Our democracy rests on public policymaking that is fully informed, transparent, and equitable. We transfer our experience as former policy makers, designers, and implementers to partner with policy leaders and community change groups. Our public policy reports, research, and data advance innovative ways to solve pressing community problems in the pursuit of community justice and racial equity.
Housing Oakland’s Unhoused. In a recent UN Report on Adequate Housing, the Special Rapporteur Leilani Farha decries that "the world has come to accept the unacceptable" with "nearly a quarter of the world's urban population living in informal settlements or encampments, most in developing countries but increasingly also in the most affluent. Living conditions are shocking and intolerable." The UN Report calls out only two US cities for human rights violations--Oakland and San Francisco, cities of great wealth and also escalating inequalities.
Led by The Village, the East Oakland Collective, and the Dellums Institute for Social Justice/Just Cities, the Housing and Dignity Project worked for almost a year to develop a community-based plan to house all of Oakland's unhoused residents: Housing Oakland's Unhoused. The plan is based upon listening sessions with unhoused residents, builds upon a human-rights best practice example implemented by The Village, and policy analysis conducted by UC Berkeley Goldman School of Public Policy's Rawan Elhalaby and Dr. Dan Lindheim. See here for Rawan's Advanced Policy Analysis.
Public Land for the People. As part of the Housing Equity plan for the City of Oakland led by DISJ's Margaretta Lin, UC Berkeley Goldman School of Public Policy's Carlos MacGregor Villarreal analyzed the City of Oakland's available land for affordable housing. Click here for Carlos' Report. At the same time, UC Berkeley City Planning student Carline Au mapped all publicly owned land in Oakland. Click here for Carline's Report. Based upon their combined research, there were close to 50 publicly owned vacant or underutilized parcels that the City's Housing Element identified as suitable for housing development, which could have produced over 7,300 new housing units. Out of these 50 parcels, 36 were owned by the City of Oakland and could have produced over 3,600 housing units.
Since then, city actions have led to some parcels being sold including for market rate development. After analyzing the City of Oakland's response on the public lands list, we estimate that there could still be 6,295 - 6,584 housing units constructed on available public land parcels, including 2,365 - 2,654 housing units on public lands owned by the City of Oakland. See here for updated list of available parcels.
During Oakland's worst housing crisis, with a 63% increase in rents since 2014, escalated evictions, and the explosion of new homelessness, we believe that the City of Oakland should utilize public land for building affordable housing, including low-cost housing innovations, rather than selling public land to market developers. As of December 2017, there are over 20,000 market rate housing units under construction or in the pipeline, compared to less than 1,500 affordable units. Stay tuned for more policy justice research and analysis as we support people powered organizing for a transformative public land policy in Oakland!
Anti-Displacement Recommendations from Our Beloved Community Action Network. We seek to continue Dr. King’s legacy and vision for creating “Beloved Community” in Alameda County in which, “All people can share in the wealth of the earth. In the Beloved Community, poverty, hunger and homelessness will not be tolerated because international standards of human decency will not allow it. Racism and all forms of discrimination, bigotry and prejudice will be replaced by an all-inclusive spirit of sisterhood and brotherhood.” Our ability to create the Beloved Community is severely undermined by the displacement crisis in Alameda County. We see critical opportunities to solve this crisis and believe the following goals are attainable through a uniting of community dedication and political will: 1)Enable every long-time resident who wants to stay and contribute to have access to new resources for tenants and homeowners. 2)Ensure that new County and City housing funds are being utilized for anti-displacement strategies. 3)Redeploy available local flexible funds to address funding gaps for major anti-displacement strategies. 4)Enact significant protective anti-displacement policies at the County, City, and State levels. Click here to view the full Report.
California’s Affordability and Displacement Crisis: The Role of the Costa Hawkins Housing Act. A report Goldman School of Public Policy commissioned by the Dellums Institute. Author: Taylor Smiley Wolfe. Date: May 2016.
There are almost 6 million renters in California and the trend is growing, more people are becoming at risk of being displaced from their homes as rents rise. With a higher proportion of the African American community (65%) and low income people being renters, they face the greatest pressure of the housing crisis. Analyzing empirical reviews on the impacts of strong rent control in California cities, the report summarizes the trade-‐offs associated with strong rent control. Second, using historical census and American Community Survey (ACS) data on racial and ethnic demographics, rents etc., the report estimates the impact of the state ban on vacancy control, the Costa Hawkins Rental Housing Act (AB1164), on affordability and displacement in cities.
Findings - Strong Rent Control: 1)Slowed or halted displacement, resulting in maintenance of a city’s socioeconomic distribution 2) Slowed the loss of Black and Latino households and promoted greater racial/ethnic diversity 3)Provided stability for low and middle-‐income renters, and senior citizens. Costa Hawkins Rental Housing Act (Qualitative): 1)Increased rent above inflation 2)Destabilized rents overall because rents were set to market rates when tenant vacated 3)Decreased total units affordable to low and middle income renters. Costa Hawkins Rental Housing Act(Quantitative): In cities with prior vacancy control rent control, Costa Hawkins is associated with: 1)2.4 percent decrease in the share of the population that is Black or African American 2)9.4 percent decrease in the share of the population that is Hispanic or Latino. 3)1.3 percent decrease in the share of the population that is over 65 years old. 4)6.7 percent increase in median gross rent. Click here to view the full Report.
Saving Homes Today: Immediate Anti-Displacement Solutions for the Alameda County Housing Bond. DISJ's Urban Justice Design Project designed anti-displacement strategies for the Alameda County $580 million Affordable Housing Bond, Measure A1, including a $45 million Home Preservation Fund to save the homes of struggling elderly homeowners, based upon a pilot program DISJ Principal, Margaretta Lin created at the City of Oakland. Once the Bond was approved by voters, DISJ and the Our Beloved Community Action Network successfully advocated for County funds once used for affordable housing development to be redeployed for anti-displacement safety net services. Report co-authors are UC Berkeley graduate students Megan Calpin, MPH & MCP, and Zoe Roller, MCP. Click here to view the full Report.
Open Data Map of California’s Housing Cost-Burdened Elders. As part of the work to convince the Alameda County Board of Supervisors to include Home Preservation strategies for elders as part of its $500 million Housing Bond, DISJ partner the Civic Engine created a map showcasing at a neighborhood level the status of elderly renters and homeowners paying more than 50% of their income towards housing: California's Shame: Why Are So Many Elderly Having to Struggle to Afford Housing. Click here to view the interactive map.
A Roadmap Toward Equity: Housing Solutions for Oakland California. At the City of Oakland, DISJ Principal, Margaretta Lin led public/private anti-displacement initiatives, including the development of a comprehensive plan to address Oakland's Housing Crisis. She commissioned PolicyLink and Urban Strategies Council to work with the City on the Oakland Housing Equity Roadmap and facilitated a process to integrate the best thinking of City departments and community stakeholders. The Oakland City Council adopted the policy framework of the Roadmap in September 2015. The Roadmap also served as the foundation for the Oakland Mayor's Housing Action Plan. Click here to view the Oakland Housing Equity Roadmap.