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Los Angeles Moves Toward Its Housing Justice North Star

Dec 11, 2021 | 4mins

ACT-LA marching for tenants rights

ACT-LA marching for tenants rights

F4ICA Supports Increased Regional Coordination and Partnerships

Organizers in Los Angeles have decades of experience building power to transform their communities and improve the lives of Black, Indigenous, and people of color across LA County.

But too often, these changes can feel incremental because groups only have capacity to respond to challenges as they arise and from within issue-based silos such as education, jobs, or health. Philanthropy typically funds in these silos, limiting communities’ access to resources for cross-sectoral organizing and advocacy.

The LA-based Community Advisors the Fund works in close partnership with raised the need for a planning retreat1 that would bring groups together and build relationships to coalesce in a broad, shared vision for housing justice and equitable development.

We resourced and helped convene the LA planning retreat in late 2019 to support groups to get clear on their north star vision for housing justice that continues to guide Community Advisors today. Their vision states:

All poor, working class, and people of color in LA County live in high quality housing that is affordable and within stable, healthy, resilient, accessible, and vibrant communities.” The vision includes the need to address root causes: “to transform the causes of the housing affordability crisis, it will be necessary to craft, refine, and advance scaled strategies to decommodify housing.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, these established relationships and existence of the north star positioned LA groups to respond with greater coordination and a bold, big-picture vision to increased health, economic, and housing challenges.

In 2020, LA groups came together to advocate for Project Roomkey, which allowed Californians made vulnerable by the pandemic to access affordable housing in hotels and motels. In 2021, some of these LA groups established the Los Angeles Acquisition/Rehabilitation Working Group in partnership with Los Angeles Community Land Trust Coalition (LACLTC), affordable housing developers, Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, and Enterprise Community Partners.

The working group secured $14M in public funding to resource social housing strategies focused on community land trusts, received additional philanthropic funding, and successfully advanced policy changes to work toward tenant ownership through the CLT model.

Many of these groups also joined in a recent 2021 campaign to ‘Keep LA housed’ which included advocating for the extension of COVID-19 eviction protections and urging the County Board of Supervisors to enact debt relief for renters hit hard by multiple crises.

Moving beyond the immediate response to the current crisis,” said Cynthia Strathmann, SAJE Executive Director and an F4ICA Community Advisor, “we are expanding just recovery efforts and leveraging relationships between F4ICA grantees to develop communications and organizing infrastructure. These relationships enhance our organizing and communications capacity and strengthen our ability to run a well-developed, collective campaign to de-commodify housing.

“A lot of the conversation we had at the cabin retreat [LA convening] still stands but is even more important now,” reflected Laura Raymond, ACT-LA Director and an F4ICA Community Advisor. “We are building a long-term movement and staying grounded in grassroots community needs, while working towards the north star around housing and transit justice.

We directed funds to Community Advisors and their organizations to ensure they had necessary resources during a time of heightened need and urgency. The Fund recognized the importance of convenings, facilitating relationship building, and activating pooled funding to ensure leaders and organizations successfully scaled organizing, advocacy, and power building.

We will keep listening to Community Advisors and share our lessons with philanthropic peers across LA and statewide.

1 Final Report, Fund For An Inclusive California Los Angeles Grantee Cohort Planning Retreat, December 2019.