Bay Area

Opinion: An Urgent Call to Address the Housing Crisis in Black Communities

We are calling on the region’s leaders and residents to support a historic $500 million Bay Area Regional Black Housing Fund.

Black communities face multiple systemic barriers that lead to massive displacement in the Bay Area. Black people have been disadvantaged in the state’s housing market for decades because of discrimination, including redlining, unequal access to wealth and good jobs, and other systemic problems.

Denzel Tongue outside of a building that reads "State of California."

Opinion: How Systemic Racism Shows Up in California—And Why We Must End It

Growing up in Oakland, I quickly saw first-hand how racism resigns people of color, and Black Americans in particular, to shorter, sicker lives.

Data shows that African Americans in Alameda County live roughly seven years fewer than the county average.

If we act now, we can radically reshape our society in a positive way. Reducing the impact of and ultimately ending systemic racism has to be at the top of the list.

Foreclosed homes draw illegal dumpers

They come in trucks, on foot, in the middle of the night or the middle of the day, slipping into the alleyway running behind 7th St. in the Iron Triangle section of Richmond, and leaving behind bags of garbage, construction debris, and just about anything too big to fit into an average trash can.

From Foreclosures to Affordable Housing

“Hello!” Anne Griffith called out as she unlocked the front door of a recently purchased home in the Elmhurst neighborhood of East Oakland. Though the house was purchased in foreclosure, and has stood empty for months, Griffith expected an answer to her call. She got one.

Immigrant Latinas get course in leadership

Walking into the classroom of Richmond’s Latina Center intimidated Maria Lourdes Sanchez. The other Spanish-speaking women in the room, who also came to develop their leadership skills, were welcoming. But Sanchez was still afraid.

A slow park in Richmond

Toody Maher’s charge to renovate the Elm play lot in Richmond is a testament to perseverance. The small park sits on a corner in the Iron Triangle neighborhood, a low-income area that sees much of Richmond’s street violence. The play structure is a primary-colored island surrounded by grass and sidewalks with no pedestrians. On a recent sunny fall afternoon, the yellow and blue slide, built to beckon children, stood empty, the swings hung still. The only sign of life was an ice cream truck that drove by slowly, with a song playing hopefully from its loudspeaker. Maher has fought for two years to change this small corner of a poor city’s poorest neighborhood through an organization she founded, Pogo Park. She’s learned to embrace the series of never-ending challenges involved in making a play space for the youngest residents of Richmond’s Iron Triangle.

Violence and Faith in East Oakland

In the past three years, two bullets shattered the front window, a teenager was shot just outside and the downstairs neighbor was mugged. Before that, a woman’s lifeless body was unearthed from a dumpster less than a block away. But this area of East Oakland — where the neighborhoods of Fruitvale and San Antonio meet — is where Dr. Joan Jie-eun Jeung chooses to live with her husband and their six-year-old son.

Eating across a social divide

Driving across the commuter bridge that connects Marin County to the city of Richmond is not just a trip across the bay. It’s also a trip across a social divide. On one side of the bridge, Marin’s rolling green hills and roadside bird sanctuaries are laced with trails and encourage biking, walking and running. Fresh produce abounds in Marin. Drive over the Richmond Bridge, and you’ll find a very different environment. In poorer neighborhoods in Richmond, people are often afraid to walk outside or take their children to the park. Healthy food is harder to find. And these differences are reflected in the health of the residents on each side of the bridge.

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