Closing Words of Gratitude, Grace, and Inspiration from our Executive Director
Lisa Hershey | Executive Director "Take just a few minutes to walk with me down this path, which you helped navigate and co-create with us."
Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to reflect on the state of our country and the state of our state since I became Housing CA’s executive director three years ago, to take stock of where we are today as 2019 comes to a close, and to think about how to spring forward for the greatest impact in 2020 and beyond.
Reflect Back – In November 2016, our country elected Donald Trump. Last week, the House of Representatives voted to impeach him. During this period, California has struggled with national politics and harmful federal policy, yet we have soared with creating transformational change in our own state. More specifically, we have collectively achieved unprecedented success in moving the levers that I refer to as the 3B’s in extraordinary ways:
2017: Bills - The year of unprecedented legislation, with 23 bills passed by the legislature and signed into law by then Governor Brown.
2018: Ballot - The year of statewide ballot success, resulting in $6 billion in bonds for affordable and supportive housing.
2019: Budget - The year of the largest general fund budget investments in California’s recent history, including $2.7 billion directed towards housing and homelessness by Governor Newsom and the Legislature.
Take Stock of Where We Are Now – Now is the time to collectively “lean into” the Governor’s vision to create a California For All. Housing California’s vision to create a California with homes and prosperity for all in vibrant, inclusive and sustainable communities aligns with, and I would offer, nestles beautifully into, the Governor’s vision. To reach for our shared vision and achieve greatest impact, we must stay on course with our 3 strategic directions:
Reframe the dominant narrative among policymakers about housing and homelessness.
Shift and build power through multi-sector coalitions and community organizing networks.
Change policy through targeted, strategic advocacy.
Spring Forward in 2020 and Beyond – The time is now to turn all three B levers (bills, budget, and ballot) on high and bring our “A” Game. Broad public support, coupled with political will, has created the environment for the collective “we” of government, residents, non-profits, philanthropy, business, and other sectors to think, act, and do business differently. 2020 brings a huge opportunity with the Census, the presidential election, local and regional initiatives, and the Schools and Communities First Act to create the change we want to see in the world, or at least in California.
Before I close, I wish to pause and offer my deepest gratitude to our amazing Board of Directors(pictured below), phenomenal team, incredible Residents United Network leaders, funders, and many partners who make all this work possible. We wish you a healthy, peaceful, and prosperous holiday season.
In the Building: Housing and Homelessness Policy Update
Christopher Martin | Legislative Advocate, Homelessness "The Governor and Legislature have made it clear that homelessness and affordable housing will continue to be major priorities for them in the coming year."
This year, Governor Newsom and the Legislature took significant strides in addressing the affordable housing and homelessness challenges that California faces through both budgetary and legislative actions.
Among those was SB 329, a bill that Senator Holly Mitchell brilliantly carried and Housing CA was pleased to co-sponsor with our partners. SB 329 adds housing assistance as a protected source of income and prevents landlords from discriminating against people holding a housing voucher. The Governor signed this bill into law at a history-making signing ceremony on October 8th (below), along with a Housing California supported bill, AB 1482 (Chiu), which caps rent increases and provides much needed eviction protections for tenants.
Building off of historic investment in the year prior, Governor Newsom and the Legislature took a step further by dedicating over $2.7 billion to address affordable housing and homelessness in the 2019 budget. The budget included key Housing CA priorities – a $500 million expansion of the State’s Low Income Housing Tax Credit program and an investment of $650 million into the Homeless Housing, Assistance, and Prevention Program (HHAP). HHAP provides resources to local jurisdictions for evidence-based models of housing. The budget also saw a major policy change with the addition of a requirement that low-barrier, housing first navigation centers be a development by-right.
The Governor and Legislature have made it clear that homelessness and affordable housing will continue to be major priorities for them in the coming year. Housing California will continue to advocate that our state prioritizes those struggling the most. Our work in 2020 will include: advancing our 2-year bills – SB 282 (Beall), SB 316 (Mitchell), SCA 1 (Allen), and ACA 1 (Aguiar-Curry); advocating for continued investment in housing and homelessness through the budget; and ensuring equitable implementation of affordable housing and homelessness programs.
Legislative Advocate Luke Villalobos Joins Our Team!
Luke started at Housing CA this month as our legislative advocate for land use and finance. We are excited for the enthusiasm and skill he brings to our work. Learn more about Luke.
On the Ground: Residents United Network
Tori Truscheit | Lead Statewide Organizer
Jazmin Posas | Program Associate
"...our coalition, made up of regional partner organizations, residents of affordable housing, and the nonprofit developers, is poised to become an even stronger force next year."
In 2019, RUN members fought hard and built power, and we’re energized for a big push to get everyone in California housed in 2020. With strong support from Community Change, RUN is now in seven regions across the state, and our coalition, made up of regional partner organizations, residents of affordable housing, and the nonprofit developers, is poised to become an even stronger force next year.
Our “Super Leaders” planned and led Lobby Day in the Capitol in April, then everyone advocated for three bills over the rest of the year. We called, emailed, sent snail-mail, and showed up in person to make our presence known across the state. We visited legislators in their districts so they knew their constituents care about building much more affordable housing and ending homelessness. In August, RUN leaders met with staff at the Governor’s office for the first time, making the case for AB 10, a permanent source of funding for affordable housing. That bill didn’t pass, but another of RUN’s three bills did: SB 329, which prohibits discrimination against people using housing vouchers to pay rent.
This fall, RUN held 10 convenings across the state to brainstorm for 2020, and leaders came up with 181 ideas through the “There Ought To Be A Law” process. We cheered as Joyce Roberts of San Diego and Willie Stevens of Oakland joined the Housing California Board of Directors in November. Finally, senior and emerging leaders gathered in the Bay Area in December (above) to narrow down RUN’s priorities for next year, and we’ll launch three campaigns at our regional convenings in February!
From the Courtrooms
David Zisser | Associate Director "...cities cannot make it a crime for people experiencing homelessness to sleep outdoors."
On the legal front, we were proud to partner with Public Advocates and other allies to win a decision in the Sixth District Court of Appeals to require the City of San Jose and California’s other 120 charter cities to abide by the Surplus Land Act (a law that requires municipalities to prioritize their land for building affordable homes before selling it to companies or other entities). This ruling impacts the largest metropolitan areas in the state, as Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco and Oakland are all, like San Jose, charter cities.
We were also thrilled to see the decision from the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which ruled that cities cannot make it a crime for people experiencing homelessness to sleep outdoors. The Supreme Court recently declined to review this decision, which makes it final.
Housing CA in the News
Housing CA expanded to new platforms, earning interviews in outlets like Gimme Shelter podcast and a spot in the Sacramento Bee’s monthly Influencer series in 2019, where Lisa Hershey provided insights into provocative topics related to housing and transportation. We also earned coverage elsewhere in the Sacramento Bee as well as in CalMatters, Capital and Main, Capital Public Radio, Finance 101, the Los Angeles Times, Politifact, San Francisco Examiner, Roll Call, Shelterforce, the Voice of San Diego, and the Wellston Journal. Also, we saw great growth in our social media following, allowing us to increase our reach and our impact.
Thank you, Adam Bink and team at Spitfire Strategies for helping us to raise our advocacy communications game: education is happening, momentum is building and exciting new campaigns are in the works!
Housing CA's 2020 Conference April 14-16, Town & Country, San Diego
Our 2020 conference theme, our Homes, our Voice, our California, invites everyone to speak up and be heard in our collective effort to create homes for ALL Californians.
Discover sponsorship opportunities, or pledge now! In appreciation of your support for the 2020 conference, we are offering greater opportunities for visibility and engagement with conference participants, including a conference app, workshop track sponsorships, and scholarship underwriting. Most sponsorship levels also include exhibit space in the busy and always sold out Exhibit Expo, providing the ideal opportunity to meet our multi-sector conference attendees.
Early Bird registration opens January 16th. Discounted rates are available to those with a Housing CA membership.
We saved the best for last! We welcome two new people to our team this winter: Luke Villalobos (mentioned above) and Khrystyna Platte (below), our new administrative assistant. Learn more about Khrystyna. And stay tuned as we welcome more team members in early 2020.
Thanks for sharing our 2019 journey — we've achieved so much together. Are you ready for 2020? Let's DO this!!