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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

 

Activism

East Oakland Community Clean-up

The office of Councilmember Treva Reid invites you to…

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Oakland Clean Up Flyer

The Oakland Post’s coverage of local news in Alameda County is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support community newspapers across California.

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Bay Area

Sept. 11, 2001, 20 years later: ‘Remembrance’ held aboard the USS Hornet Sea, Space & Air Museum

The USS Hornet Sea, Space & Air Museum, moored at the City of Alameda, hosted a “Remembrance” ceremony of the events of Sept. 11, 2001, on board the ship on the 20th anniversary, Sept. 11, 2021.

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U.S. Marine Corps Honor Guard, 23rd Marine Regiment: Sgt. Tristan Garivay, Sgt. Michael Her, Cpl. Adrian Chavez and Cpl. Quentavious Leeks. Photo by Russell Moore, USS Hornet Sea, Air & Space Museum, Community Events & Outreach

Quintin Jones, Colonel, USMC, Commanding Officer, 23rd Marine Regiment. Photo by Russell Moore, USS Hornet Sea, Air & Space Museum, Community Events & Outreach

The USS Hornet Sea, Space & Air Museum, moored at the City of Alameda, hosted a “Remembrance” ceremony of the events of Sept. 11, 2001, on board the ship on the 20th anniversary, Sept. 11, 2021.

The ceremony recognized the impact and consequences of the series of airline hijackings and suicide attacks committed on 2001 by 19 militants associated with the Islamic extremist group al-Queda against targets in New York City and Wash., D.C. Nearly 3,000 people died that day and 6,000 were injured.  This was the deadliest terrorist attack on American soil in U.S. history. 

The ceremony aboard the USS Hornet began with the presentation of the colors by the U.S. Marine Corps Honor Guard, 23rd Marine Regiment. (Pictured above.)

Leon Watkins, co-founder of The Walking Ghosts of Black History, was the Master of Ceremonies. He spoke about the extensive death and destruction which triggered the enormous U.S. effort to combat terrorism.

Daniel Costin, a special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, spoke of the lasting impact of 9/11 terrorists attack on first responders. He recounted incidents where first responders rushed into the scenes of the attacks, many at the sacrifice of their own lives. More than 400 police officers and firefighters were killed that day: 343 members of the New York City Fire Department and 71 members of their law enforcement agencies.

Quintin Jones, Colonel, USMC, commanding officer of the 23rd Marine Regiment, spoke about the recovery efforts at the Pentagon following the terrorists’ attack where 125 people perished. He reflected on the actions of three first responders who recovered the U.S. Marine Corps flag from the commandant of the Marine Corps’ office at the Pentagon. This flag was still standing after the attack. It was a symbol of America’s resolve.

At the end of the formal presentations, the Marine Corps Wreath Bearers went to the fantail of the Hornet. After the playing of ‘Taps,’ they tossed a wreath into the San Francisco Bay to give final honors.

The Oakland Post’s coverage of local news in Alameda County is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support community newspapers across California.

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Community

Many in Black Communities are Choosing Vaccination 

Inequities in health outcomes have always been with us. COVID-19 morbidity and mortality rates among African Americans rival or exceed those in heart disease, diabetes and other illnesses. Blacks sit atop most bad lists and at the bottom of most good lists. 

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Vaccination/Photo Courtesy of Shutterstock

The trail of illness and death left amid the spread of COVID-19 in Black and African American communities should come as no surprise.

Inequities in health outcomes have always been with us. COVID-19 morbidity and mortality rates among African Americans rival or exceed those in heart disease, diabetes and other illnesses. Blacks sit atop most bad lists and at the bottom of most good lists.

COVID-19 vaccinations offer us an opportunity to better balance the scale.

Unfortunately, even with widely available testing, highly effective vaccines, and extraordinary efforts by health departments to educate and encourage people of color to get vaccinated, many Black Californians remain skeptical.

We can only hope that the FDA’s full regulatory approval of the Pfizer vaccine on August 23 for those 16 and up convinces more to get the vaccine.  It’s worth noting that emergency-use authorization also remains in place for the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson shots, as well as Pfizer’s for 12- to 15-year-olds – and that all of these vaccines are safe and effective in protecting against COVID-19 and its highly contagious variants.

Eddie Fairchild and Steph Sanders were skeptical about the COVID-19 vaccine but came to understand why vaccination benefits our entire community.

Fairchild, a Sacramento insurance agent, said he knew of research that found Black and white people are often treated differently for the same health conditions leading to poorer health outcomes.

“I was hesitant,” he said. “I was going to wait and see how it panned out with everyone else.

But when a Black friend in the health care field told him he’d opted to get vaccinated, Fairchild asked him why.

“He said, ‘Risk-reward, and the risk is death.’ At that point I didn’t have to ask him what the reward was.”

With a finance degree and a belief that numbers don’t lie, Fairchild looked at the data. He learned that until 2020 the average number of Americans who died each year was about 2.6 million, but in 2020 that figure was 3.4 million. There was only one possible explanation for the death rate surge, he said.

“COVID is absolutely real,” he said, adding that three of his cousins died from the virus. “Taking all that into consideration, I decided that it’s risky to engage in the world and not be vaccinated. It made sense for me to get it.”

Racial gaps in vaccination have thankfully narrowed in recent weeks. But as of September 1, while Black people account for 6% of the state’s population, they account for 6.6% of COVID-19 deaths, which is 11% higher than the statewide rate, according to state department of public health data. Only about 55% of Black people in California have had at least one dose of the vaccine.

Reasons for the discrepancies run the gamut, from conspiracy theories like Black people are getting a less effective vaccine than whites or that the vaccine will eventually be deadly, to challenges in health care access. 

Mostly, it’s based on a lack of trust in medical and scientific institutions, which have a long history of racism and mistreating Black people.

So even when it comes to good things like vaccines, which are scientifically proven to be good for the community, it always comes back to trust.

Sanders, a Vallejo school principal, was hesitant because of the Tuskegee syphilis studies in which Black men who had the disease were intentionally not treated with penicillin. And he was dubious that an effective vaccine could be developed so quickly. 

In fact, the science and technology enabling development of the COVID-19 vaccines was in development for a more than decade before the virus emerged in 2020. The FDA authorized three vaccines for emergency use after they underwent a rigorous process and were proven through trials to be safe and effective at preventing severe COVID-19, hospitalization, and death.

He decided to get vaccinated when his school board decided last spring to bring students back into classrooms.

Today, he’s a fervent vaccine advocate. He holds “lunch and learn” forums for educators, encouraging vaccination.

“I’m a leader and people are relying on my knowledge,” he said. “I tell them, ‘Don’t make this about you, but about the people you love and care about. It’s about protecting them.’”

There is still a long way to go before Blacks achieve true health equity, but vaccination against a virus that is taking a terrible toll on our communities is a critical step in the right direction.

 

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