expect others to subsidize my rent.

          • Bubba Summermoon

            Then, as some may say, “You are blessed.”
            I say, “Live long and prosper. Pax.”

          • lspanker

            Then, as some may say, “You are blessed.”

            Not blessed, merely motivated and responsible…

  • Nunya Beeswax

    It seems as though the tenant would be within her rights to withhold rent from the landlord. Isn’t this a warrant of habitability issue?

    • lspanker

      Of course, if she’s not paying a significant share of the rent out of her own pocket, she doesn’t have much of a stick to wield, does she?

      I will be the first to admit that both tenants and landlord game the Section 8 system, so I’m not going to claim that the landlord doesn’t share some culpability here as well. However, one of the little things that the goody-goody progressives forget is that their own attempt to protect poor people from their actions is that they never allow them to learn how to take the initiative in solving problems. What stops her from getting it repaired herself and figuring out how to bill it to the landlord? My experience with small claims and arbitration courts is that in the cases of landlord vs. tenant disputes, judges tend to show significant sympathy to tenants who try to take the initiative to fix problems themselves. We simply have a subset of people in this country who have never been taught how to solve problems on their own…

      • Bubba Summermoon

        Hypothetical: A renter pays $2,400 per month for a studio apartment. Your monthly take-home is $3,000 per month.
        Your landlord won’t pay for a roof repair for your rental. You do not have accumulated 3, THREE, months of rental funds in the bank.
        You have signed a lease that limits what steps you can utilised to fix the damage yourself. In fact, the city’s inspection holds the landlord/leaseholder responsible. Landlord wants to ask $3,000 per month for rent…but rent control.
        What do you do?
        [Forgot: you also have a disabled dependent with special needs. You are the only wage earner.]
        You don’t own property, drive an 8 year-old vehicle, and you’re pregnant (you thought you would have a partner to share life and expenses, but)
        Then the landlord says that the property is being sold because they cannot maintain it. New owner. New increased rent.
        Where do you go? How do you remedy the situation? What do you do?
        I know, “Ask Judge Judy.”
        Some of us have been “solving” problems for decades, but you must have never been denied work. Denied respect. Denied an equal opportunity. Denied basic human respect.
        You are a “magical” creature without worry and/or a serious problem.
        I would ask that you live upon $1,400 per month. Food, medicine, housing, transportation to and from work and 1 dependent.

        What we have is a subset of mindless, selfish and fearful citizens. If you have a class to be ‘better than’, you are part and parcel complicit in the crimes against humanity.

        • lspanker

          Hypothetical: A renter pays $2,400 per month for a studio apartment. Your monthly take-home is $3,000 per month.

          Sounds like the renter in question shouldn’t be renting in Berkeley. If this is a person only capable of making $15/hour, perhaps said renter should relocate somewhere more affordable.

          • Bubba Summermoon

            “Sold my soul to the company store…”
            “…another day older and deeper in debt…”
            Sorry, you sound like a broken record…say “Hello”, to Scalia in his “lesser”Hell, as the attitude goes by.
            Sigh, I know better than to cross this bridge, but your “pithy”response lacks empathy.
            Must have been a slow day lurking under the bridge.
            Later, troll, “buh-bye.”

          • lspanker

            I see you weren’t able to address my point. I make between 2x and 3x that of this hypothetical renter and I wouldn’t think of living in a place where I would pay that much rent for anything, much less a studio (unless my income were to double). In fact, I am currently renting a 2 bedroom bungalow type house – nice and well-maintained – built in the 1920’s, with the original hardwood floors, and off street parking for 2 cars on a tree-shaded street in a reasonably nice neighborhood, within walking distance of museums, the post office, a library, an Amtrak station, and a reasonable selection of restaurants, coffee/bagel places, 4 different brewpubs, and other local businesses. The nearest BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) stop in 3 blocks away if for some reason I want to go downtown and don’t care to walk or drive. Weather is reasonably temperate – light snow a few times per year (usually not more than a couple of inches), summers get in the 80’s but it’s not especially humid. I am within an hour’s drive in one direction of boating, fishing, water skiing, hiking, and camping in the summer, and skiing/snowboarding in the winter. If that’s not to my liking, I can drive off in the other direction and go 4-wheeling and explore fossil beds and old ghost towns in the high desert. My city has a state university, live theater, venues for live jazz and blues, and a AAA ball club. My rent? $1025 per month + an electricity/gas bill that averages $50 – half of what your hypothetical reader is paying. It’s called BEING REALISTIC and LIVING WITHIN ONE’S MEANS. You should try it some time.

        • lspanker

          I would ask that you live upon $1,400 per month.

          I have no desire to live on $1,400 per month, which is why I made a point to acquire a useful education and learn marketable skills during my life.

          • Bubba Summermoon

            Good for you Spanks. I have 8 years of college, have worked, struggled, succeeded and struggled again. It is called…LIFE.
            My childhood was spent growing up in a home surrounded by educated and professional people.
            Guess what, Spanker? My father had a Master’s and his boss was paid much more and never finished high-school.
            What you don’t see is the prejudices, biases and RAMPANT denial of equality. Hypocrisy and blind prejudice permeates each and every perception you have expressed. Just live your life the same as a mushroom, because your humanity is flawed.

          • lspanker

            Good for you Spanks. I have 8 years of college, have worked, struggled, succeeded and struggled again. It is called…LIFE.
            My childhood was spent growing up in a home surrounded by educated and professional people.

            Sorry none of that ever rubbed off on you.

            What you don’t see is the prejudices, biases and RAMPANT denial of equality.

            Has NOTHING to do with your poor choices…

  • CalAlum99

    Nice to see the quality of Berkeley rentals staying so nice, subsidized or not.

    • lspanker

      When housing supply is tight (AND some third party is paying the lion’s share of the bill), landlords don’t have much incentive to keep up their properties, given people may not have any other options available. Evil nasty right-wing conservative economists like Militon Friedman could have explained the nature of a problem that oh-so-enlightened liberal/progressive types can’t seem to figure out.