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Invest in Equity to Meet California’s Housing and Community Needs

Dec 11, 2021 | 4mins

Housing Now!

Credit: Housing Now!

Across California, strong and impactful community leaders and organizations have been working toward housing justice for thriving communities for decades, applying the lessons they’ve learned along the way to make their movements more inclusive, just, and visionary.

At Fund for an Inclusive California, we believe housing justice and equitable development are a crucial part of our bold vision for communities to have the power to shape their own neighborhoods and experience joy, equity, and well-being while accessing an affordable, safe, and stable place to call home.

In recent years, the state’s housing market has become unjust and unsustainable, denying access disproportionately to low-income people and Black and Indigenous people of color. Developers and other new corporate and investment capital treat housing as an extractive tool for investment in the financial market, driven by profit and speculation.

California’s community leaders are building power to transform their communities and pushing state elected officials to follow suit. The state prides itself for leading on issues of equity and justice, yet California’s decision makers have failed to take sufficient action for housing justice.

Statewide community leaders are organizing in Sacramento as well as in cities and counties across California to enact policies that center residents and their needs as opposed to developers and speculators. The Community Advisors whose lead we follow organize in communities that lack strong tenant protections where residents are most vulnerable.

Housing Now! and its diverse coalition of community groups, labor unions, and tenants associations are advancing eviction protection legislation to keep people and families in their homes as well as legislation that preserves existing affordable housing and improves access to affordable housing for Californians whose income or background may pose a barrier.

Underpinning the coalition’s legislative advocacy is a bold, north star vision for housing justice and equitable development in California. This vision centers the needs of low-income people and Black, Indigenous, and people of color who have long experienced racism and discrimination. Housing Now! and its partners are strengthening civic participation to scale up community resources and investment, while shifting power away from real estate special interests who have undue influence on how housing policies and practices are implemented.

Elements of community leaders’ vision are embodied by five key principles signed onto by dozens of state and local organizations including Housing Now!. These principles1 include the need to protect communities vulnerable to displacement; respect the voices of those who have been historically disenfranchised; and preserve and strengthen state and local policies that promote fair and affordable housing.

Fund for an Inclusive California supported the funding of our campaign to end financial speculation in land and housing,” said Rae Huang, Senior Organizer with Housing Now!. “Our coalition members often ask: what can we do to transform the situation we’re in? Communities are looking for bigger structural changes, and one path is to follow the money to understand where the power lies. We want to reclaim our own land, and create housing for ourselves, our families, and our neighbors.

California has the opportunity to lead the nation in housing justice and thriving communities. For this to become a reality, we at F4ICA are committed to joining with fellow funders to strengthen statewide leaders’ capacity for advocacy paired with increased investments in stronger local organizing infrastructure that will add up to a powerful and lasting statewide coalition that works to meet the needs of communities across the state.

1 These principles were adapted from a sign-on letter to California Gov. Gavin Newsom, Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins, and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon; dated June 17, 2021.