Jocelyn Foreman was full of nervous energy and dread.
It was a crisp morning in early March. She arrived at the Pleasant Hill Community Center to find a handful of men and women in a semicircle outside the sandstone-colored building, clutching folders and holding cellphones.
They were there for a foreclosure auction, poised to bid on the house that Foreman rents: a single-story, 1,500-square-foot tract home in Pinole. It’s a simple home — set back from the street — with a steep sloping backyard, worn carpets and a roof that leaks when it rains.
A man with a clipboard started the bidding at $175,000. A woman in a maroon sweatshirt and another man offered competing bids. First $176,000. Then $177,000. Then $180,000.
“They just kept going higher and higher and higher,” Foreman said.
The bidding finally stopped at $600,000. Foreman’s stomach dropped. “And I just thought, ‘Oh my God.’ ”
Foreman had hoped she would be able to buy the house and continue living there thanks to a new state law, signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom last fall, that is designed to prevent pandemic profiteering — and give tenants like her a path to homeownership.