By Antonio Ray Harvey, California Black Media
Last week, the Bay Area Black Housing Advisory Task Force (BABHATF) — a coalition of more than 40 groups with housing and community expertise — unveiled a $500 million plan to make housing more accessible and affordable for black families.
BABHATF is calling on area leaders and residents to support the Bay Area Regional Black Housing Fund initiative. The organization is also asking the Legislature to include funding for the effort in this year’s state budget.
The task force is backed by Assemblymember Lori Wilson (D-Suisun) who was sworn in April 6 after winning a special election in the 11e Assembly Quarter.
The investment “will help redress the injustices that have shaped Black housing experiences in the Bay Area and California,” BABHATF leaders said in a letter written to raise awareness of an issue the group says applies to the whole state.
“It will also create new opportunities to expand black housing in places where they have been largely – and still are – excluded. Increasing Black home ownership will benefit our entire region,” task force members Fred Blackwell and Melissa Jones said in the letter.
“The work we are doing to reduce the rent burden for Black people will pave the way for the entire Bay Area,” the letter continues.
Blackwell is CEO of the San Francisco Foundation, a community nonprofit committed to advancing racial equity and economic inclusion. Jones is executive director of the Bay Area Regional Health Inequities Initiative. Her work focuses on health, social inequalities and well-being.
The task force points out that there has been no regional response to the well-documented impact of California’s housing crisis on black communities. He believes a “targeted solution” is needed for a “problem rooted in racial injustice,” Blackwell and Jones wrote.
The California Housing Finance Agency (CalHFA) reports that black homeownership rates are the lowest among California’s ethnic groups.
The homeownership rate for blacks was 50.98% at its peak in 2004. Since then, homeownership rates for black Californians have fallen at a steeper curve than any other group. racial and ethnic lines of the state.
In the early 2000s, several mortgage lenders specifically targeted black buyers with subprime loans. High default rates on these loans contributed to the Great Recession, which began in 2007 and lasted until 2009. As a result, black homeownership has fallen more than 10% since 2004 and has yet to recovered, according to CalHFA.
BABHATF exemplifies the impact of affordable housing on black communities across the state, pointing out that there is no major ethnic group overrepresented in the state’s homeless population than blacks.
Various reports indicate that 150,000 Californians are homeless each night and nearly 40% are black.
“We envision a Bay Area with thriving, healthy and resilient Black communities where all Black residents have a home. We want a region that rebuilds black commercial districts destroyed by freeway development, recoups black property losses from racially targeted loan programs that led to the Great Recession, and creates the affordable housing our region has never had. failed to deliver over the past two decades,” Blackwell and Jones said.
The task force is confident that with California’s $98 billion budget surplus, there is a historic and unprecedented opportunity to help right past wrongs and invest in Black communities and housing. .
The group is asking the Legislature to include the fund in the state budget this fiscal year. The fund will create more affordable housing with a $500 million investment that includes:
#1: Financial support for initiatives such as down payment assistance for low- and middle-income Black households, preservation of Black housing and neighborhoods, pre-development resources for housing development by developer-led developers Black people and the preservation of cultural quarters and anchor institutions.
No. 2: Community support to strengthen small Black-led community groups so they can better meet the housing needs of Black communities, as well as community planning to develop ideas and plans for future projects.
The Bay Area’s black community has been disadvantaged in the state’s housing market for decades due to discrimination, including redlining, unequal access to wealth and good jobs, and other systemic issues.
All of these issues have been discussed over the past 12 months in meetings conducted by the California Task Force to Study and Develop Proposed Reparations for African Americans, under Assembly Bill (AB) 3121. .
BABHATF says increased disadvantages will leave Black communities facing multiple systemic barriers leading to mass displacement in the Bay Area
“As a result, San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley each lost between 40% and 50% of their black residents between 1990 and 2018. In Oakland alone, more than 60,000 black residents left. East Palo Alto saw a 66% decline. It is a profound loss,” Blackwell and Jones said.
Statewide anti-housing efforts received a partial boost last week. Homeownership for low and moderate incomes got closer to reality after the California Senate approved a plan to create a $25 billion fund funded by general obligation bonds approved by voters.
Senate Bill (SB) 1457, drafted by Majority Leader Senator Emeritus Bob Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys), is now before the House for consideration. It establishes the California Family Home Construction and Homeownership Bond Act of 2022.
If SB 1457 passes voters in the November 2022 ballot, it will authorize the $25 billion bond fund to finance homeownership opportunities and promote the construction of new homes.
Hertzberg said “the underlying problem is simple: a lack of supply” and says his plan “addresses this problem head-on.
“California policymakers have a responsibility to create more opportunity for first-time homebuyers and left-behinds,” Hertzberg said. “Buying a home, achieving a middle-class lifestyle, and building generational wealth cannot be accomplished without addressing the severe lack of housing production that is fueling the state’s homeownership crisis.”