NLIHC awarded its 2017 Organizing Award to two organizations, East Bay Housing Organizations (EBHO) and the Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California (NPH), for their outstanding efforts in support of socially just public policies to ensure affordable and decent housing for low income households. The award was presented on April 3 at NLIHC’s 2017 Housing Policy Forum: Advancing Solutions in a Changing Landscape.
The NLIHC Organizing Award recognizes outstanding achievement in state, local and resident organizing. The winners of this year’s award engaged in unique campaigns, programs, and methods to pass legislation that ensures more people with the lowest incomes have affordable and decent homes.
Based in Oakland, CA, EBHO has long been known for policy and advocacy, but in the last nine years they have invested in resident leadership and organizing as a crucial part of their mission to preserve, protect and create affordable housing opportunities for low-income people. For more than a decade, the EBHO communities faced extremely high displacement of lower-income residents, particularly residents of color. In 2016, EBHO played a major role in two affordable housing ballot measure campaigns.
In the high-rent area of Alameda County (home to Oakland and Berkeley), EBHO was instrumental in getting the Board of Supervisors to place a $580 million affordable housing bond measure (A1) on the ballot. The bond included funds for everything from housing for formerly homeless people to first-time homebuyer assistance. Through community pressure including a signature-gathering campaign assisted by EBHO, the Oakland City Council added the “Protect Oakland Renters” ballot initiative (Measure JJ), which helps protect Oakland renters from illegal rent increases and unjustified evictions. EBHO resident leaders from affordable housing communities in Oakland made more than fifty presentations across the county and worked tirelessly to reach neighbors, friends, faith communities, and other local groups with the message to vote yes for affordable housing.
Both measures passed with overwhelming support in November, 2016. “Our resident leaders were recognized as a critical part of these winning campaigns,” said Gloria Bruce, EBHO executive director. “We are so glad they are being recognized by NLIHC and feel encouraged to push forward together so that low income residents can stay in diverse and affordable communities.”
Representing the nine counties of the San Francisco Bay Area, NPH activates its members to advocate for a future where everyone has an affordable and stable home. In 2016, NPH succeeded in delivering $2 billion in new revenue for affordable housing by initiating, supporting, and securing passage of three County ballot measures—Measure A (Santa Clara County), Measure A1 (Alameda County) and Measure K (San Mateo County).
In 2011, Californians faced a significant threat to affordable housing after the governor and legislature dissolved redevelopment agencies, cutting $1 billion annually statewide for housing for low-wage workers, families, seniors, people with disabilities, and veterans. NPH provided strategic guidance and support to local leaders on initiating and working for passage of the local ballot measures. NPH helped identify unique opportunities to galvanize the community, including building and mobilizing a robust resident engagement program that led to an 18% increase in resident voter registration.
“While campaigning for these initiatives, we were able to work with powerful advocates who volunteered their time and shared their personal stories to make positive change happen and to influence long term outcomes,” said Amie Fishman, NPH executive director. “We are honored to receive this award from NLIHC and recognize that this acknowledgement is not for NPH alone, but on behalf of our resident volunteers, members, and the Bay Area voters who said yes to affordable housing at the ballot.”
NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel expressed her appreciation for the work of EBHO and NPH and recognized both organizations’ tremendous efforts. “The incredible work of this year’s NLIHC award recipients is an example of how everyone can do their part to help end homelessness and housing poverty in America,” Ms. Yentel said. “EBHO and NPH created a path to success that was supported by their missions. They didn’t stray from this path and became more committed to their cause. Their tenacity was contagious, influencing hundreds of volunteers who helped them achieve their goals. We thank them for all of their hard work and powerful voices.”