Housing Guiding Principles
The tech economy has driven massive growth in the Bay Area over the last decade. For some, this growth has created unprecedented windfalls. For too many others, it has meant exacerbated inequality and displacement, and the erosion of some of our most vulnerable communities.
We believe the housing crisis, specifically the region’s inability to build enough housing at all income levels to keep up with our population growth, along with persistent and systemic racial discrimination, are at the root of this problem. Since 2011 the region has created over four jobs per unit of housing, driving up costs at a rate that makes it impossible for many to keep up. Communities of color, which have been intentionally left out of growth cycles of the past, are acutely affected by the crisis.
In order for a growing economy — driven in large part by the tech industry — to benefit more people and to lift up communities that need it the most, we must find solutions to this increasingly urgent issue.
This document outlines the TechEquity Collaborative’s approach to engaging with the housing crisis, both the advocacy campaigns we will undertake and the partnerships we will build around those campaigns. These principles also represent a statement of values for our member base (primarily tech workers). It is a living document that will be re-evaluated and revised periodically, in consultation with TechEquity’s housing advisory board.
We Believe the Following to be True
Housing should be treated like the fundamental human survival need that it is, alongside food and water. We consider access to housing for all residents — regardless of income level — to be a marker of civilized society. To fail to meet this need is a tragedy and a shame.
No one should be made to feel unwelcome in the Bay Area. Bay Area residents pride ourselves on our progressive, inclusive politics and those values should extend to those who want to make this region their home. This includes newcomers and long-term residents, old and young, and all races, classes and creeds. Newcomers also should respect the perspectives of residents who have been here for decades, and seek to understand the culture, people, and history of this place they now call home.
Too often different factions in the housing fight view a win by another faction as a loss for theirs. Affordable housing developers sometimes get pitted against anti-displacement activists. Local governments play hot potato with responsibility for tackling the crisis. Piecemeal policy solutions are presented in the absence of a larger vision for how they fit together to end the housing crunch — and interest groups are left fighting for scraps.
We must create a different political dynamic that eschews either/or decisions and embraces a both/and approach. We must recognize that our fates are intertwined and adopt a spirit of collaboration if we are to break our political gridlock. The Bay Area can protect its current residents while welcoming newcomers. Building the Bay Area of tomorrow and defending the rights of existing residents do not have to be mutually exclusive goals.
Though we must be informed by our history, and place value on the existing culture of our neighborhoods, we cannot cling to the past as we look to make policy. Our population is growing, our economy is changing, and our climate and natural resources are under stress. Making policy that assumes we live in a prior century will hurt everyone.
We also need to embrace, and not repel, the companies and workers that make up the industries of the future. New, innovative people and ideas are necessary to solve this crisis. California has always been a place for entrepreneurs, and we should continue to nurture innovation and human progress, leaving no one behind in the new economy.
Production: We must build more housing at all income levels, with a priority for affordable housing
We have to build more housing.
The state needs 180,000 new units of housing every year to keep up with population growth. Over the past ten years, we have averaged only 80,000 units per year. Breaking the gridlock that creates this restriction of supply will require us to look at every side of the issue. We’ll need to innovate where it’s possible, and change political will where it’s not.
While we wait for new housing production to come online, we need to enact policies that prevent renters and low-income homeowners from losing their homes.
Protection and Preservation: We must protect vulnerable communities from being pushed out and preserve affordable housing where it already exists
While we wait for new housing production to come online, we need to enact policies that prevent renters and low-income homeowners from losing their homes. The passage of the California Tenant Protection Act of 2019 was a big first step, now we need to make sure those expanded protections are enforced.
We also need to preserve as much existing affordable housing as possible, supporting new forms of ownership such as land trusts and providing funds for nonprofit developers and public agencies to purchase privately-owned buildings to convert to permanent affordable housing.
Acknowledge and account for the racial bias inherent in the system
Underlying both of these policy priorities is a need to acknowledge that current settlement patterns and housing systems are built on a legacy of racism. Any work on housing policy must take this history into account, and support efforts to undo the effects of decades of government-sanctioned segregation and lack of investment in communities of color (particularly black communities). This means racial impacts must be included in decisions about the location and prioritization of developments and that we should favor projects that bring benefits to existing community members. We also must hold communities that have traditionally practiced exclusion in their zoning and housing policies to account, and pursue policies that can add housing opportunities for all income levels in these places.
Carol Galante is the I. Donald Terner Distinguished Professor in Affordable Housing and Urban Policy and the Faculty Director of the Terner Center for Housing Innovation. She also co-chairs the Policy Advisory Board of the Fisher Center of Real Estate and Urban Economics.
As Faculty Director for the Terner Center, Galante oversees the Center’s work and co-leads the Center’s research agenda, supervising projects that identify, develop and advance innovative solutions in local, state and federal housing policy and practice. In her role as I. Donald Terner Distinguished Professor in Affordable Housing and Urban Policy, Professor Galante teaches graduate courses on housing policy and community development, including a semester-long studio intensive course on the design and finance of affordable housing development.
Fernando Martí is co-director of the Council of Community Housing Organizations (CCHO), a coalition of 25 community- and faith-based affordable developers and housing justice advocates in San Francisco. Fernando is a licensed architect, holds Masters degrees in Architecture and City Planning from UC Berkeley, and has taught studios in the design and financing of affordable housing.
He was a founder of the SF Community Land Trust, and serves on the board of PODER, an environmental justice base-building organization in SF’s Mission and Excelsior neighborhoods. He is also an exhibiting printmaker and is a member of the Justseeds Artists’ Cooperative. An immigrant from Ecuador, he has made his home and built community as a renter in San Francisco since 1992.
Heather Hood is Vice President and leads Enterprise, Northern California. There, she leads Enterprise’s efforts in generating policy and funding innovations to address the region’s tremendous affordable housing needs, improving the buildings and services in public housing, preparing regions to be ready and resilient for disasters, and increasing local, regional and state resources for affordable housing preservation and production.
She sits on Enterprise’s national Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council. Hood most recently served as deputy director of the Enterprise- Northern California office. During this time, she co-authored The Elephant in the Region: How Bay Metro Can Lead a Bold Regional Housing Agenda, conceived Enterprise’s technical assistance approach around the state Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities program and co-chaired Oakland’s Housing Cabinet to chart a course to implement practical and impactful solutions to the city’s housing crisis.
Prior to joining Enterprise, Hood worked at The San Francisco Foundation as the initiative officer managing the Great Communities Collaborative where she was instrumental in the development of the $85 million Bay Area Transit-Oriented Affordable Housing Fund. She was a lecturer at UC Berkeley’s Department of City and Regional Planning and a co-founder and director of its Center for Community Innovation. She co-authored “The Future of Infill Housing in California: Opportunities, Potential, Feasibility and Demand” for the California Department of Housing and Community Development, which laid the groundwork for the Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act.
Heather now serves on the board of the Fund for Oakland and has served on boards such as for Transform, the American Institute of Architects and the Center for Urban Family Life. She earned her bachelor’s degree in architecture from Carnegie Mellon University, her master’s degrees in architecture and city planning from University of California, Berkeley and studied urban design and density at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark International Studies. She lives in Oakland with her family and enjoys painting, yoga, mountain sports and photographing murals.
Margaretta is passionate about big change solutions, young people leading change, and people coming across divisions to care about justice and one another. She combines her unique experiences in government, community activism, law, youth development, social enterprises, and collaboration into a force for equity and hope. She has pioneered innovations and created new community institutions working at the intersections of equitable development, race, class, community healing, government transformation, youth violence, and educational equity.
Fruits of her love and labor include the Oakland Housing Equity Roadmap, the Oakland Housing Assistance Center, the OSNI Collaborative for East Oakland development without displacement, the City of Oakland’s foreclosure prevention, foreclosed properties, and vacant lots initiatives, affordable housing in West Oakland and Oakland Chinatown, the preservation of the historic West Oakland train station and community reuse plan, Youth Together, Youth Uprising, and the Skyline High School One Land, One People Youth Center.
Margaretta served as the Deputy City Administrator and Founding Director of Strategic Initiatives for the City of Oakland and Senior Advisor to Mayor Dellums. Prior to government service, she served as Director of Community Economic Justice for the East Bay Community Law Center, Founding Director of Youth Together, researcher at ARC Associates, and Staff Attorney at Public Advocates.
Margaretta received a J.D. and Masters in Asian Studies from UC Berkeley, and a B.A. in Asian Studies and Religious Studies from University of Virginia.