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Event Recap | Exploring Solutions with East Bay Housing Organizations

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Event Recap: 

Exploring How the Government and East Bay Housing Organizations Affect Availability of Affordable Housing Stock 

Author: Alisha Willis, PMP, Administrative Analyst at the City and County of San Francisco


The PMI SFBAC Sustainability team hosted a recent talk on affordable housing in the SF Bay Area.  This paper will shed a light on the topic and cover five points main points: 1) what affordable housing is; 2) how different government initiatives (e.g. Reaganomics, redlining) have impacted people in the United States; 3) why it is important particularly in the SF Bay Area; 4) what the East Bay Housing Organizations (EBHO) is, and 5) how people can get involved in supporting affordable housing.


What is affordable housing?

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) defines affordable housing as “housing in which the occupant is paying no more than 30 percent of gross income for housing costs, including utilities.”


How have Government initiatives impacted housing? 

Reaganomics refers to the economic policies of Ronald Reagan, the 40th U.S. president, serving from 1981–1989.  These policies were meant to “lower marginal tax rates, decrease regulation, restrain government spending, enact noninflationary monetary policy” and disproportionately impacted housing for the urban poor. EBHO and its partners mitigate the initiative’s ongoing destabilization effects with their rehousing and new housing efforts.


HUD’s 1934 Federal Housing Administration (FHA) program insured mortgages for some rather than all people who qualified. Further in 1938 FHA staff developed an Underwriting Manual valuations and risk assessments which enabled the wide-spread and far-reaching practice of mortgage-denial based on race and ethnicity (redlining). 


In 1956, after Congress passed the Federal Aid Highway Act: a $26 billion allocation for the construction of “forty-one-thousand-mile network of interstate highways that would span the country and link metropolitan areas,” highway builders seized upon FHA’s redlining policies to defend their “taking property in Black neighbors arguing that” land was cheapest there.  By design highway builders destabilized and displaced over “475,000 households and more than a million people.” These displaced people were overwhelmingly Black and poor. 


In 1974, HUD created the Housing Choice Voucher Program (HCVP) initiative attempting to mitigate harms of previous initiatives. Today this program is the largest federal low-income housing assistance program, subsidizing monthly rents for some two million people.


Why is affordable housing important particularly in the SF Bay Area?

Rising inflation is a significant factor as wages are flat or in decline for many people.  Surging housing costs, the rising cost of goods, and local job layoffs together create housing instability. “Salaries for new roles are stagnating – and in some cases, falling. Some employers may be looking to cut costs, but the lack of wage growth may be a matter of post-pandemic correction.” 


From 2022 to present, 619 of the 2,548 tech companies (24.29%) worldwide have laid off 183,621 SF Bay Area-based tech workers (35.83% of 512, 509 tech workforce in the area).  Subsequently, many of these companies canceled their third-party service provider contracts which impacted 12,000 cafeteria workers, janitors, security guards, transportation drivers, and massage therapists causing wage loss and often housing insecurity. 


What is the East Bay Housing Organizations (EBHO)?

EBHO, founded in1984, is a membership non-profit organization helmed by Lindsay Haddix (September 2023) a member, supporter, funder, and career (15+ year) affordable housing and homelessness organization worker.  



How does EBHO partner with organizations to address affordable housing?

EBHO promotes and preserves affordable housing in three ways: 

Educating elected and public officials, neighboring associations, faith-based and community organizations, the business community, and the public about the affordable housing crisis and its solutions. 


Organizing affordable housing residents and allies to lead advocacy campaigns and promote policies that create, fund, and preserve affordable housing. 


Building strong coalitions with grassroots community and interfaith groups, labor unions, environmental organizations, advocates for people who are unhoused, and non-profit affordable housing developers to work together and take action. 


How can people get involved in supporting affordable housing?

Here are six easy ways to get involved:

1) Join or support the efforts of a nonprofit housing provider or housing advocacy organization.

2) Volunteer – advocate to raise awareness, help with programs, or join a board of directors. 

3) Donate to a reputable cause. 

4) Vote on local and national affordable housing measures. 

5) Review and engage in the Nonprofit Housing Association of Northern California’s (NPH) Job Board. 

6) Connect with EBHO.


In conclusion this article has covered five points: what affordable housing is; how different government initiatives (e.g. Reaganomics, redlining) have impacted people in the United States; why it is important particularly in the SF Bay Area; what the East Bay Housing Organizations (EBHO) is, and  how people can get involved in supporting affordable housing.  Consider how you, your neighbors, and our communities have been impacted and how you might want to play a role in shifting this challenge – every little bit helps.


1. Rubin, Beth A.; Wright, James D.; and Devine, Joel A. (1992) "Unhousing the Urban Poor: The Reagan Legacy," The Journal of Sociology & Social Welfare: Vol. 19: Iss. 1, Article 8.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.15453/0191-5096.2013

2. As defined by Milton Friedman an American economist and statistician

3. Deborah N. Archer(2020) “White Men’s Roads Through Black Men’s Homes”*: Advancing  Racial Equity Through  Highway Reconstruction,  Vanderbilt Law Review https://cdn.vanderbilt.edu/vu-wordpress-0/wp-content/uploads/sites/278/2020/10/19115823/White-Mens-Roads-Through-Black-Mens-Homes-Advancing-Racial-Equity-Through-Highway-Reconstruction.pdf

4. Alex Christian, “US salaries are falling. Employers say compensation is just 'resetting' 2024,March 7,  Retrieved (May 19, 2024 ) from https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20240306-slowing-us-wage-growth-lower-salaries

5. 183, 621 of 512,509 tech workers worldwide. Per layoff. https://layoffs.fyi/ 



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