This February, East Bay Housing Organizations honors Black History Month. The fight for Black liberation is integral to our work.
The lack of affordable housing in the East Bay disproportionately affects the Black community, due to ongoing and historical policies that create structural inequality. We cannot advance racial equity without housing justice, and we cannot achieve housing justice without Black liberation.
- Black people are more likely to be unhoused.In Alameda County, 43% of homeless people are Black, despite the fact that Black people only make up 10% of the population. In Contra Costa County, 29% of the homeless population is Black, compared to 9.5% of the general population.
- The gap between white and Black homeownership rates is even larger now than it was in 1960. In 2022, 75% of white households in the U.S. owned their home compared to just 45% of Black households.
- Bay Area landlords were twice as likely to evict Black renters during the COVID-19 pandemic than white renters.
Black organizers have been leaders in the housing justice movement since day one. Their advocacy helps to guide our work, and reminds us that Black liberation is possible.
As a Black queer feminist organizer and activist, I’ve spent my career fighting for a beloved world without prisons or police. Today I want to highlight two Black-led organizations that I draw on for inspiration.
— Ronnie Boyd, Community, Faith & Justice Organizer
The Poor People’s Campaign
The Poor People’s Campaign is a movement founded by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and others in 1968 that has since been reignited.
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s unfinished work aims to “challenge the lie of scarcity in the midst of abundance” and demand that the 140 million poor and low-income people in America no longer be ignored.
In 2023, The Poor People’s Campaign is a Black-led organization that makes clear that all of our liberation is interconnected. Its leaders and structure focus on the intersecting injustices of structural racism, poverty, ecological destruction, and war, all of which were King’s concerns right before his assassination. Amidst the campaign’s demands for abundance is a call for housing justice for all:
“We demand that all evictions and foreclosures are immediately ceased. We demand an end to homelessness and the criminalization of unhoused people, including with the immediate provision of existing housing to people who need it, rather than government sponsored encampments and congregate shelters. We demand the expansion of quality, affordable public housing. These provisions must be made available to all in need, regardless of gender, documentation or carceral status.”The Poor People’s Campaign Third-Reconstruction Agenda, Item #7
Last year, I had the opportunity to connect the work we were doing at EBHO to the Poor People’s Campaign. I believe that if we were going to have a faith-rooted lens to housing justice, we must partner with the organization doing that work on a the local, state and national levels.
The Poor People’s Campaign carries on the legacy of Dr. King for a new generation of freedom fighters. I, myself, am inspired by the work of this justice-seeking movement and I aim to follow the wisdom of Dr. King and his millions of followers.
Moms 4 Housing
Moms 4 Housing is a group of unhoused and marginally housed mothers based in Oakland fighting to ensure housing for all.
In 2019, Dominique Walker and others took a brave leap of faith when they occupied a vacant Oakland home owned by a real estate company. These mothers were worried for their own safety and the safety of their children as they navigated precarious housing situations. They knew they had to take a stand against housing speculation destroying the Oakland community.
“Homelessness has devastated my family. Not only was I homeless for three years, but my mom is homeless. My uncle is homeless. This is what the Black community is going through. We are being displaced. Our families, our communities, our lives are being destroyed by this housing crisis.”Bry’ana Waller, Moms 4 Housing
When I saw those mothers on the news, I knew what they were doing was groundbreaking. We need more folks willing to sacrifice and get in the face of the system. These mothers did and it paid off.
Since their first direct action, the moms’ home was purchased by the Oakland Community Land Trust, the mothers have been housed, and they have become community leaders in the fight for housing justice. Dominique Walker has since been elected to the Berkeley Rent Board, and the other mothers have continued their fight for housing justice not just in Oakland, but across the East Bay.
We’ve been lucky enough at EBHO to get to work with them on several campaigns since, including the fight for tenant protections in the unincorporated areas of Alameda County.
What Comes Next
Do these stories move you to action? In order to build a better world, everyone needs a seat at the table.
We invite you to join EBHO and help us further the movement for Black liberation!