THE RECEIPTS - Housing and Homelessness

Friends,

During the League of Women Voters forum (as the challengers decried the failure of our economy on homelessness with simplistic platitudes of this complex problem) I was challenged to demonstrate what I’ve done to improve the quality of life for the unhoused and the housed in our district.  While I am angry that we have not yet been able to do more, I am clear about our accomplishments and about what more is needed. The debate revealed that there are vast differences in our approach, skill, focus and results. 

Everyone is pained by the the rise in homelessness.  Sadly too few understand the complexity of this challenge.  If the solutions were easy or obvious this national crisis would be solved.

Homelessness is up throughout California; this is not unique to Oakland.  As effective as the Moms4Housing protest was at drawing increased attention to the growing international concern of housing ownership, it is not a salve for the thousands of people living on the streets in Oakland. Bringing solutions for hurting families means we have to speak truth: this economic failure will not be solved by seizing one single family home.

The housing market is regional.  Oaklanders know that our proximity to San Francisco and San Jose has created upward pressure on rents and sales prices – a trend that we’ve experienced time and again over the past 30 years.  As prices rise in SF/South Bay communities, those workers migrate to the redlined undervalued surrounding cities- Oakland being the most attractive and amenity rich of the available options.

As a 20+ year affordable housing advocate and developer, I know what it takes to build the housing we need.  This is why I’ve been diligently working on bringing forward solutions at the city and regional level.  As your champion on the Council I have:

  • Partnered with our County Supervisor Keith Carson to pioneer the Compassionate Communities initiative
  • Co-authored Measure JJ – expanding Just Cause Eviction and Rent Increase protections
  • Secured 10s of millions of dollars in new homelessness funding by pushing to include $150 Million for Affordable Housing in the Infrastructure Bond (Measure KK) and the Parks Measure (Measure Q) – offering amendments that guaranteed set asides for no and extremely low income housing
  • Engaged Congresswoman Barbara Lee and led the effort to turn back draconian reductions in Section 8 vouchers
  • Pushed to protect single room occupancy transient hotels – housing of last resort that does not discriminate for credit worthiness or for lack of substantial deposits
  • Demanded increased coordination to respond to encampments and improve service delivery to the unhoused. 

As your representative on the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) I have:

  • Helped pass AB1487 (2019) the bill that established the Bay Area Housing Finance Authority (BAHFA). BAHFA, and the expanded regional housing portfolio, is rooted in the “3Ps” framework that comprehensively addresses the housing crisis through a combination of production, preservation and protection. Specifically:
    • Production of rental housing for lower-income households (at or below 80% of the area median income or AMI)
    • Preservation of affordable housing for low-or moderate-income households (up to 120% of AMI)
    • Protecting tenants from displacement and preventing homelessness
  • Stopped an effort to impose a regressive sales tax on Oakland households, demanding that large employers pay their fair share to fund housing and relieve transportation stress caused by job growth

I am currently working with OUSD on a plan to house all homeless students and their families and this year I was selected by ABAG President Jesse Arreguin to serve on the newly established Regional Housing Committee.  In this capacity I make sure Oakland’s needs are at the center of identifying regional solutions.  And now, after five years of persistent advocacy, the Council is now positioned to take action on many of the efforts I have championed. 

COVID19 lays bare the dire needs for housing security and hunger – two issues that have begged for attention amongst the organized campaigns for many good causes.  By partnering with my Council colleagues that represent Oakland’s flatlands, I was able to direct nearly $30 million of CARES ACT funds to addressing these critical needs in the flatlands, allowing the City to purchase hotels and an abandoned dormitory to house more of our houseless constituents. 

30 days from today voters will decided who will represent District 3 on the Oakland City Council.  

I present these receipts for your consideration.  Results over rhetoric; innovation over blame; proven leadership over ambition.

The work is not yet done.  But I remain committed to furthering the work – in Oakland and the region, to do better by those who need us most.

I hope I can count on your support.

In Love, Service and Hope,