At a recent Oakland City Council meeting, Gregory Ward stated, “I’m tired of having to come here and say the same thing over and over again. We need housing for the people.”
Gregory is a member of East Bay Housing Organizations (EBHO) and affordable housing resident leader. And like many of us, he is frustrated that the arc of the moral universe is taking so long to bend towards justice when it comes to our city’s housing crisis.
As the Bay Area continues to attract high-paying jobs, rents in the East Bay are skyrocketing, creating housing insecurity that is disproportionately impacting communities of color. Staggering numbers of low-income renters in Alameda and Contra Costa counties are spending more than 50% of their incomes on rent (and nearly 25% of their income on transportation). As a result, many are forced to make unthinkable decisions between paying rent or putting food on the table. At the same time, state and federal funding for affordable homes has been cut 79% since the recession, and many cities lack the renter protections needed to prevent massive displacement.
Some have called for cities to aggressively build more housing – even luxury housing - to add to supply. But our current ultra-expensive rental market won’t create more affordable homes for those who need them most. What we really need are more affordable housing funds and regulatory policies, like Oakland’s new affordable housing impact fee that EBHO, TransForm, and our allies advocated for. These kinds of tools must be part of the solution to help preserve and expand affordable homes for working families, seniors, foster youth, formerly homeless, and people with disabilities.
The good news is that with strong community power, political leadership, and creative investment, we can build and preserve the affordable homes our region needs.
And it’s why we continue to hold our annual Affordable Housing Week (AHW), where neighbors, policy-makers, and advocates can learn about the power of affordable homes, and more importantly, get involved in fighting for housing justice right here in the East Bay.
This year’s Affordable Housing Week theme is “Homes and Hope” and will take place from May 13 to 22. Our members will host seventeen events in six cities across the East Bay that provide the education, celebration, and mobilization we need to build a powerful movement for affordable homes. From bike tours, ground breakings, and advocacy trainings – all of which are free and open to the public – Affordable Housing Week has something for everyone.
We are also excited to honor TransForm for their coalition leadership for public investment in affordable homes at the local, regional, and statewide levels. We will be celebrating all of our 2016 Affordable Housing Advocacy Champions at the AHW Kick-Off Celebration on May 13 in Oakland (you can buy your tickets here).
There couldn’t be a better time to get involved with EBHO’s movement for affordable homes. Most notably, voters in Alameda County will likely be voting on a proposed county Bond, which like San Francisco’s voter-approved Prop A would provide $500 million for building and preserving affordable homes. And your voice is urgently needed in local campaigns for affordable homes, renter protections, and anti-displacement efforts in Concord, Walnut Creek, Berkeley, Oakland, Fremont, Richmond, Alameda, and beyond.
So please join us for Affordable Housing Week, and help EBHO to celebrate thousands of East Bay affordable homes, take a fresh look at what’s driving the crisis in affordability, and be a part of building community power to end displacement and sustain affordable homes for generations to come.