Ensuring Opportunity

This November voters like YOU can be part of the solution to California’s housing crisis

Housing on the Ballot

On November 6, California voters will have the opportunity to approve three critical housing ballot measures: the Veterans and Affordable Housing Act, No Place Like Home, and the Affordable Housing Act. Together these ballot measures will increase funding for housing opportunities and increase cities’ and counties’ options to protect local tenants from displacement.

Proposition 1: The Veterans and Affordable Housing Act will generate $2 billion in new funds to create and preserve affordable homes, including supportive housing, for veterans, working families, people with disabilities, residents experiencing homelessness and others struggling to find a safe place to call home. Download flyer for more information.

Proposition 2: No Place Like Home will help people who are homeless and dealing with serious mental illness by creating stable housing for them and keeping mental health support services in close reach. Download flyer for more information.

Proposition 10: The Affordable Housing Act will give local communities the power to adopt local rent control measures by repealing the state’s Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act. Proposition 10 is a critical tool that will give our local cities the ability to provide more housing stability, protect families, and make our communities more affordable. Download flyer for more information.

Ensuring Opportunity believes that each of these solutions is a critical part of a comprehensive strategy to address the housing and homelessness crisis that is fracturing so many families and communities in Contra Costa. We urge you to vote Yes on Propositions 1, 2, and 10 in November.

What can you do to ensure these three propositions pass?
  • Encourage your friends, neighbors, and colleagues to vote yes on Propositions 1, 2, and 10.
  • Visit each campaign’s website to sign up to get involved:

Housing stability is critical to ending poverty – Vote YES on Proposition 10

It’s no secret that our state has a serious housing problem. Between 2000 and 2016, average rents in California rose 85%, while median household income increased by just 43%. One in three families in our state spends more than half of their income on housing. These families often have to go without other necessities such as health care, child care and food, just to keep a roof over their heads.

Contra Costa residents have been especially hard hit by the housing crisis. Between 2000 and 2015, Contra Costa County experienced a 55% increase in the number of low-income households of color – higher than the Bay Area average. Residents countywide must earn, on average, almost four times the minimum wage – more than $40 per hour – just to afford the median cost of rent.

Gentrification is hastening the displacement of thousands of long-time residents. In recent months we have seen widespread evictions resulting in severe disruption in the lives of local residents, including the mass eviction of 24 families in an apartment complex in Concord. The local and statewide housing crisis is harming our friends, neighbors and coworkers.

Take a moment to think about your friends, colleagues and family members. We all have loved ones who have built their lives around their jobs and friends in Contra Costa, and who have built their community here. Now imagine these loved ones being forced to move far away to find cheaper housing, or working two or three jobs just to pay the rent. This is no way to build a healthy family or a thriving community.

The impact of the housing crisis can affect families for generations. Research shows that being evicted can have many negative consequences for families, including depression and poorer health. Housing instability can have enduring effects on individuals’ and families’ ability to obtain and hold onto basic necessities such as food, clothing, health care and public benefits. Residential instability is also linked to lower academic achievement in children.

The good news is that there are steps you can take, right now, to begin addressing the housing crisis. In the upcoming election, California voters have the opportunity to increase our communities’ options to protect local residents from being forced out.housing-is-a-human-right-2

Proposition 10, the Affordable Housing Act, is a statewide initiative that restores the right of local communities to implement rent control laws that fit their residents’ needs, by repealing the Costa Hawkins Rental Housing Act. (Watch this two-minute video to learn how Costa Hawkins limits the application of rent control ordinances.)

Contrary to recent misleading claims, Proposition 10 does not mandate rent control. It does not force any community to adopt any rent control measures that would not be a good fit for their own housing situation. It does not force any one-size-fits-all solutions on any city. It simple returns these policy decisions to the local level where they belong, to be made by local residents rather than by the state.

The benefit of rent control is that it protects tenants from excessive rent increases by mandating a reasonable amount and frequency of increases, while at the same time allowing landlords a reasonable return on their investment. Research has confirmed that rent control policies promote housing stability, which is critical to achieving our shared mission to end poverty.

We recognize that rent control alone cannot solve the worsening housing affordability crisis in Contra Costa. We also need to build a lot more housing that families can afford – in fact, 31,000 additional units are needed in Contra Costa to meet current need. But it’s important to understand that rent control ordinances are the proven – and often only – tool that can protect our lower-income neighbors from immediate displacement and long-lasting harm.

Rent control ordinances buy time while policymakers develop more comprehensive strategies to expand the regional supply of affordable homes. This is why we also recommend a “yes” vote on Proposition 1, the Veterans and Affordable Housing Act, and Proposition 2, No Place Like Home. See our post about why we support Props 1 and 2.

We urge you to vote Yes on Propositions 1, 2, and 10 in November. All residents in Contra Costa – our friends, neighbors, colleagues and fellow congregation members – deserve a home that is safe, stable and affordable. Together, we can do this.

 

Vote YES on Propositions 1 and 2 to help local families being crushed by housing costs

Prop1&2

Homelessness and access to affordable housing are two of our state’s biggest challenges. One in three Californians is being crushed by rising rents and housing costs. Our state has the highest numbers of veterans and unaccompanied youth who are experiencing homelessness.

Many of us here in Contra Costa have family members, friends, coworkers and neighbors who are among those unable to afford their rent. One in six residents is struggling to keep up with the cost of housing, and homelessness is on the rise in our county. Many residents are spending between 30 to 50 percent of their incomes on housing costs, forcing them to make tough choices and sacrifice food, health care, child care, and other essential needs in order to keep a roof over their family’s heads.

According to a recent report by California Housing Partnership Corporation, Contra Costa needs to build an astonishing 31,139 additional affordable rental homes to meet the current needs of local residents.

That’s why Ensuring Opportunity is supporting Propositions 1 and 2. These two statewide propositions on the November statewide ballot present two important ways we can all help build and provide stable, affordable housing for Californians struggling in the midst of the state’s affordable housing and homelessness crisis.

Proposition 1, the Veterans and Affordable Housing Act, will build and provide affordable housing for working families, veterans, people with disabilities, and seniors, helping more people to be able to afford to stay in their communities — while also reducing traffic and commute times.

Proposition 2, No Place Like Home, will help people who are homeless and dealing with serious mental illness by creating stable housing for them, and keeping mental health support services in close reach.

Ensuring Opportunity has set up a page on our website with more information about these propositions, including several of our trusted partners’ voter guides.

By voting for Propositions 1 and 2, together we can help build safe and affordable housing for Contra Costa residents who can’t afford their rent, and stop the cycle of homelessness for people suffering from serious mental illness.

Ensuring Opportunity also recommends a “yes” vote on Proposition 10, The Affordable Housing Act, which will give local communities the power to adopt local rent control measures by repealing the state’s Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act. Proposition 10 is a critical tool that will give our local cities the choice to provide more housing stability and protect families from displacement. See our post about why we support Proposition 10.

We believe that each of these policy solutions plays a critical role in a comprehensive strategy to address the housing and homelessness crisis that is fracturing so many of our local communities. Let’s come together on November 6 to help thousands of our family members, friends, neighbors and coworkers here in Contra Costa who are struggling to keep their housing, families and communities intact.

We urge you to vote Yes on Propositions 1, 2, and 10 in November.

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.

RiseTogetherWebinarII

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!

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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

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

RSVP HERE


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.

RSVP HERE

DOWNLOAD FLYER

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).