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Bay Area Mayors, Advocates Urge Congressional Delegation to Make Historic Investments in Housing

Leaders Rally Around Long-term Solutions to Region’s Affordability Crisis

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Breno Assis/ Unsplash

A coalition of elected leaders, private, and philanthropic partners sent a letter (http://ow.ly/DBuJ50FNGsX) to the region’s federal legislators on August 10 calling on them to include historic investments in affordable housing in the upcoming budget reconciliation legislation before Congress.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf were joined by many of the region’s leading housing providers, advocates, and experts to urge California members of Congress to:

  • Ensure anyone eligible for a housing voucher can get one by making vouchers a federal entitlement.
  • Enact House Financial Services Chairman Maxine Waters’ Housing is Infrastructure Act of 2021, which would provide over $600 billion in affordable, equitable housing infrastructure; and focus resources in the region using flexible models such as the Bay Area Housing Finance Authority.
  • Strengthen the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program by increasing the number of credits, which would create over 330,000 new housing units in California.

This coalition stemmed from a regional effort to build on local economic recovery task forces and to align behind key priorities to rebuild and regrow a Bay Area where everyone can thrive. It recognizes that affordable housing is a critical priority to ensure an equitable recovery. The coalition noted:

“In the Bay Area and around California, our communities face an acute shortage of affordable housing, worsened by a pandemic that has further revealed the vast inequities, especially facing Black, Brown, Asian Pacific Islander, and Indigenous communities…”

“…Advancing these priorities will spur desperately needed affordable housing production and ensure all residents have access to a safe, affordable place to call home.”

A copy of the letter can be found at http://ow.ly/DBuJ50FNGsX, and the full text is included below:

 

The Honorable Dianne Feinstein, U.S. Senate,

The Honorable Alex Padilla, U.S. Senate,

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi, U.S. House of Representatives,

The Honorable Mark DeSaulnier, U.S. House of Representatives ,

The Honorable Anna Eshoo, U.S. House of Representatives,

The Honorable John Garamendi, U.S. House of Representatives,

The Honorable Jared Huffman, U.S. House of Representatives,

The Honorable Ro Khanna, U.S. House of Representatives,

The Honorable Barbara Lee, U.S. House of Representatives,

The Honorable Zoe Lofgren, U.S. House of Representatives,

The Honorable Jerry McNerney, U.S. House of Representatives,

The Honorable Jackie Speier, U.S. House of Representatives,

The Honorable Eric Swalwell, U.S. House of Representatives,

The Honorable Mike Thompson, U.S. House of Representatives

 

Re: Housing Priorities for the Bay Area Region 

 

Dear Bay Area Congressional Delegation Members:

Thank you for your historic, ongoing leadership in providing critical resources to the nation – and the Bay Area – to recover from the health, economic, and housing consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. We have come together across the private, public, and nonprofit sectors to work in collaboration toward a more equitable housing recovery in our region, home to over 7.7 million people, and look to your leadership in helping us secure key housing investments, which only the federal government can meet.

Cities and counties across the region convened local economic recovery task forces early in the pandemic, identifying local priorities and actions to provide immediate relief and advance local recovery strategies. To build on the work of the regional economic recovery task forces, a coalition of public, private, and philanthropic partners came together to identify our region’s most pressing state and federal priorities to ensure an equitable recovery. Common across the Bay Area was the recognition of affordable housing as a critical priority to ensure an equitable recovery.

In the Bay Area and around California, our communities face an acute shortage of affordable housing, worsened by a pandemic that has further revealed the vast inequities, especially facing Black, Brown, Asian Pacific Islander, and Indigenous communities. While there are numerous causes, millions of California families are housing insecure:

  • Tens of thousands are homeless. In 2019, 35,028 individuals were experiencing homelessness in Bay Area counties.
  • Overall, 137,500 households, including 86,600 low-income Bay Area households, are at risk of eviction and collectively owe $256 million in rent debt. If 10% of currently at-risk households became homeless, that would lead to a 44% increase in homelessness.
  • The vast majority of renters who are behind on their rent have experienced job and income losses during the pandemic: 78% have lost employment income, while 81% earn less than $75,000.
  • As of 2017, 71% of necessary permits were issued for above moderate-income units, compared with only 9% to 13% for either very low, low, or moderate-income units in the current 2015 to 2023 housing cycle.
  • Due to generations of disinvestment, Black, Latinx, Native American, Mixed/other renters are more likely to be rent-burdened, particularly among female-headed renter households. Eighty-eight percent of renters who are behind on rent are people of color. Moreover, Black residents represent 29% of people experiencing homelessness in the region but only 6% of Bay Area residents.

As a coalition of leading housing providers, advocates, and experts working in the region, we are requesting that you fight on behalf of the following federal priorities that will directly improve millions of lives in the Bay Area:

  1. Transform the Housing Choice Voucher program into a federal entitlement so that every household that qualifies for assistance can receive it. We urge you to support House Financial Services Chairwoman Maxine Waters’ visionary effort to advance this goal through the inclusion of the Ending Homelessness Act of 2021 in reconciliation legislation this year. In addition to making vouchers an entitlement, the comprehensive Ending Homelessness Act of 2021 provides protections against discrimination based on source of income and funding for supportive services, creation of permanent affordable housing for people experiencing homelessness, and technical assistance for relevant state and local authorities. Together, these actions could end widespread homelessness as we know it.
  2. Invest in affordable housing in reconciliation legislation this year by including Chairwoman Waters’ Housing is Infrastructure Act of 2021, which would provide over $600 billion in housing infrastructure; and include in this flexible funding for innovative regional approaches for more equitable housing solutions. This transformational legislation would address the acute shortage of affordable housing and advance equity in the Bay Area and other parts of the country by investing in the creation and preservation of affordable and accessible housing, public housing, and community development, with set-asides for high and persistent poverty communities and measures that improve equitable planning and development processes to affirmatively advance fair housing. In addition, fully funding cross-jurisdictional solutions, such as the Bay Area Housing Finance Authority (BAHFA), within these programs will allow regions and metro areas across the country to elevate a commitment to racial equity, foster innovation to integrate housing solutions with regional transportation and climate strategies, and make each dollar invested in housing goes further than other piecemeal approaches would otherwise accomplish.
  3. Strengthen the Low Income Housing Tax Credit – a crucial tool in the production of affordable housing – by enacting the bipartisan, bicameral Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act (AHCIA). Since its inception in 1986, the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) has built or rehabilitated more than 3.5 million affordable housing units, making it the most successful federal policy to produce affordable rental housing. We thank you for your support of this meaningful tax credit. Today, AHCIA is needed to expand its impact in order to meet the scope of the current affordable housing crisis. AHCIA would help build more than two million new affordable housing units across the country, including 330,000 in California alone, in the next decade by increasing the amount of credits allocated to each state by 50 percent, increasing the number of affordable housing projects that can be built using private activity bonds, and making improvements to the LIHTC to better serve victims of domestic violence, formerly homeless students, Native American communities, veterans, and rural Americans.

Advancing these priorities will spur desperately needed affordable housing production and ensure all residents have access to a safe, affordable place to call home. Thank you for contacting Christa Brown with the San Francisco Foundation so we can further discuss these priorities in the near future.

 

Sincerely,

London Breed
Mayor, City of San Francisco
Sam Liccardo
Mayor, City of San Jose
Libby Schaaf
Mayor, City of Oakland
Tomiquia Moss
Founder & Chief Executive, All Home
Margaret Peterson
CEO,
Catholic Charities East Bay
Monique Berlanga
Interim Executive Director, Centro Legal de La Raza
Malcolm Yeung
Executive Director,
Chinatown Community Development Center
Don Gilmore
Executive Director,
Community Housing Development Corporation
James W. Head
President & CEO,
East Bay Community Foundation
Michael McAfee
President and CEO,
PolicyLink
Priscilla Almodovar
President and CEO,
Enterprise Community Partners
Cindy Wu
Executive Director,
LISC Bay Area
Leslye Corsiglia
Executive Director,
Silicon Valley @ Home
Guillermo Mayer
President & CEO,
Public Advocates
Fred Blackwell
CEO,
San Francisco Foundation
Nicole Taylor
President and CEO,
Silicon Valley Community Foundation
Amie Fishman
Executive Director,
Nonprofit Housing Association of Northern California
Gloria Bruce
Executive Director,
East Bay Housing Organization
Ellen Wu
Executive Director,
Urban Habitat
Alicia John-Baptiste
President and CEO,
SPUR
Omar Carrera
CEO,
Canal Alliance
Debra Gore-Mann
President and CEO,
The Greenlining Institute
Derecka Mehrens
Executive Director,
Working Partnerships USA

 

Bay Area

Value of Marin Agricultural Products Slips 5%

As in past drought years, the resiliency of local farmers, ranchers, and their workforce was noted in the annual report. The lingering COVID-19 pandemic required agricultural producers to find new markets to sell their products to stay viable and handling complicated issues with human resources around their facilities.

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The bright spot in the new crop report was in the aquaculture sector. Tomales Bay shellfish operations experienced increased product demands as restaurants rebounded from the height of the pandemic.
The bright spot in the new crop report was in the aquaculture sector. Tomales Bay shellfish operations experienced increased product demands as restaurants rebounded from the height of the pandemic.

On the positive side, West Marin aquaculture experiences a comeback

Courtesy of Marin County

Agricultural production in Marin County shrunk by 5% in 2021 compared with the previous year, mostly because of the ongoing drought and farmers opting to fallow more of their land.

Assistant Agricultural Commissioner Scott Wise and Inspector Allison Klein presented the 2021 Marin County Crop & Livestock Report to the Marin County Board of Supervisors on June 14. The estimated gross total production value of local products was $96,656,000, down from $101,840,000 in 2020 and wiping out a 4% gain in value between 2019 and 2020. Only three times in history has Marin eclipsed the $100 million mark in annual gross value of agricultural products. The record is $111,061,000 in 2015.

As in past drought years, the resiliency of local farmers, ranchers, and their workforce was noted in the annual report. The lingering COVID-19 pandemic required agricultural producers to find new markets to sell their products to stay viable and handling complicated issues with human resources around their facilities.

“We are now seeing the data that shows the long-term impacts this drought is having on our agricultural industry, such as significant reductions in livestock, exorbitant feed costs, and fallowing of land,” Wise told the Board members. “In 2021, Marin’s share of this megadrought reached critical levels. Due to the lack of precipitation, ponds and wells ran dry and many farmers and ranchers resorted to hauling water to their ag operations. Still, there is only so much water an operation can afford to haul, so many growers had to fallow fields and many ranchers were forced to sell off animals.”

Marin experienced record low rainfall and a second consecutive dry winter, affecting everything from livestock to field crops to fruits and vegetables. It takes years to rebuild a livestock herd for specific traits and genetics, and crop and livestock producers are working hard to build drought resiliency into their operations.

The brightest news in the report came in the area of aquaculture, an important part of the West Marin economy. The total gross value of oysters, mussels, and clams jumped from $3.75 million to $8.2 million, an increase of 119%. The increase was attributed to revitalized demand by consumers after a year of coronavirus lockdowns and restaurant closures in 2020.

On the downside, field crops continued to slip in value because of the drought. The value of hay was down 49%, silage down 43% and harvested pasture down 33% (much of hay and silage are not sold but instead stay on local farms as feed). The total value of field crops fell from $14 million to just over $9 million. Also, fruits & vegetables were down 34% and nursery products went down 25%.

Livestock products led the way by accounting for 41% over the overall gross value of Marin agricultural products. However, the value of cattle was down 13%, slipping from just over $16 million to just under $14 million. Conventional milk production value was up 7% but the organic milk sector – traditionally a strong point for Marin farmers – was down 8%.

Over the past year, 21 Marin ranchers participated in a livestock protection cost-share program to help build and repair fences, purchase and support protection animals, and use scare devices to protect animals from predators. Protected animals include sheep, poultry, goats, cattle, water buffalo, and alpacas.

The annual report includes updates on pest prevention programs, sudden oak death, invasive weed management, and the organic certification program. All Marin County livestock and crop reports are online, including the new one. Reports are sent to the California Department of Food and Agriculture to be included in statewide reports.

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Activism

Juneteenth ’22: California Legislature Recognizes Reparations Task Force

“The task force, without a doubt, is probably one of the most important task forces not only in the state, but this nation, dealing with the horrors of slavery,” said Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Gardena), chair of the California Legislative Black Caucus (CLBC). “This task force is a reflection of California’s leadership and progressive nature that made a commitment to help bridge racial division and advance equity.”

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While honored by the California Legislature, the California Task Force for Reparations members presented the 483-page, Interim Report to lawmakers of the California Legislature Black Caucus. Shown from left to right are attorney Don Tamaki, Senator Maria Elena Durazo, Assemblywoman Lori Wilson, Sen. Steven Bradford, Sen. Sydney Kamlager, attorney Lisa Holder, Dr. Cheryl Grills, Dr. Rev. Amos Brown, attorney Kamilah Moore, Sen. Nancy Skinner, and Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer. CBM photo by Antonio Ray Harvey.
While honored by the California Legislature, the California Task Force for Reparations members presented the 483-page, Interim Report to lawmakers of the California Legislature Black Caucus. Shown from left to right are attorney Don Tamaki, Senator Maria Elena Durazo, Assemblywoman Lori Wilson, Sen. Steven Bradford, Sen. Sydney Kamlager, attorney Lisa Holder, Dr. Cheryl Grills, Dr. Rev. Amos Brown, attorney Kamilah Moore, Sen. Nancy Skinner, and Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer. CBM photo by Antonio Ray Harvey.

By Antonio‌ ‌Ray‌ ‌Harvey‌, California‌ ‌Black‌ ‌Media

Several members of the California Task Force to Study and Develop Reparations Proposals for African Americans received a standing ovation from constituents of the State Legislature last week for their work over the last 12 months.

During the opening of legislative sessions at the State Capitol in Sacramento on June 16, members of the Senate and Assembly participated in the gesture that coincided with the kickoff of the state’s official Juneteenth 2022 commemorations.

“The task force, without a doubt, is probably one of the most important task forces not only in the state, but this nation, dealing with the horrors of slavery,” said Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Gardena), chair of the California Legislative Black Caucus (CLBC). “This task force is a reflection of California’s leadership and progressive nature that made a commitment to help bridge racial division and advance equity.”

Bradford, who was appointed to the task force by Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins, made his remarks on the Senate floor after fellow task force panelist Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles) delivered similar comments in the Assembly chambers.

Seven of the nine task force members and staff from the California Department of Justice (DOJ) were recognized at the event.

Task force members attending the ceremony were Chairperson Kamilah V. Moore, a Los Angeles-based attorney, reparations scholar and activist; Vice Chairman Dr. Amos Brown, a civil rights leader and respected Bay Area pastor whose journey to leadership started under the tutelage of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr in the 1960s; Dr. Cheryl Grills, a professor at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles and Lisa Holder, a nationally recognized trial attorney.

Attorney Don Tamaki, Esq., an attorney best known for his role in the Supreme Court case of Korematsu v. the United States and the only non-Black member of the panel, was also in attendance.

Atkins and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon met briefly with the panel.

Task force members Monica Montgomery Steppe, a San Diego Councilmember and Dr. Jovan Scott Lewis, chair of the Department of Geography at the University of California Berkeley, could not make the trip due to prior commitments.

Several members of the CLBC attended the function, which coincided with the passage of resolution in recognition of the Juneteenth holiday in the Assembly.

Assemblymembers Chris Holden (D-Pasadena), Mia Bonta (D-Alameda), Jim Cooper (D-Elk Grove), Lori Wilson (D-Suisun City), Akila Weber (D-La Mesa), Mike Gipson (D-Carson) and CLBC vice-chair Sen. Sydney Kamlager (D-Los Angeles) showed up to support the task force members’ efforts.

The Task Force first convened on June 1, 2021, to conduct an examination of the lasting consequences of discrimination against freed slaves and their descendants.

Under Assembly Bill (AB) 3121, authored by then-Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, who is currently Secretary of State of California, the nine-member panel is charged with making recommendations for how the state can compensate Black Californians who are descendants of enslaved African Americans.

On June 1, the task force released its first interim report, a 483-page document compiled by the California Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Enforcement Section.

“The information in the interim report reveals uncovered facts about incidents that disproportionately and negatively affected Black Californians in California for 170-plus years and the country for the last 400 years,” Grills said.

“Until we have a reckoning with the truth, we cannot understand who we are as a nation. When we then begin to have that kind of reckoning, I think the specific manifestation of the harm will be easier to deal with and we will actually have an opportunity for transformative change,” Grills continued.

Over the next 12 months, Moore told California Black Media (CBM) that the task force will focus on bringing increased awareness for the interim report, community engagement, and formulating a framework of how California should compensate around 2 to 2.6 million Black Californians.

“It’s important that the California Legislature understand how important this effort is,” Moore told CBM. “This past year we’ve been working incredibly hard. The next (12 months) I categorized it as the development stage where the nine-member task force has substantive and intentional conversations about what reparations should look like.”

Video link of Sen. Steven Bradford and Dr. Cheryl Grills at the state capitol in Sacramento:  .California Task Force For Reparations at State Capitol 6.16.2022

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Bay Area

Alameda County Sheriff Greg Ahern Lost Re-Election: But Mailer Falsely Invoking Latino Voice Bears Watching

Traditionally, PACs form to support a candidate with more money than allowed by the conventional political contribution means. It seems the group called United Latinos Vote (ULV) was created with the intention of not only donating thousands of dollars to the Ahern’s re-election but also falsely insinuating that the money came from Latinos.

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Since the early 1970s, numerous Oakland Latino groups have been actively involved in supporting campaigns that reflected our concerns and interests. Many times, while volunteering our time to campaign, we were successful in including our issues on candidates’ platforms.
Since the early 1970s, numerous Oakland Latino groups have been actively involved in supporting campaigns that reflected our concerns and interests. Many times, while volunteering our time to campaign, we were successful in including our issues on candidates’ platforms.

By Mariano Contreras

The results of the June 7 primary election sent a message to Sheriff Gregory Ahern: Alameda County residents wanted change and desired reform. Candidate Yesenia Sanchez, although outspent by Ahern, received 52.05% to his 32.28% of the vote and will now be Alameda County’s new sheriff.

But the contest gave rise to a disingenuous new Political Action Committee (PAC) that worked for the re-election of Ahern. On May 10, a group called United Latinos Vote (ULV) spent $40,000 on a mailer supporting Ahern’s re-election. The Oakland Police Officers Association (OPOA) contributed $25,000, making them the largest donor to this PAC.

Traditionally, PACs form to support a candidate with more money than allowed by the conventional political contribution means. It seems ULV was created with the intention of not only donating thousands of dollars to the Ahern’s re-election but also falsely insinuating that the money came from Latinos.

But investigation shows that the ULV PAC has no record of ever speaking in favor or against police reform in Oakland or supporting any other local and/or Latino campaigns.

Safe neighborhoods, peaceful streets, and accountable police departments have always been priorities for Oakland Latinos. In pursuing public safety, we have also presented a diverse spectrum of sentiments and ideas based on principle and truth.

Since the early 1970s, numerous Oakland Latino groups have been actively involved in supporting campaigns that reflected our concerns and interests. Many times, while volunteering our time to campaign, we were successful in including our issues on candidates’ platforms.

As a result, we formed advocacy groups made up of longtime activists and initiated candidate forums that spoke to our Latino community. The Latino Task Force began out of this effort, and we have involved ourselves in every election cycle since the 2016 general election. We have a history and connection to Oakland.

What has ULV done in Alameda County? What have they done in Oakland?

Alameda County’s Latino population borders 23% and, by many accounts, was not friendly to an Ahern re-election. It was most opportune and worrisome that a “Latino” PAC accepted money from a group blind to Latino issues when a formidable and qualified Latina candidate decided to run for sheriff.

The OPOA has never shown any interest in addressing issues important to Latino officers such as the lack of high-ranking Latino officers or the disproportionate discipline of Latino officers in the Oakland Police Department.

Now OPOA wanted to conveniently ally itself with a new and suspect Latino group that ignores many years of opposition to the broken, heavy-handed Sheriff’s Department and the brutal mismanagement of the county’s Santa Rita Jail.

We reject this devious and failed attempt at misleading the Latino electorate! Our effort to engage our community should be grounded in trust, involvement, and knowledge of our issues, not opportunistic gamesmanship.

Mariano Contreras is a member of the Latino Task Force.

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