Dismantling White Supremacy in Housing: Building the Momentum

If you were at the service led by me and members of Dismantling White Supremacy on April 23, you heard about one of the origins of our country’s persistent, race-correlated inequality: policies at every level of government that systematically, deliberately segregated us by race, particularly channeling opportunities away from African-Americans and towards white European-Americans. As we reported, in our own actions we’re focusing on one of the recommendations made by the state task force on reparations to African-Americans: “Provide clean and secure public housing for vulnerable populations including those persons who are formerly incarcerated, in the foster care system, and unhoused individuals.” (Again, it is not by accident that these three groups have been disproportionately populated by African-Americans.) This builds on one of our longtime strengths and commitments as a congregation while equipping us with knowledge of the frankly white supremacist origins of the problems we now address.

So now that you are knowledgeable and fired up–if you weren’t already–there are several actions you can take to further this goal.

  1. One action we suggested in the order of service was that each person support a Rental Registry Program (RRP) in Palo Alto by writing a thank you note to the city council members who spoke to support it last month. If you haven’t done that yet, I hope you will now, using your leverage as someone who attends church and/or lives in Palo Alto.
  2. The first public meetings regarding the proposed Rental Registry Program are coming up, and your presence and comments can make a difference. The meetings are the Wednesday, May 24, Human Relations Commission (HRC) meeting and the Wednesday, May 31, Planning & Transportation Commission (PTC) meeting. Both will discuss  the draft RRP ordinance and a draft initial rental unit registration form. To learn more, please visit the City’s Renter Protection Policy Development webpage or contact Rebecca Atkinson at Rebecca.Atkinson@CityofPaloAlto.org.
  3. Another set of public hearings concerns the Eviction Reduction Just Cause and Security Deposit Limit Ordinance. The City Council directed staff to return with a draft ordinance limiting a security deposit for unfurnished rental units to 1.5x the monthly rent, and another draft ordinance to extend just cause eviction protections to more rental units in Palo Alto (specifically, those that received a Building Department certificate of occupancy within the past 15 years). The draft ordinance will go directly before the City Council before the end of June 2023, so the next few weeks are the time to weigh in. The date is to be determined, but probably early June.
  4. Here at home, let the UUCPA Board know what you think about endorsing California SB4 (Affordable Housing on Faith and Higher Education Lands Act) as a congregation. The bill would allow religious institutions and private institutions of higher education to build affordable housing on their property using a streamlined approval process. Labor used on larger projects would still have to be paid prevailing construction wages and would require health care benefits for construction workers, and while projects would be exempt from a full environmental impact report under CEQA (the California Environmental Quality Act), they would be required to complete a “Phase 1 Environmental Assessment.” Our Action Council strongly recommends the endorsement. You can learn more here, and write to the Board at board@uucpa.org.
  5. Likewise, if you support SB4, contact your State Senator with a short message. Identifying yourself as a member of a faith community gives your opinion more weight.

To summarize: write a thank-you note; attend one or more public hearings; encourage our Board to endorse SB4; encourage your state senator to do the same.
To be notified of the Eviction Reduction City Council meetings, and other housing actions as they come along, send an email to HousingAdvocacy+subscribe@uucpa.org

Leadership Opportunity

Become UUCPA’s liaison to LifeMoves. Brian Weller has been in that role–thank you, Brian!–but wishes to pass it on so that he can focus on a

LifeMoves project, Vendome Hotel, in his town of San Mateo. The liaison would connect us in as many ways as possible with the Opportunity Center in Palo Alto (to which we contributed a great deal, and which is our Undie Sunday partner) and with the larger LifeMoves community as a resource board member. We can further our work greatly by bringing an anti-racist lens to this essential work. Please write to ActionCouncil@uucpa.org if you are interested.

Continuing Education

  1. Mountain View’s Human Relations Commission is hosting an event called A Place Called Home, Thursday, May 25, 6:30 pm, at the MV Community Center. The HRC writes: “The HRC will bring together several of our unstably housed neighbors to share their stories: their day-to-day challenges, their hopes, their humanity. Housing insecurity is not just what you think of as visible homelessness. Along with those who lack shelter, we will also hear from people like seniors, families living many to one house, those in below-market rate housing, and more, hearing their amazing stories of persistence. We will also have an art showcase, featuring dozens of works by housing insecure residents, including youth. Ample time is planned for community discussion and connection.” Please register at EventBrite.
  2. Dismantling White Supremacy, while also moving into other areas of learning such as Asian-American history, will continue to have sessions on the reparations commitment.

If you would like to receive reminders before each session and are not subscribed to the email list, please email dismantlingwhitesupremacy+subscribe@uucpa.org.  Zoom information for the session will be sent to this list in the day or two ahead of time. We welcome new attendees at any time!

Thanks for keeping the momentum going!

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