Meet Carol Crooks

EBHO Member & Section 8 Voucher Recipient

Carol Crooks is a leader in EBHO’s Regional Policy Committee and the East Bay Gray Panthers.

Crooks is also a Section 8 voucher recipient, meaning she pays 30% of her income in rent and federal subsidies pays the difference between that and market rent directly to the person who owns the property she lives in.

In 2020, Carol sat down with EBHO’s Communications Team to share how receiving a Section 8 voucher has changed her life.

“I’ve been interested in politics since way back, but I got deeply involved in housing issues after getting involved with EBHO and the Gray Panthers.”

Carol Crooks trained as an elementary and early childhood teacher, and she often worked clerical and transcription jobs while also substitute teaching. She was unhoused for a period in her mid-forties, sleeping in a leaking camper in her cousin’s yard where it wasn’t safe to use the heater. Through the Section 8 Voucher program, which uses federal and state funds to bridge the gap between 30% of her income and the market cost of rent, she’s been stably housed on the Oakland/Berkeley border for more than 20 years.

“I’ve been through a ringer, and now I see other people going through it. It’s turning into a regular pipeline where people go homeless. It’s particularly true for the elderly. Half the people who are homeless now in the Bay Area are 50 and up, and it’s rapidly getting worse. A lot of people were squeezed out of here. A lot of people were given vouchers and couldn’t find housing in Oakland, so they had to move further out. I’d like to see those people able to come back.

“I would like to see a lot more Black and brown faces in my neighborhood again. I don’t want to be in a segregated area. I would like to see the cities tax empty houses and make sure that it costs them to sit there. Make them pay the tax every month, not once a year. It’s an out-of-control real estate market, the [same] way the stock exchange is out of control. It’s a problem. We are becoming an oligarchy instead of a democracy.”