“We can’t just build our way of this crisis with market rate units,” said Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf at the MTC ABAG affordability summit, as EBHO members held up demands for real solutions.
Powerful voices of residents fighting homelessness, family separation, and the danger of renewed segregation in the Bay Area dominated the summit on housing and affordability hosted by MTC and ABAG on Feb. 20. Nearly 500 people packed the Oakland Convention Center on a Saturday morning to share their experiences and strategies for housing the Bay Area.
The voices of residents struggling in Forestville, San Mateo and Oakland highlighted the pain of today’s crisis. Melissa Jones told the story of raising her 12-year-old son in a one-room basement apartment, fighting mildew and the lack of privacy, while employed full-time as a teacher and trying to serve students becoming homeless themselves. Reyna Gonzales, a leader in Faith in Action, shared the pain of family separation and grandchildren raised too far away. Theolia Polk told a powerful story of leaving the South to avoid racial discrimination and segregation – only to see the affordability crisis take America backward.
San Francisco Foundation president Fred Blackwell called on the assembled leaders to acknowledge failures in housing markets and continued racial inequities, while developing more sophisticated strategies to address income and opportunity inequality. Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said, “Too many people are housing insecure and asset poor. We can’t just build our way of this this crisis with market rate units.” Former HUD official Carol Galante issued a clarion call to address the inequity of mortgage deductions, and former CA HCD director Claudia Cappio called for new revenue sources and a sustainable funding source for affordable homes. Dr. Jennifer Martinez urged rent stabilization measures, popular with voters, to preserve the character of many unique Bay Area communities.
EBHO resident leaders stood and held signs to focus attention on the crisis’s human cost and residents’ determination to find equitable, sustainable solutions. As NPH continues to meet with MTC and ABAG about solutions to the regional housing crisis, we will share promising strategies and opportunities.
Written by Sharon Cornu, NPH’s Political Director. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or comments!