Community Spotlight – Emily Ann Ramos
Tech workers from across the Bay Area are joining TechEquity’s network and are giving their time, skills, and financial support to make their communities more equitable. We’re proud of our growing community full of smart, passionate, engaged citizens, and we want to celebrate their contributions!
Emily Ann Ramos found her passion and footing in the housing space and has never looked back. Currently, she is the Preservation and Protection Associate at Silicon Valley at Home (SV@Home), where she works in community building and tenant protections. Previously, Emily worked as a Web Developer/UX Researcher at Code for San Jose, where she helped design and generate a fully interactive HTML Prototype for a Renter’s Guide. Additionally, Emily spends her free time continuing her advocacy efforts outside of work as the Co-Lead for Mountain View YIMBY.
What’s one of the most significant issues that you care about in the state of California? What inspired you to get involved in work surrounding this issue?
An issue that has completely immersed my entire life is housing. I follow the three P’s to solve the housing crisis here in California, which is to produce housing at all levels, preserve affordable housing, natural and subsidized, and to protect tenants. I’m passionate about housing because without your home, you don’t have the stability you need to build your community and realize your full potential. Through my volunteer experience with the Obama re-election campaign, I realized that you actually couldn’t be involved with politics without addressing housing. It encapsulates everything in the Bay Area. It’s why people have not been able to escape poverty, why we continue to see racial inequities between and within our cities, and why we have bad traffic and poor air quality. It’s kind of like the Wu-Tang clan song; Cash Rules everything around me, housing rules everything around me.
Why should tech workers care about issues affecting their communities?
When I was a kid, I always knew that I would be in tech; I was just one of those kids that would take down their alarm clocks, to see what’s inside and see what makes it work. I realized that you could do that in politics as well. You can tear it down and see how it works. You know how some people go to LA because they want to be a movie star or a singer? Similarly, if you want to go and fix things in the world, you want to be in Silicon Valley. But Silicon Valley has its issues, housing included; we need big solutions to fix these problems. Tech workers can help solve these problems by just sitting in front of their computers. There’s a lot of UX work that basic government programs need help figuring out, tech skills that can immensely help your community. There’s so much work to be done, but we need all hands on deck. We need intelligent people and optimistic people; we need innovative people to make that happen, and tapping into the tech community is a great place to start.
How can tech workers use their power and privilege to advance structural change and fight for their communities?
If you are working in Silicon Valley, there’s a sense that you already believe that you can make significant changes in our world, whether it’s through coding, project management, or marketing skills. Whatever skill it is, there is this sense that you know that you can impact this world. So I’m asking you to make change locally by getting involved with your local advocacy groups. Or better yet, attend your city council meetings. It’s a fascinating process, but as you get engaged with what’s happening in your neighborhood, you’ll notice that in some cases, local legislators who speak for you may not represent the views that you have. And you’ll realize that, more than ever, you need to have your voice at that table and show up for your community.
What’s a TechEquity project that resonates with you?
I had heard about TechEquity’s work on the Tenant Protection Act of 2019, also known as AB 1482, but had joined to support the revamped effort to help renters understand their protections through tenantprotections.org. I’m trying to catalog all the current tenant protections on the local and state level in California. Because every city is unique, they may offer other protections than what the town next to them provides to their tenants, and so on. The problem is that people don’t know what those protections are, and they need a tool to understand them to stay in their homes. I’m excited to share people’s rights when it comes to staying in their homes by making it easier for people to understand these laws and making a tool like tenantprotections.org more accessible to everyone in our community.
What motivated you to get involved with TechEquity?
I chose to become a member of TechEquity because I believe that tech has a place in making this area more equitable, inclusive, diverse, and just better for everyone. It’s in our DNA to want to make the world a better place. But that requires us to take a more complex look at historical inequities and old racist policies, even policies within the company you work for. That’s hard to do, but it further emphasizes that you need an organization like TechEquity Collaborative to help you organize and educate yourself to do outreach.
I love the concept of TechEquity. It recognizes that “techies” are more than just people who bar hop, sit in their offices at Google, and then go home. The default consensus is that tech workers are not part of the community. However, TechEquity is an organization that says no; tech workers are residents, neighbors, and community members who have the power to make our community inclusive, diverse, innovative, and influential. I love TechEquity’s mission of taking almost an untapped resource, who believe in the promise of Silicon Valley because of their work, to drive social change, because we all know we need it.