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Advocate

Bringing together a community to spark change

While our grantmaking addresses the immediate housing crises for families, youth, and youth adults, our advocacy proactively identifies and influences the upstream causes of those crises and seeks to create a more just and equitable future.

You can influence the policies, laws, and attitudes that create the housing insecurity experienced by our neighbors today.

We are working with our Board and partners to develop opportunities for you to get involved. Please check back on this page so you can bring your voice to the solution. In preparation for action, we invite you to learn more about poverty and housing insecurity in the Bay Area.​

Join Us

We invite you to bring your voice to the solution. Below are actions we endorse and invite you to support.

Support SCA2 and Repeal Article 34

Originally passed in 1950, Article 34 gives wealthy California neighborhoods veto power over affordable housing, enabling ongoing segregation and preventing housing from being built where it is needed most. ​

 

SCA 2 proposes to repeal Article 34 of the California Constitution with the goal of making it legal to build low-income and public housing in California’s cities. ​

Advocate for Change

I’m interested in advocating for and with my Bay Area neighbors experiencing poverty and housing insecurity. Let me know how I can help.

Latinx woman with a megaphone at a rally

The more we know, the better we are

Advocacy Resources

Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California

Since 1979, the Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California (NPH) has been the collective voice of affordable housing for the Bay Area. NPH works to realize their mission by advancing meaningful, critical policy solutions, and strengthening the affordable housing community who implement the programs and policies in our Bay Area communities. Their policy work advances bold solutions for a more affordable, stable, thriving region and state, focusing on housing solutions for low-income people and communities of color who suffer disproportionately from the housing crisis. Their programs and events strengthen and grow the capacity of our members to produce, preserve, and protect affordable housing for equitable communities and neighborhoods. 

https://nonprofithousing.org/https://nonprofithousing.org/policy-advocacy/

Housing California

Housing California brings together a diverse, multi-sector network to prevent and end homelessness, increase the supply of safe, stable, affordable housing options, and reverse the legacy of racial and economic injustice by building power among the people most impacted by housing injustice, shaping the narrative, and advocating for statewide policy solutions. 

https://www.housingca.org/https://www.housingca.org/policy/

Terner Center for Housing Innovation

The mission of the Terner Center for Housing Innovation at the University of California at Berkeley is to formulate bold strategies to house families from all walks of life in vibrant, sustainable, and affordable homes and communities. Established in 2015, the Terner Center has quickly become a leading voice in identifying, developing, and advancing innovative public and private sector solutions to the nation’s most intractable housing challenges. Their work provides timely analysis and data-driven research to support policy and innovation for policymakers, practitioners, and advocates in addressing with urgency the multiple, layered crises of housing affordability, entrenched inequities, and climate change. The Terner Center aims to provide actionable, pragmatic paths that are based in evidence and can bring together a coalition to make change. 

https://ternercenter.berkeley.edu/

Bay Area Council Economic Institute

Since 1990, the Bay Area Council Economic Institute has been the leading think tank focused on the economic and policy issues facing the San Francisco/Silicon Valley Bay Area, one of the most dynamic regions in the United States and the world’s leading center for technology and innovation. A valued forum for stakeholder engagement and a respected source of information and fact-based analysis, the Institute is a trusted partner and advisor to both business leaders and government officials. Through its economic and policy research and its many partnerships, the Institute addresses major factors impacting the competitiveness, economic development and quality of life of the region and the state, including infrastructure, globalization, science and technology, and health policy. It is guided by a Board of Advisors drawn from influential leaders in the corporate, academic, non-profit, and government sectors. The Institute is housed at and supported by the Bay Area Council, a public policy organization that includes hundreds of the region’s largest employers and is committed to keeping the Bay Area the world’s most competitive economy and best place to live. 

http://www.bayareaeconomy.org/report/solving-the-housing-affordability-crisis-san-francisco/

The University of California, San Francisco Benioff Homelessness and Housing Initiative

The California Statewide Study of People Experiencing Homelessness, conducted by The University of California, San Francisco Benioff Homelessness and Housing Initiative, is the largest representative study of homelessness in the United States since the mid-1990s. The study provides a comprehensive look at the causes and consequences of homelessness in California and recommends policy changes to shape programs in response. 

https://homelessness.ucsf.edu/our-impact/studies/california-statewide-study-people-experiencing-homelessness

San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association

The San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR) is a nonprofit public policy organization. We bring people together from across the political spectrum to develop solutions to the big problems cities face. Based in San Francisco, San José, and Oakland, we are recognized as a leading civic planning organization and respected for our independent and holistic approach to urban issues.

https://www.spur.org/, https://www.spur.org/policy-area/housing

KQED

KQED aims to tell the story of how California got into a housing affordability crisis by exploring the history and regional policies of the Bay Area. We want to know how marginalized residents are affected.

https://www.kqed.org/housing

What We're Reading and Listening To

"Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City" by Matthew Desmond

In Evicted, Princeton sociologist and MacArthur “Genius” Matthew Desmond follows eight families in Milwaukee as they each struggle to keep a roof over their heads. Hailed as “wrenching and revelatory” (The Nation), “vivid and unsettling” (New York Review of Books), Evicted transforms our understanding of poverty and economic exploitation while providing fresh ideas for solving one of twenty-first-century America’s most devastating problems. Its unforgettable scenes of hope and loss remind us of the centrality of home, without which nothing else is possible. 

"The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America" by Richard Rothstein

Widely heralded as a “masterful” (Washington Post) and “essential” (Slate) history of the modern American metropolis, Richard Rothstein’s The Color of Law offers “the most forceful argument ever published on how federal, state, and local governments gave rise to and reinforced neighborhood segregation” (William Julius Wilson). Exploding the myth of de facto segregation arising from private prejudice or the unintended consequences of economic forces, Rothstein describes how the American government systematically imposed residential segregation: with undisguised racial zoning; public housing that purposefully segregated previously mixed communities; subsidies for builders to create whites-only suburbs; tax exemptions for institutions that enforced segregation; and support for violent resistance to African Americans in white neighborhoods. A groundbreaking, “virtually indispensable” study that has already transformed our understanding of twentieth-century urban history (Chicago Daily Observer), The Color of Law forces us to face the obligation to remedy our unconstitutional past. 

"Poverty, by America" by Matthew Desmond

The United States, the richest country on earth, has more poverty than any other advanced democracy. Why? Why does this land of plenty allow one in every eight of its children to go without basic necessities, permit scores of its citizens to live and die on the streets, and authorize its corporations to pay poverty wages? 
 
In this landmark book, acclaimed sociologist Matthew Desmond draws on history, research, and original reporting to show how affluent Americans knowingly and unknowingly keep poor people poor. Those of us who are financially secure exploit the poor, driving down their wages while forcing them to overpay for housing and access to cash and credit. We prioritize the subsidization of our wealth over the alleviation of poverty, designing a welfare state that gives the most to those who need the least. And we stockpile opportunity in exclusive communities, creating zones of concentrated riches alongside those of concentrated despair. Some lives are made small so that others may grow.
 
Elegantly written and fiercely argued, this compassionate book gives us new ways of thinking about a morally urgent problem. It also helps us imagine solutions. Desmond builds a startlingly original and ambitious case for ending poverty. He calls on us all to become poverty abolitionists, engaged in a politics of collective belonging to usher in a new age of shared prosperity and, at last, true freedom.

"Homelessness is a Housing Problem: How Structural Factors Explain U.S. Patterns" by Gregg Colburn and Clayton Page Aldern

In Homelessness Is a Housing Problem, Gregg Colburn and Clayton Page Aldern seek to explain the substantial regional variation in rates of homelessness in cities across the United States. In a departure from many analytical approaches, Colburn and Aldern shift their focus from the individual experiencing homelessness to the metropolitan area. Using accessible statistical analysis, they test a range of conventional beliefs about what drives the prevalence of homelessness in a given city—including mental illness, drug use, poverty, weather, generosity of public assistance, and low-income mobility—and find that none explain the regional variation observed across the country. Instead, housing market conditions, such as the cost and availability of rental housing, offer a far more convincing account. With rigor and clarity, Homelessness Is a Housing Problem explores U.S. cities' diverse experiences with housing precarity and offers policy solutions for unique regional contexts.

"Rough Sleepers: Dr. Jim O'Connell's urgent mission to bring healing to homeless people" by Tracy Kidder

Tracy Kidder has been described by The Baltimore Sun as “a master of the nonfiction narrative.” In Rough Sleepers, Kidder tells the story of Dr. Jim O’Connell, a gifted man who invented a community of care for a city’s unhoused population, including those who sleep on the streets—the “rough sleepers.”

After Jim O’Connell graduated from Harvard Medical School and was nearing the end of his residency at Massachusetts General, the hospital’s chief of medicine made a proposal: Would he defer a prestigious fellowship and spend a year helping to create an organization to bring health care to homeless citizens? That year turned into O’Connell’s life’s calling. Tracy Kidder spent five years following Dr. O’Connell and his colleagues as they work with thousands of homeless patients, some of whom we meet in this illuminating book. We travel with O’Connell as he navigates the city streets at night, offering medical care, socks, soup, empathy, humor, and friendship to some of the city’s most endangered citizens. He emphasizes a style of medicine in which patients come first, joined with their providers in what he calls “a system of friends.”

Much as he did with Paul Farmer in Mountains Beyond Mountains, Kidder explores how Jim O’Connell and a dedicated group of people have improved countless lives by facing and addressing one of American society’s most difficult problems, instead of looking away.

S O L D  O U T: Rethinking Housing in America

A podcast that examines California's housing affordability crisis and imagines what housing can be in America. Meet the dreamers and doers who are finding their own solutions to high housing costs.

https://www.npr.org/podcasts/911586047/s-o-l-d-o-u-t-rethinking-housing-in-america

Advocacy Wins

Senate Bill 4 (SB 4): Planning and Zoning: Housing Development: Higher Education Institutions and Religious Institutions

We are proud to have endorsed California Senate Bill 4, which passed in late 2023 and is fueling our faith-based affordable housing efforts.

Titled the “Affordable Housing on Faith and Higher Education Lands Act of 2023,” it allows religious groups and nonprofit colleges to build affordable housing on land ‘by right,’ without requiring strict adherence to zoning standards. Also known as “Yes in God’s Back Yard (YIGBY),” it will allow congregations throughout the Bay Area to use excess and underutilized  land to help solve one of the state’s most intractable problems.

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