SB 827 Failed, But California Still Must Tackle Housing Crisis

SB 827 Failed, But California Still Must Tackle Housing Crisis

With yesterday’s demise of state Sen. Scott Weiner’s controversial SB 827, which would have overcome local zoning restrictions to allow for denser residential housing near transit, the question becomes, “What’s next for efforts to address California’s housing crisis?” The bill faced major headwinds and critics from all corners. Labor sought to ensure that the workers could afford to live in the homes they were building. Racial equity groups were wary of top-down zoning approaches to socially engineer our way to modernity — approaches which historically have left communities of color farther from opportunity. Finally, and certainly not least, an army of “Not-In-My-Back-Yard” NIMBYs were up in arms over Weiner’s assault…
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Who Will Save Journalism?

Who Will Save Journalism?

As both a citizen and an advocate, I’m terrified by what’s happening to journalism in America. We seem to be watching the disintegration of the news business, and no one seems to know what to do about it. Here at The Greenlining Institute, we change policy the old-fashioned way: by doing research, listening to communities, and trying to put what we learn into ideas that will help level the playing field for people and communities for whom the “American Dream” has too often seemed like a distant, improbable fantasy. Then we try to persuade those with power – legislators, regulators, corporate leaders – to put those ideas into action. That…
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Health for All: Pushing Covered California to Get It Right, and What’s Next

Health for All: Pushing Covered California to Get It Right, and What’s Next

The year 2010 represented a huge opportunity for California and the U.S. to move closer to health for all – something Greenlining always supported, though we’d had only limited involvement in advocacy around access to healthcare. Passage of the Affordable Care Act and creation of what would become known as Covered California changed the picture fundamentally. It was also a time of transition for our Bridges to Health team, which had a new director: Carla Saporta, who began attending meetings of what was then simply called California’s health benefits exchange. Conversations centered on creating a website through which Californians could access health plans offered under the ACA. “Knowing what I’d…
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Healing from Trauma Through Policy

Healing from Trauma Through Policy

When I’m trying to really get to know someone, I always ask why they do what they do. If they’re someone with the privilege to choose, the response can tell me a lot about their values and background. Up until recently, I thought I had a good answer. When folks throw the question back at me, I usually answer something along the lines of “As a person of color, I see the role race plays in determining people’s lives. I work on policy to change that.” For all this time I’ve been answering “the why” to racial justice, but never the policy part. People choose to combat racism in tons…
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The Conversation on Gun Violence Must Include Black and Brown Youth

The Conversation on Gun Violence Must Include Black and Brown Youth

The Parkland shooting and subsequent student activism have made a powerful impact. Millions of folks from around the country protested gun violence at March for Our Lives events around the country last month and those voices have grown stronger. If we want to end gun violence, our elected officials must stop lining their pockets with NRA dollars and fight for substantive gun control. But while this debate has gone on for weeks, I’ve noticed some really important groups missing from it. I’ve found myself reflecting, particularly, on what safety looks like across the country for Black and Brown youth. That’s why voices like Edna Chavez have been so important. Her…
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Outreach at UC Berkeley: Mariachi Luz de Oro Hosts Youth Mariachi at Casa

Outreach at UC Berkeley: Mariachi Luz de Oro Hosts Youth Mariachi at Casa

Born in El Paso, Texas, a tri-border city between New Mexico, Texas, and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, I grew up surrounded by Mexican culture my whole life. Finally leaving the desert to study chemical engineering at UC Berkeley felt exciting and refreshing. In the sea of faces in my engineering classes and the residence hall, it soon became obvious that I was one of the very few Latinas. This new, unfamiliar feeling of being a minority forced me to analyze my identity as a Chicana with a new lens. In search of a music ensemble as well as this exploration of my identity, I joined Mariachi Luz de Oro despite the…
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How to Save a Life: My Story of Health Policy & Empowerment

How to Save a Life: My Story of Health Policy & Empowerment

Nine years ago, I received devastating news: My aunt Michelle had passed away from cardiovascular disease. Michelle was at times a caretaker, other times a third parent, and always a friend. At the time, I was an insecure teen who had no idea what his impact on the world would be, and certainly no clue that I’d be involved in health policy. Michelle’s passing left me wracked with both grief and guilt. The shock of losing such a dear friend worsened my emotional state and forced me to acknowledge my inability to do anything to about it. Michelle’s death initially left me traumatized and disoriented, but it ultimately set me…
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Threat to Energy Efficiency and Weatherization Program Could Hurt California’s Resilient Future

Threat to Energy Efficiency and Weatherization Program Could Hurt California’s Resilient Future

Legislators this week started discussions to decide the fate of the Low-Income Weatherization Program (LIWP), a program that brings energy efficiency and utility bill savings to low-income California families. The program, whose funding Gov. Brown proposed eliminating in his proposed budget, is financed through the state’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, which directs money collected from polluters through cap-and-trade and invest it in cleaning the environment and encouraging economic growth within the most vulnerable communities. Eliminating funding for LIWP — a program that brings low-income families #energyefficiency and utliity bill savings — would be a step backwards for California. LIWP provides free or deeply discounted energy efficiency upgrades and solar power…
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Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Are Racial Justice Tools

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Are Racial Justice Tools

Diversity, equity, and inclusion are buzzwords we see often. With big companies launching brand campaigns to communicate their commitment to diversity (did you see the Superbowl ads this year?) and job boards seeing an increase in DEI roles, it’s clear that more people and organizations know that DEI work should be a priority. However, the case for DEI has become highly centered around business instead of the communities the concepts were designed to empower. It’s time to reframe diversity, equity, and inclusion as tools that focus on people and racial justice. Enter our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Framework, which explains how diversity, equity and inclusion can close the racial wealth…
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Warning of the 2008 Financial Crisis – and Stopping a New Wave of Predatory Lending

Warning of the 2008 Financial Crisis – and Stopping a New Wave of Predatory Lending

It’s considered rude to say, “I told you so,” but as far as the 2008 financial crisis goes, we did. Now a new wave of financial deregulation could set up a rerun of the predatory lending boom that devastated communities of color and tanked our entire economy. We’d had a fairly cordial relationship with Federal Reserve Board Chair Alan Greenspan going back to Greenlining’s early days in 1993-94, so we hoped that he’d listen when we told him we were worried about what was going on with adjustable-rate mortgages and subprime lending. As the housing boom started to take off in the late 1990s and early 2000s, something of a…
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