Ensuring Opportunity

Don’t miss out! Upcoming events on storytelling, housing advocacy, nonprofit lobbying

Today we are pleased to promote several upcoming events on storytelling, housing advocacy, and nonprofit lobbying:
  • August 29: Affordable Housing Now! The Veterans and Affordable Housing Act
  • September 13: Wait, Whose Movement is This?
  • September 18: How Nonprofits Can Legally Advocate
  • September 27: Bay Area Housing Affordability Advocacy Forum


Housing Webinar Watch Party
Affordable Housing Now! The Veterans and Affordable Housing Act
This November, California voters will have the opportunity to approve the Veterans and Affordable Housing Act (Proposition 1) which will provide $4 billion to build homes for our veterans, struggling families, people experiencing homelessness and people with disabilities.


On August 29, Rise Together and Nonprofit Housing Association of Northern California (NPH) are presenting a webinar on how you and your organization can make a difference this November in making our state a more affordable place to live.
Ensuring Opportunity Campaign and Richmond Community Foundation are hosting a webinar watch party and discussion. Following the webinar we will discuss what we can do in Contra Costa.
Wednesday, August 29
9:45 AM (webinar starts at 10:00 AM)
Richmond Community Foundation
1014 Florida Ave, Suite 200, Richmond
Refreshments and snacks will be provided.
If you are not available to join us at RCF for the webinar viewing, you can also watch the webinar on your own.

Story Telling

Storytellling FESPJoin us for a special workshop on storytelling: “Wait, Whose Movement is This?” Through our narratives as an organization, the broader public learns what is being faced by the community we serve. Through narratives and storytelling, we form the basis for creating solutions. Creating the right solution comes from reading and understanding the right narrative.

Join communications consultant Aliya Semper Ewig for a discussion-based workshop that teaches you how to rethink your process in storytelling, moving us even closer into community justice and sustainable well-being. Ensuring Opportunity is pleased to offer this workshop in partnership with the Family Economic Security Partnership, the Human Services Alliance and Rise Together Bay Area.

Thursday, September 13
9:00 AM or 1:00 PM
First 5 Contra Costa
1485 Civic Ct, Concord

Register for storytelling workshop

The workshop is free but pre-registration is required. Participants will be accepted on a first-come, first served basis. The 2-hour workshop is being offered at 9:00 AM and again at 1:00 PM.

Nonprofit Lobbying

How Nonprofits Can Legally Advocate

Mikrofon in einem Konferenzraum

You are invited to a training by Alliance for Justice for Contra Costa community leaders and organizations hosted by The San Francisco Foundation, in collaboration with: Family Economic Security Partnership, First 5 Contra Costa, Ensuring Opportunity, Lift Up Contra Costa, East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy, Faith Alliance for a Moral Economy, the Racial Justice Coalition and the Budget Justice Coalition.

Tuesday, September 18
2:00 – 5:00 PM
First Presbyterian Church
1935 Colfax Street, Concord

Register for Alliance for Justice Training

Participants will learn how nonprofits can legally advocate for public policy and community change at every level of government AND what nonprofits need to know in California to get involved in a ballot measure campaign.

Housing Advocacy

As the urgency for housing advocacy heats up, many individuals and organizations across the region are trying to get involved and lend a collective voice for change, Bay Area Affordability Advocacy forumbut often find the field too complex and mystifying to truly make a difference. Hosted by Rise Together, the Housing Affordability Advocacy Forum will bring together our region’s most active and effective affordable housing advocates to help demystify housing advocacy for the rest of us, and plug us in to effective advocacy opportunities.

Join us to learn about local and regional initiatives that are making progress on affordable housing, and upcoming advocacy opportunities that can leverage big change.

Register for advocacy forum


July 24 – Join us for a Day of Action to protect immigrants and address racial disparities in the county’s criminal justice system


Tomorrow, July 24, the Board of Supervisors will hold hearings on two critical issues for our community. Please join us in Martinez to make your voice heard. Share this message with other to help spread the word.Mikrofon in einem Konferenzraum

Speak up in support of approving and implementing the Board-appointed Contra Costa Racial Justice Task Force’s recommendations to address significant racial disparities in our criminal and juvenile justice systems.

Tuesday, July 24 at 9:30 AM

Contra Costa Board of Supervisors Chamber

651 Pine St., Room 107, Martinez

Background: In response to advocacy by the Contra Costa Racial Justice Coalition, in 2016 the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the creation of the Racial Justice Task Force. The members of the Task Force represent a wide range of local stakeholders including County criminal and juvenile justice agencies, County health and behavioral health, community-based organizations, local school districts, law enforcement agencies, and the community at large.

Over the past year, the Task Force reviewed data on local criminal and juvenile justice systems, discussed best and emerging practices for addressing racial disparities in those systems, and developed recommendations to address those disparities. Read the Final Report to the Board of Supervisors for key findings and the list of recommendations, including how each Task Force member voted on each recommendation.

Ensuring Opportunity has been deeply engaged in this process through our participation in the Contra Costa Racial Justice Coalition. We are grateful for the diligent advocacy and leadership this community-based coalition has provided on this issue over the past year.

For tomorrow, please prepare to speak up during public comment. Please read the final report above and come ready to speak for two minutes during Public Comment.

If you can’t come to the meeting tomorrow, please write to your Supervisor today to express support for the work the Task Force has done and urge adoption of all the recommendations, including the funding required to convert the Task Force to the next necessary committees.

TRUTH Act Forum

Join Ensuring Opportunity and our fellow members of the Contra Costa Immigrant Rights Alliance at the first annual TRUTH Act forum in Contra Costa.

Tuesday, July 24

Rally at 1:00 p.m.    Forum at 2:00 p.m.

Contra Costa Board of Supervisors Chamber

651 Pine St., Room 107, Martinez

Under California’s TRUTH Act, any jurisdiction that has allowed ICE access in the past year is required to hold a community forum describing the nature of that access and allowing opportunity for public comment. The goal is to bring transparency to local jurisdictions’ involvement with immigration enforcement.

Through community advocacy efforts, the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors scheduled the forum to ensure that our community can get informed and ask questions about how our county works with ICE.

Sheriff David Livingston and Probation Chief Todd Billeci will attend the forum to present information on their respective agencies’ involvement with ICE, and will answer questions from the Board of Supervisors and the community.

Please come prepared to ask questions and share your experience. Note that because of the way the law is structured, this forum will only address the county’s involvement with ICE during the 2017 calendar year – not 2018.

Let’s make sure we show up for our community and our values!

CCIRA TRUTH Act Forum Promo

Join us in Concord on May 1st!


AB 1506: Costa-Hawkins Repeal Bill

Tomorrow morning (Thursday), the state bill to repeal the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act will be heard in the Assembly’s Housing and Community Development Committee. Ensuring Opportunity Campaign strongly supports the repeal of Costa-Hawkins because the current law overly limits cities’ local control over rent control policies. In the current housing market in Contra Costa, the Bay Area and beyond, low-income, vulnerable, and marginalized community members are most likely to be displaced from their homes and communities due to unreasonable rent increases. It is important for cities to have the ability to implement stronger rent control policies to protect their residents, many of them long-time community members, who are struggling to make ends meet in the expensive Bay Area.

Ensuring Opportunity will continue to track this bill and will alert you when your support for the bill is need. One thing you can do today is sign a form letter in support of the repeal of Costa-Hawkins.

Need a quick primer on Costa-Hawkins? Here’s a handy infographic created by the Housing Now coalition.

Costa Hawkins Image

Housing Town Hall Findings

Richmond Town Hall audience - Sept 28 2017

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)

cocoRegional 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.

Town Hall - Concord panel 10-28-17Thank 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.

Act Today! Our Health Care is at Risk, Again

Tfight4ourhealthhe new legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will mean millions of Americans may lose their coverage. Medicaid coverage for seniors, children, adults, and people with disabilities will be cut and capped, and people with pre-existing conditions will lose protections. States like California that successfully enrolled millions of people in the market place and Medicaid will lose the most. At least 5 million Californians stand to lose life-saving care.

Take action today:


  •  Retweet to ask these CA congressional members to oppose #GrahamCassidy:

Rep. Jeff Denham, Rep. David Valadao, Rep. Steve Knight, Rep. Darrell Issa, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, Rep. Mimi Walters, Rep. Ed Royce



Read more about what is at stake:

Join us on September 23 in Antioch

D3BANNER_withseal                                  EO log - rev July 2016               Print

Housing Town Hall – Join us!
September 23 at 10 AM at Grace Bible Fellowship of Antioch (3415 Oakley Road)


number-6-icon-8Did you know that Contra Costa is among the top ten most expensive counties in the country?

Contra Costa ranks sixth in the national rank of most expensive jurisdictions. Renters need to earn more than $86,923 to pay for a typical 2-bedroom in our county.

Source: On Track Together by Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California

Join us on September 23 in Antioch to learn more about what we can do, together, to create a community that everyone can call home.

Our goal is to share information about the scope of the housing crisis countywide and in your community. We want to learn from you and other residents how you are affected by the housing crisis and hear your ideas on which solutions will most help our local community.

Please join us and add your voice to the conversation!

Please invite your colleagues, friends and neighbors as well.



Everyone who lives, works or has an interest in a particular region of the county is warmly welcome to attend the Town Hall. Additional Town Halls are being held throughout the county. All Town Hall events are on Saturday mornings from 10:00 -noon. We’ll share additional information on event locations once confirmed.

Additional Housing Town Hall dates

September 30 in Richmond (co-hosted by Supervisor John Gioia, District 1), at Church of Christ (1501 Florida Ave., Richmond).

October 14 in Alamo (co-hosted by Supervisor Candace Andersen, District 2), at the San Ramon Valley United Methodist Church (902 Danville Blvd, Alamo).

October 21, in Martinez (Co-hosted by Supervisor Federal Glover, District 5).

October 28 in Concord (co-hosted by Supervisor Karen Mitchoff, District 4).

Contra Costa Housing Update and Call to Action

In this post:

  • Upcoming Contra Costa Housing Town Halls – save the date(s)!
  • Call to Action: Contact your state legislators today about SB 2 and SB 3
  • Regional housing webinar on Sept. 15


Ensuring Opportunity and the Multi-Faith ACTION Coalition will co-host five regional Housing Town Halls in September and October. Every member of the County Board of Supervisors has committed to hosting a Housing Town Hall in their district.

Everyone who lives, works or has an interest in a particular region of the county is warmly welcome to attend the Town Halls. Our goal is to share information about the scope of the housing crisis countywide and in each district, and to learn from residents how they are affected by the crisis and which solutions will most help their local community.

Please join us and add your voice to the conversation! Please invite your colleagues, friends and neighbors as well. All Town Hall events are on Saturday mornings from 9:30-noon. We’ll share additional information on event locations once confirmed.

Town Hall dates:

September 23 in Antioch (co-hosted by Supervisor Diane Burgis, District 3)

September 30 in Richmond (co-hosted by Supervisor John Gioia, District 1)

October 14 in Alamo (co-hosted by Supervisor Candace Andersen, District 2), at the San Ramon Valley United Methodist Church

October 21, in Martinez (Co-hosted by Supervisor Federal Glover, District 5)

October 28 in Concord (co-hosted by Supervisor Karen Mitchoff, District 4)


Before the summer recess began, the Governor and Legislative Leadership announced a new housing package that would include much-needed new funding for affordable housing.

Here are two bills that need your support TODAY.

SB 2: Building Homes and Jobs Act

Senate Bill 2 creates a permanent source of funding for affordable housing development by imposing a $75 fee on real estate transaction documents, excluding residential and commercial property sales. To learn more about this bill, read Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California’s (NPH) Fact Sheet. 

SB 3: Affordable Housing Bond Act

Senate Bill 3 would place a $3 billion statewide general obligation bond for affordable housing on the November 2018 ballot. The bond will fund existing and successful affordable housing programs in California, including Multifamily Housing, CalHome, and Local Housing Trust Fund Matching Grant, with the intent of addressing the housing stock shortage. Please contact your state legislator to ask them to support funding for affordable housing by voting YES on SB 2 and SB 3.

Take action now by clicking HERE.


September 15, 10:00-11:30 AM

Non-Profit Housing of Northern California (NPH) and Rise Together’s Power of 9 Housing Committee are organizing a 90-minute webinar on September 15 to discuss challenges and opportunities in addressing the affordable housing crisis in the Bay Area. The webinar is free. Register HERE.

What – and whom – should our next District Attorney stand for?


What – and whom – should our next District Attorney stand for?

The county’s choice of a new District Attorney can help end local poverty … or make it worse

By Mariana Moore
Ensuring Opportunity Campaign Director

Following the resignation of former District Attorney Mark Peterson in June after he pleaded guilty to perjury, the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors will act to appoint an interim District Attorney. Whomever the Board selects to fill the interim role will have the incumbent’s advantage leading up to the June 2018 election. More importantly, the new D.A. will have an important role in shaping the department’s culture, policies and practices. And right now, all of us have a unique opportunity to weigh in whom the Board will select.

The Supervisors met on August 1 and narrowed the list of applicants to five finalists. They have been invited to participate in a community forum at 6:00 pm this coming Tuesday, August 15, at 651 Pine Street in Martinez; details here. Whether or not you can attend, we encourage you to submit your questions to the forum moderator in advance, using the online form here.

The five finalists are Diana Becton, Danielle Douglas, Paul Graves, Thomas Kensok and Patrick Vanier. You can read their applications here, along with those of the other seven candidates who were not chosen.

A second District Attorney candidates’ forum will be held tomorrow (Saturday) from 12:30-3:00 p.m. This event is co-hosted by several resident groups and community organizations; details here.

Here’s why the D.A. appointment matters law

The goal of the Ensuring Opportunity is to end poverty in Contra Costa County by changing the systems and policies that get in the way of residents’ economic success. Our vision is that every resident and family living in our community has access to the resources and opportunities they need to support their family and thrive. To get there, every resident of our county must be treated with fairness, dignity and respect, regardless of income level, cultural background or immigration status.

The District Attorney has an important role to play in achieving this vision. There is a clear, evidence-based link between criminal justice policies and the level of economic opportunity that is available to residents. The policy choices that our District Attorney makes will have a profound impact on the lives of some of our community’s most vulnerable members. While the media often focus on the practices of police on the street, the policies set and enforced by the District Attorney also deeply affect the economic well-being of residents who interact with the criminal justice system.

That’s why the “Community Safety” section of Ensuring Opportunity’s Policy Framework highlights several current criminal justice policies that affect the economic well-being of local residents, including the criminalization of minor non-violent offenses, sharing inmate release dates with federal immigration authorities, charging high bail and fines, and seizing defendants’ property prior to conviction. These types of policies are outdated and wrong-headed, and have led to our current mass incarceration crisis. Together, these policies are keeping too many people from reaching their economic potential.

The new District Attorney must make it a priority to promote justice and fairness for all residents. They should enhance public safety for all residents, both victims of crime and residents charged with a crime. The District Attorney is required to live in Contra Costa. To earn our trust, they should be seen as a part of the community and as someone fellow residents trust to uphold the values of transparency, accountability and integrity.

The new District Attorney must be deeply committed to earning the community’s trust. She or he will need to rebuild public confidence, across all communities and all political perspectives, in the integrity and competence of the District Attorney’s office. It is especially important to create trust among residents who have historically been hurt by systemic injustices including racism, economic discrimination, and divisive immigration policies. What we have as a result is a system that harms residents who can’t afford cash bail or high fines and fees, let alone pay a private attorney. This is unacceptable.

The new District Attorney will surely come into office knowing there is much work to do to change external perceptions of the department’s performance and integrity. It will be important to examine the department’s culture and practices, as true change must come from the inside out. This type of internal examination can be difficult, but it’s essential – and our community’s safety depends on it.

What – and who – should the men and women aspiring to be our next District Attorney stand for? The answer is: integrity, transparency, fairness and justice, for all county residents.

Please join us at the community forums tomorrow and Tuesday to add your voice to the conversation. Our Board of Supervisors wants to hear from you. The decision they make will have critical and long-lasting impacts on whether everyone in our community truly has an opportunity to thrive.

Ensuring Opportunity Blog: Aligning our advocacy work with our values

Zuleika headshotBy Zuleika Godinez, Ensuring Opportunity Campaign

I recently attended the national YIMBYTown conference in Oakland to learn more about what policies Yes In My Back Yard (YIMBY) housing advocates are supporting. While I learned lots of useful information about the housing crisis, I also came away with an important message that applies to all policy leaders and advocates, not just to YIMBYs, which is this: Self-reflection and organizational values alignment are just as important as the external work that we do.

Keynote speaker Laura Loe (Bernstein), who is a housing activist with the YIMBY movement in Seattle, emphasized that housing advocates should ask ourselves how the policies we are proposing will impact communities of color and others who have been historically left out and marginalized. She added that we must be honest about who benefits from these proposed policies immediately, who stays and who has to leave, who is building wealth and who isn’t, and who is policed and who isn’t. She challenged housing advocates to take a step back to ask if we are truly listening to those most impacted by the housing crisis, and how we are supporting these folks’ leadership in creating solutions.

As advocates, we do our work with good intentions, but we must be willing to stop and acknowledge when our actions and policy positions are no longer aligned with our values. In coalition work – which is how most advocacy work gets done – this internal reflection is even more important.

As the policy coordinator for Ensuring Opportunity, I am involved with numerous coalitions and work with passionate, talented and deeply committed advocates. I’m encouraged to see that some of these coalitions have recently launched important internal conversations about values, intent and impact. Collectively, we are realizing that there are issues around process and values that must be addressed in order for our policy advocacy to be truly inclusive. Only then can we authentically work toward solutions that deeply embody the values of equity and justice as we strive to lift up our communities.

At the Ensuring Opportunity Campaign, equity is the core value that is most central to our work (see our Theory of Change). To ensure that everyone in our community thrives, we must do more than ensure equitable policies are in place. All of us working to end poverty must also challenge the assumptions and practices that sometimes create blind spots in the policy-making process itself. As Ghandi said near the end of his life, “There is no wall of separation between means and end.”

We invite you to reflect on the following questions in your own work:

  • Who is at the policy making tables I’m sitting at, and who is missing?
  • Who decides who is invited to these tables?
  • In order to lead with courage and compassion, what values do I hold that should frame and drive my work as a policy maker or advocate?
  • When am I acting in integrity with my core values and what do I do when I’m not?

We’d love to hear your thoughts and comments as we continue on this journey together.