Wendy Saenz Hood Neufeld is running for the Berkeley rent board to represent homeowners.
Saenz Hood Neufeld’s platforms include pushing the Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board to have greater accountability and transparency as well as improving the board’s outreach. Saenz Hood Neufeld also hopes to build community partnerships, something she believes could further the rent board’s effectiveness.
“Good policy comes out of having good data, and I don’t see a lot of good data,” Saenz Hood Neufeld said. “So one of the first things I would like to push for is an audit of the Rent Stabilization Board.”
To improve transparency, Saenz Hood Neufeld would also like to see databases concerning evictions, market rates versus the actual going rates of apartments and occupancy rates, among other relevant sets of information.
According to Saenz Hood Neufeld’s candidate statement, her working background at large nonprofit universities has “prepared” her for stretching limited budgets. If elected, she also wants to make sure Berkeley residents get “the most for their money.”
“When such a big percentage of a person’s income is going to rent, that definitely affects how much money can be spent on health care, child care, good nutrition,” Saenz Hood Neufeld said about affordable housing.
As a homeowner and a previous tenant, Saenz Hood Neufeld said she can sympathize with both groups, adding that by bridging the gap between them, it is possible to work toward viable housing options.
Saenz Hood Neufeld’s main objective is to increase the availability of naturally occurring affordable housing, including golden duplexes and auxiliary dwelling units. According to Saenz Hood Neufeld, these types of housing can be affected by certain restrictions, one of which she experienced when she returned to Berkeley.
As a new widow, Saenz Hood Neufeld was unable to move back into the house she and her husband owned because she could not afford the $15,000 relocation fee that she was required to pay the tenants who occupied the home at the time.
“I felt compelled to run because I saw that, looking over the Rent Stabilization Board, there weren’t any homeowners on that board,” Saenz Hood Neufeld said. “With a homeowner on the board, there is the opportunity to have more balanced representation and more meaningful dialogue about how there’s not enough housing here.”