The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking. - Albert Einstein
Dear Friends, Partners, and Allies,
The world looks very different right now, and even as we start to transition back to some version of normalcy, our way of thinking and behaving is likely forever changed. For the good of our family, friends, neighbors, and even strangers, we have had to consider the impact of our actions and understand that the health of our community is only as good as the health of its most vulnerable members.
This shift offers some hope -- that we can also change the way we think about, and act upon, other societal challenges to create meaningful change in the lives of our fellow Californians. It offers hope that our state and federal leaders will make the kinds of bold reforms and investments that will bring housing and homelessness solutions to scale, because the problems are that big, more and more people are struggling, and we can’t wait any longer.
May is Affordable Housing Month, and it also marks 5 million unemployment claims in California, inevitably swelling the number of households at risk of losing their homes and even falling into homelessness. But the public health crisis has demonstrated that California’s residents and leaders have the moral compass, creative spirit, and bold thinking necessary to confront unprecedented challenges.
So let’s take the opportunity to reimagine a California that is more just, inclusive, and equitable, and let’s make it happen together.
The pandemic has left every state wrestling with mounting expenses, dwindling state income, and the immediate and dire needs of their residents, especially those experiencing homelessness and housing insecurity. Here in California, we worked with our statewide coalition of housing advocates to send a letter to the California Congressional Delegation supporting detailed recommendations from the National Low-Income Housing Alliance (NLIHC) and National Alliance to End Homelessness(NAEH).
Many of the items in our coalition budget request were included in the “Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions” (HEROES) Act recently passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, including $100 billion in emergency rental assistance through the Emergency Rental Assistance and Rental Market Stabilization Act, $11.5 billion to prevent and respond to outbreaks among people experiencing homelessness, a national moratorium on evictions and foreclosures, and 100,000 new emergency housing vouchers.
Housing and homelessness resources must be a top priority in the next coronavirus relief package. If you agree and are ready to take action, then email your representative and senators today. Please also take a moment to thank Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Chair Maxine Waters, Chair David Price, Representative Denny Heck, and all original cosponsors of the Emergency Rental Assistance and Rental Market Stabilization Act for prioritizing #RentReliefNow and homeless assistance funding in the House bill.
Here’s a sample tweet:
Thank you @SenSherrodBrown, @RepDennyHeck, @RepMaxineWaters for introducing a bill providing $100B in emergency #rentalassistance to stably house America’s lowest-income renters. #RentReliefNow. Thank you @SpeakerPelosi for your leadership in the face of unprecedented challenges.
As the California lead for the Opportunity Starts at Home Campaign, Housing California continues to cultivate a broad-based multi sector alliance to support and promote evidence-based solutions addressing the housing and homelessness challenges both in the near and long-term. Learn more about this movement and join the fight to end homelessness and housing instability.
TRANSFORMING STATE POLICY - Pivoting to Meet the Moment
Affordable Housing and Homelessness Framework in the COVID-19 Reality
On May 13, Housing California and our statewide and regional affordable housing advocacy partners released a new Affordable Housing and Homelessness Framework. The Framework includes four core principles designed to help the Legislature think holistically about solutions to the affordable housing and homelessness challenges before us in this new COVID-19 context. It also includes a package of immediate and long-term budget asks and bills that would advance these principles.
Our State Budget Proposal Tackling Homelessness
On May 14, Governor Newsom unveiled his revision to the State Budget. Read Housing California’s response.
Together with the Big City Mayors, Los Angeles County, and the Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH), Housing California is co-leading a coalition that delivered a revised budget proposal to enhance Governor Newsom’s May Revision on homelessness Read our latest proposal here.
Promoting Game-Changing Legislation
Housing California is sponsoring and supporting bills that will make structural and systemic changes and advance evidence-based housing and homelessness solutions. You will likely hear more about these bills in the coming weeks.
AB 1845 - Assembly Bill 1845 (L. Rivas): creates a cabinet-level position and an office within the Governor’s Office, charged with reducing homelessness. On June 2, the Assembly Appropriations Committee will be hearing AB 1845. Please consider sending a letter of support today.
AB 2329 - Assembly Bill 2329 (Chiu): requires the State to do a needs and gaps assessment of state programs that provide housing or services to people experiencing homelessness to better inform statewide strategies.
AB 3300 - Assembly Bill 3300 (Santiago): provides $2 billion annually to address homelessness through rental assistance, operating subsidies, services, and capital for supportive and affordable housing development.
Proposing Bold, Sensible Approaches to Housing Preservation
Housing California and our Residents United Network (RUN) are working with partners across the state to advance policy solutions that will prevent widespread displacement, foreclosures, and the widening of the racial wealth gap that we saw as a result of the Great Recession of 2008 by taking housing off the speculative market and creating affordable housing for the long-term.
Two RUN members shared their stories with Bloomberg Law as part of a campaign to prevent the displacement that millions of Californians experienced during the 2008 recession, and Housing California’s Executive Director Lisa Hershey co-authored an op-ed focused on lessons learned and the importance of implementing a statewide strategy to buy and stabilize existing properties where low-income tenants are at risk of displacement.
Housing California is collaborating with advocates, researchers, and multi-sector partners to develop a “Marshall Plan” for statewide housing and homelessness solutions. This 10-year blueprint with a framework of solutions will illustrate how, with the right solutions and the will, we can create a California with homes for all. Learn more in this feature article from HousingWire and in this op-ed in Cal Matters by Housing California’s Executive Director, Lisa Hershey, and California Housing Partnership’s CEO, Matt Schwartz. Visit www.roadmaphomeca.org/.
CONNECTING THE FIELD STATEWIDE
Residents United Building its Network
The momentum at RUN has been building! More than 65 members have joined at least one weekly Community Care call since they started on April 1. After weeks of building virtual connections with each other, RUN took action for affordable housing multiple times this month. In May, RUN emailed every member of the Assembly Housing Committee during a Wednesday call, and members with more tech knowledge supported others who are still learning.
At the end of April, RUN added three working groups to prepare for future advocacy, focused on three different campaigns: homelessness, preventing the displacement of 2008 in 2020, and protecting affordable housing residents from eviction while helping affordable developers keep the lights on. On smaller Zoom calls with 4 to 12 people, leaders brainstorm next steps and debrief actions before reporting back with an ask or an action during the larger Community Care calls on Wednesdays. We also held our first Spanish language Community Care call in May.
Sign up for RUN updates here and like RUN on Facebook here.
A 2020 Census Update
As of April 30, the response rate in California was down by more than 10% from the final 2010 count (Source: CalMatters). While the coronavirus outbreak and the census moving online for the first time may have deterred folks from participating, the drumbeat to collect the information continues. Be sure to complete your 2020 Census form today, and encourage family, friends, and neighbors to complete theirs.
The California Census campaign recently shared a tweet with inspiring words from renowned poet, Porsche Kelly, about the value and importance of participating in the Census. Check it out!
Schools and Communities First Lifts Up Vote By Mail
Ensuring vote-by-mail for California is crucial to the success of the Schools and Communities First (SCF) campaign. Thus, we were thrilled to learn Governor Newsom will make it possible for every California voter to receive a vote-by-mail ballot for the November 3, 2020, General Election. Vote-by-mail and safe polling locations will ensure that voting is easy so everyone can participate, including groups that have been historically marginalized and disenfranchised, such as people with disabilities and people experiencing homelessness. Find more election and voter information here, and learn more about Schools and Communities First.
Disability Rights and Affordable Housing
The serious lack of affordable, accessible, and community-based integrated housing severely impacts people with disabilities. On May 19, Housing California, Disability Rights California, and The Kelsey hosted a Twitter Chat to elevate housing issues impacting people with disabilities, debunk myths that can prevent real change, and share ideas and resources. The open discussion aimed to move us closer to a place where all people have the affordable, accessible, and inclusive housing they need. Check out #HousingAccess4All. A blog sharing the full conversation is also available for you to read.
Highlighting May as Affordable Housing Month
In many parts of California, housing advocacy organizations recognize and celebrate May as Affordable Housing Month. In some regions, like the San Francisco Bay Area, they host public events, engage legislators, and promote political action. We thank our partner, Nonprofit Housing Association of Northern California (NPH), who produced a great communications toolkit can be used to raise awareness and support. You will find lots of helpful resources. Check it out!
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