California's leaders must practice equity, turning commitment into actionable equity strategies in our state’s immediate response to the crisis, recovery efforts, and while the world works to reshape the global economy. The Greenlining Institute support policies that support low -income neighborhood communities of color to build long term resilience so that they are better prepared for future emergencies
We are experiencing a health workforce shortage crisis. In particular, there are not enough medical providers of color to reflect the racial, ethnic, linguistic, and cultural diversity of our state. To provide meaningful employment and quality culturally competent care, California must continue to invest in health career pathway training, educational loan forgiveness, and financial assistance programs for aspiring health professionals and students from underrepresented backgrounds. As our state moves quickly to hire COVID-19 testers and contact tracers to respond to emerging needs of a new public health workforce, it is imperative that people of color are trained and hired as community health workers and that these jobs transition into long term meaningful employment opportunities.
The safety and well-being of all Californians through the COVID-19 pandemic depends on a strong safety net that allows all of us to shelter in place while it is necessary to do so. However, even while expanding the amount, duration, and accessibility of unemployment insurance, the federal government has chosen to continue to exclude undocumented workers – essential workers who make up the backbone of California’s shared prosperity -- from this assistance. We support the proposal from Assemblymember Ash Kalra and 13 other legislators for creation of a temporary, partial income replacement program for excluded workers who are not eligible for unemployment insurance and who are unemployed or underemployed as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic. While this is far less help than what other workers are currently eligible for, we believe it will provide a base level of support towards ensuring that undocumented and mixed status families can survive this pandemic and rebuild their lives.
To advance equity and address the unique needs of the most vulnerable in our state the bond proposal must:
- Secure adequate climate resilience funding for projects providing direct and meaningful benefits to priority communities (see below);
- Create a process to define “vulnerable populations” in the context of climate adaptation (see more below);
- Include procedural equity provisions to ensure robust and meaningful community engagement, particularly from priority populations;
- Provide funding for capacity building and technical assistance;
- Include strong anti-displacement provisions and other protections for renters, businesses, cultural institutions, and neighborhood-serving facilities;
- Connect workforce training opportunities to jobs created by the bond funding, while prioritizing low-income residents with employment barriers.
In the wake of COVID-19, continued investment in existing programs that we know reduce poverty and pollution, advance economic opportunity, and build community resilience must drive bond investments. Sector-specific investments must meet a triple bottom line of creating genuine economic stimulus, meeting community climate resiliency needs, and centering equity. We recommend supporting the Low-Income Weatherization Program, Transformative Climate Communities, and Urban and Community Forestry as foundational programs that meet these criteria and are appropriate for bond investments. We also recommend funding new approaches that build community resilience such as community resilience centers, healthy homes, and distributed energy systems.
California currently lacks a way to identify communities most vulnerable to climate change and crises in general. California needs a tool to help prepare for emergencies and proactively prepare communities. The development of a climate vulnerability mapping platform integrating scientific projections, socioeconomic factors, and adaptive capacity factors would lay the groundwork needed to protect California’s most vulnerable populations from climate disasters so that policymakers can see the full picture and prioritize decision-making accordingly. This effort could integrate information derived from vulnerability assessments of critical infrastructure and public services, focusing on their capacity to withstand changing climate conditions (e.g. electric grid, broadband, and water infrastructure).
Some of the state’s biggest industries are using this public health emergency as an excuse to weaken public health protections. Weakening or delaying needed, health-based standards would damage both our economy and our health. Smart regulatory standards drive innovation and save lives and money. While the Trump administration continues, even during this crisis, to roll back sensible standards at the behest of polluters, California must stand firm in defense of public health. State government and agencies must provide strong leadership at this time and not allow industry or local regulators to backslide on science-based solutions that provide measurable health, environmental and economic benefits.
Many Californian households depend on outdated technologies for internet access -- making it difficult or impossible to use increasingly important technologies such as videoconferencing. This infrastructure investment would not only help bridge the digital divide, but also provide jobs to help soften the impact of the economic downturn. The governor has pledged $50 million for broadband deployment in this year’s budget, but there is a significant risk that those funds will be eliminated from the budget. California needs to fund significant investment in statewide broadband infrastructure upgrades and buildout to help our economy recover and give all communities a fair chance.
Decarbonizing or getting rid of fossil fuels from CA’s buildings means more than just upgrading the technology that allows people to access and use clean energy. Decarbonization means cleaning up the air that we breathe, improving the safety of our families, and increasing the amount of money left in our pockets. California should not repeat its past mistakes in funding and implementing clean energy policies that do not benefit the communities most impacted by pollution and climate change. To change this familiar but inequitable paradigm, California decision makers must prioritize decarbonization policies that result in real benefits for our communities such as housing and energy security and affordability, our residents’ increased health, safety, and comfort, and quality jobs that provide family-sustaining wages and benefits. The state should consider dedicated programs to ensure prioritized communities access the health and resiliency benefits of electrification first and not last.