Residents speak up: more affordable options, housing with services, tenant protections urgently needed
More than 150 residents, elected officials, housing developers and advocates came together in five separate Housing Town Halls this fall, co-sponsored by Ensuring Opportunity and the Multi-Faith ACTION Coalition, to discuss the impact of the affordable housing crisis in Contra Costa and explore possible solutions.
Following a panel discussion, participants submitted their ideas on housing solutions that fit the needs of their community. Below is a summary of the most urgent housing needs, barriers to meeting local housing needs, and solutions they would like to see happen. We analyzed common themes seen countywide (across regions), as well as specific differences among the regions.
Countywide – shared priorities:
- The three most urgent housing needs were identified as:
- Long-term housing with services (i.e. to support residents with mental health and substance use needs)
- More affordable housing options for low-income residents
- Tenant protections (including rent control)
- The top three barriers getting in the way of local housing needs being met were:
- NIMBYism (Not In My Back Yard) attitudes
- A lack of funding dedicated to affordable housing
- A lack of commitment to affordable housing from elected leaders
- The top three solutions desired to meet the housing needs of community members included:
- Dedicated funding for affordable housing
- Increased resident advocacy for affordable housing
- Willingness to support alternative housing solutions (i.e. tiny homes and ADUs)
Regional differences in priorities:
District 1 (West County – Supervisor John Gioia):
- Affordable housing for low-income residents and stronger tenant protections were the most frequently mentioned urgent housing needs, while a lack of funding dedicated to affordable housing was listed at the top barrier.
- Participants wanted to see more resident advocacy in support of affordable housing and more funding for affordable housing, such as through a countywide housing bond.
District 2 (South County – Supervisor Candace Andersen):
- Participants want to see more affordable housing for seniors and other low-income residents and more housing development near transit.
- Key barriers included classism and a lack of public education on the root causes of homelessness and housing instability.
- Participants would like to see increased resident advocacy in support of affordable housing in their communities.
District 3 (Far East County – Supervisor Diane Burgis):
- The most pressing housing need mentioned was long-term housing with services.
- Barriers included a lack of public education on the root causes of homelessness and housing instability, insufficient funding dedicated to affordable housing, and NIMBYism.
- Participants would like to see an increase in funding dedicated to affordable housing and more funding for homeless services.
District 4 (Central County – Supervisor Karen Mitchoff):
- Top housing needs included preventing displacement of low-income communities and communities of color, more affordable housing for all income levels, and tenant protections.
- NIMBYism was the top barrier mentioned; other barriers frequently mentioned included a lack of commitment from elected leaders and a lack of dedicated funding for affordable housing.
- The top solution was dedicated funding for affordable housing.
District 5 (North County – Supervisor Federal Glover):
- The most urgent need was long-term housing with services.
- NIMBYism was the most frequently mentioned barrier.
- Suggested solutions included a dedicated funding source for affordable housing, such as a countywide housing bond, and resident advocacy in support of affordable housing.
Thank you to all of you who participated in our housing town hall series this fall. We also want to thank:
- The members of our county Board of Supervisors for co-hosting these events, and for listening carefully to their constituents’ questions and comments.
- The Multi-Faith ACTION Coalition, for co-sponsoring and helping to organize all five events.
- Our wonderful panelists, the elected officials, city staff, resident leaders, and housing experts who generously gave up a Saturday morning to share their expertise about affordable housing:
- Alamo: Mia Carbajal, East Bay Housing Organizations (EBHO); Woody Karp, Eden Housing; Robert Storer, Danville Council member; Don Tatzin, Lafayette Vice Mayor; Tim O’Keefe, Golden Rain Foundation (moderator)
- Antioch: Sharon Cornu, Non-Profit Housing Association (NPH); Tamisha Walker, Antioch resident and Safe Return Project; Sean Wright, Antioch Mayor; Mary Rocha, former Antioch Mayor (moderator)
- Concord: Gloria Bruce, East Bay Housing Organizations (EBHO); Rich Carlston, Walnut Creek Mayor; Toni Robertson, CoCoKids; Laura Simpson, Concord Planning and Housing Manager; John Eckstrom, Shelter Inc. (moderator)
- Martinez: Sophia DeWitt, East Bay Housing Organizations (EBHO); Dan Hardy, Resources for Community Development (RCD); Pam McGrath, Pittsburg Resident and SparkPoint site coordinator; Doug Leich, Multi-Faith ACTION Coalition (moderator)
- Richmond: Pedro Galvao, Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California (NPH); Dan Hardy, Resources for Community Development (RCD); Regina Keels, Richmond resident and SparkPoint Administrative Assistant; Edith Pastrano, Richmond resident and organizer with Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE); Nikki Beasley, Richmond Neighborhood Housing Services, Inc. (moderator)
- The California Endowment, for generously sponsoring this series of community discussions.
Help us keep the conversation going!
- Ensuring Opportunity is sharing these findings with each of the county Supervisors, city elected officials, and our partners in housing advocacy.
- We’d love to hear your reactions to these findings: what stood out for you? What surprised you? What needs to happen next to begin moving toward the proposed solutions?
- Stay tuned for an announcement our upcoming countywide Housing Convening in the spring of 2018 – we hope you can join us for a community conversation about how to create workable solutions.
- We encourage you to continue to share with your local elected officials (city and county) why housing matters to you and what solutions you would like to see them support.
We must work together to ensure that all of our family members, neighbors, friends and colleagues, have a safe and affordable place to call home in our community. Thank you for all that you are doing, or may soon feel called to do, to turn this dream into reality.