Victories for Housing Justice All Across the Bay!

Posted on July 5, 2024

Home is sacred. We all deserve the peace of mind of knowing that there’s a place for us here in the Bay – that no matter how our lives change, or how many years pass, having a safe and affordable place to live will always be possible for us, our children, and our loved ones. 

Virtually no one in the Bay Area has that stability right now. Corporations and private equity firms own so much of the rentable housing, they’ve been able to jack up rent prices across the region. People who were born here can’t afford to stay. People who move here for a better life find themselves just scraping by. Our homes are our foundation, and the foundation is crumbling. 

The good news is, the people are doing something about it. And we’re starting to win. 

In Contra Costa County, San Mateo County, Marin County, and beyond, we’re starting to see real movement in resident-led campaigns for housing justice. People are organizing to help their neighbors stay in their homes and make sure that families stay rooted in their communities even as the Bay Area continues to evolve.

In Concord, residents won a groundbreaking rent stabilization and ‘just cause’ ordinance this year following eight years of organizing efforts by groups like EBASE (East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy) and Raise the Roof Contra Costa. This landmark victory is a significant win for renters in Concord, providing much-needed protections against unjust evictions and skyrocketing rents. Despite efforts by corporate interests to derail the ordinance by trying to get a referendum on the ballot, the referendum didn’t get enough support and ultimately didn’t even qualify. A huge win for community resilience that speaks to the power of grassroots organizing! 

Meanwhile, in Redwood City, a community-led, grassroots fight for affordable housing is gaining momentum. Dedicated organizers at Faith in Action and volunteers from across the city are giving all of us hope for a victory in San Mateo County. They’ve launched the very first resident-led ballot initiative of its kind in Redwood City, and have gathered 6,300 signatures in support of rent control. That’s well beyond the 4,300 they needed to qualify for the ballot! Soon, organizers and volunteers will start engaging voters and making sure Redwood City residents know they can turn out to vote for rent control in November if the signatures qualify.

In San Pablo, residents have also gathered signatures for a package of renter protections laws to go on the local ballot in November. If residents vote for it, they’ll be creating local protections for rent stabilization, tenant anti-harassment measures, and ‘just cause’ evictions standards. And in San Anselmo, the town council has just voted to place tenant protections on the November ballot, allowing residents to vote to protect the right of return for displaced renters. The council has also passed a new rent control ordinance that will go to the voters for broader approval in November. 

These wins haven’t come without cost. We’re seeing a well-funded backlash targeting progressive electeds, which appears to be funded by corporate interests. In Millbrae, two city council members are facing a recall for supporting affordable housing. In Marin County, some of the same people who launched the Pamela Price recall are funding a recall effort to target two Fairfax town council members who supported a rent control ordinance. 

But that just means that we have to lean into this work even harder. It’s time for organizations and donors to dig deep to support these grassroots movements for housing justice. Once again, we see that the people closest to the problem hold the key to the solutions. By amplifying the stories of renters, organizers, and communities fighting for change, we hope we can help build a more inclusive and equitable future for all of us here in the Bay Area.

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