All posts tagged: housing

A Foundation for Life – Habitat for Humanity

A friend of mine got lost in Martinez recently and stopped at a building site off Pacheco Boulevard to get his bearings. “Man, I want to come back here and shoot pictures of this place,” he told me. I stole his idea. This is what we call story development at BayMozaic.  I contacted Erin Spaulding at Habitat for Humanity East Bay/Silicon Valley (EBSV) to ask about the Muir Ridge development. She told me the project matched a natural need for affordable housing in the far reaches of the East Bay, as housing costs have gone up across Alameda, Contra Costa and Santa Clara Counties. In an area where land is hard to come by, Habitat for Humanity EBSV was able to take over an existing development site in unincorporated Martinez. They broke ground a year ago and will complete the second phase of building twenty homes in late May 2016. Most of us have heard about Habitat for Humanity, and I was curious about Erin’s personal and emotional connection with the organization. Erin Spaulding: I …

Bay Housing Roundup: Organize for Change

In the last three weeks I’ve made my way around the bay attending discussions on the housing crisis here. It’s a topic we keep raising on BayMozaic, a topic that won’t disappear until solutions take root. Here’s a roundup based on my latest road trip of citizen advocate, expert and government views from Richmond, Concord/Walnut Creek and San Francisco. (Also making headlines in the last few weeks, Oakland made affordable housing part of its deal to bring Uber to town and it also passed its Housing Equity Roadmap.) Concord/Walnut Creek: Push the Municipalities “Land use is a local decision,” said Mariko Yamada, former California Assemblywoman at a recent meeting of the Diablo Valley Democratic Club. The housing crisis, in large part, gets solved at home by showing up and voicing opinions at local councils. It’s about organizing. Yamada was filling in for a canceled speaker. As a past member of the Assembly’s Housing and Community Development Committee and Chair of the Assembly Aging and Long Term Care Committee, she made a formative stand-in. With maps …

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Cross-Cultural Unity for Decent Housing

Lessons from fights past can stir us to continue pressing for housing rights. In the late 1990s, a mixed immigrant community banded together and won a lawsuit against an Oakland slumlord.  On Saturday, Locally Grown Docs at the New Parkway Theater screened Oak Park, a short film chronicling the struggles of largely Cambodian and Mexican tenants in Oakland’s San Antonio neighborhood against extreme property negligence.  They won their suit in 2000, and the film wrapped in 2010. But the housing struggle in a landlord’s market resonates strongly today. Oak Park, named after the collapsing Oakland apartment complex, documents the abject conditions tenants fought to resolve. These included rot, infestation, leaks, mold and their ensuing health consequences. In multiple languages, tenants recount waking up in puddles of raw sewage. (The production required ample translation to capture voices from a microcosm of Oakland’s most diverse neighborhood). Watching the battle, I was both humbled and inspired that these tenants fought back in spite — or in the face — of traumas and fears from their different immigrant experiences. During …

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Housing Leader Takes the Helm

The debut of evening rain in the Bay marked the debut of Gloria Bruce as executive director of East Bay Housing Organizations (EBHO). Supporters and the curious, including me, came out to meet her and party with the EBHO staff and board. I could hear them from around the corner, as board members extolled Bruce and the crowd cheered statements for urgent solutions to Bay’s crushing housing crisis. Oakland’s Mayor Libby Schaaf also turned out for the festivities. Building strong communities starts at home. Bruce thanked her wife and gave a shout out to her two boys as the foundation of home. She also cited her father, a Washington, DC native like Bruce, as inspiration in shaping her stance on advancing cities where people “are not lost.” Two paths brought me to EBHO. First, its encyclopedic policy director Jeffrey Levin generously helped me in my research for the Zero 2016 campaign to end chronic homelessness in Contra Costa County. Second, in my accidental conversation with him, Representative Mark DeSaulnier referred me to EBHO as a …

Congressman, can you please fix this housing thing?

I thought I would sit in the back and listen to the Congressman talk at us. I came to hear Congressman Mark DeSaulnier tell us what was up and what he planned to do about it. Sitting back passively was my idea of participation. But I’d come to the wrong event. This was the Congressman’s “mobile district office hours” which meant each one waiting in the library lobby would have a one-on-one opportunity to air grievances, request help, chat. Now I understood why the freshly showered guy next to me held a dossier, and why the lady next to him clung to a thick packet of paper with sticky notes. They had real business to discuss. I had not come to a town hall. I reread the flyer I picked up on the way in: Congressman DeSaulnier will be available to share thoughts and to answer questions on federal legislation, and to assist with issues related to Social Security, the Veteran’s Administration, passports, or other federal agencies. Well, why not? I had questions and thoughts. …

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Finding Shelter in the Storm

Imagine trying to find an affordable place to live in San Francisco. Imagine you are homeless, or close to it, and trying to find one. You are a carpenter with multiple sclerosis who can no longer afford your rent. You are an under-employed worker who lost your apartment of 30 years when the landlord passed away. You are a family struggling to stay together and stay housed. Since 1981, Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation has been providing affordable housing and services for low-income people in the Tenderloin and other San Francisco neighborhoods. Now, it has 30 buildings for 3,000 of the poorest residents and continues to grow. In addition to housing, it integrates services, including afterschool programs, social work, community organizing and a community garden, services that keep people in their homes. For some residents, TNDC has provided the strength and motivation to give back. TNDC does this all in the face of an economic storm: a drastic drop in funding for housing, more people in need, and a staggering rise in real estate costs in …

Where the Heart Is

Home is physical, a built structure, a roof, four walls, a web. Home is a place at the table, nourishment. Yet, home remains a mere dream for those who experience its absolute absence. Many in the Bay Area find themselves homeless. In the months ahead, we will explore the ways people and organizations in the Bay are trying to make headway to house more people who need it. We’ll also take a closer look at displacement, the byproduct of gentrification and the yawning gap between income and housing costs here.  Laura McCamy of OaklandLocal has been covering the issue as it plays out in Oakland and Alameda County.  At yesterday’s SPUR event, the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) shared highlights and findings from its State of the Region, chronicling the growing pressures on transit and housing, and the promise and downside of employment trends. BayMozaic will circle back to the report in the weeks ahead. Behind every set of statistics lives a methodology, and more importantly, thousands of stories of lives affected. (Haleh, photos …