Gentrification and resulting displacement have threatened deeply-rooted communities in the Bay Area’s historic urban core for decades. Public Advocates works with groups throughout the Bay on local and regional campaigns to make investments in existing low-income communities more responsive to the needs of existing residents and to strengthen policies that protect these residents from displacement pressures.
As part of our 6 Big Wins for Social Equity campaign, we convene a Bay Area wide network of advocates working to achieve Investment Without Displacement. This group of grassroots and advocacy organizations is dedicated to ensuring that public and private investments and incentives strengthen and stabilize communities vulnerable to gentrification and displacement through regional planning and local campaigns. The region took an important step forward on this issue in early 2011 when the Bay Area’s regional agencies adopted preventing displacement as a goal for the long-range transportation and land use plan that they are currently developing.
Increased housing costs, wealthier newcomers, and dying local businesses have been forcing tens of thousands of low-income people of color from places like San Francisco’s Mission neighborhood and Oakland’s Temescal, to say nothing of the historic pattern of displacement that took place in the Fillmore and other neighborhoods in decades past. The same pressures loom in communities around the Bay, from East Palo Alto to West Santa Rosa, from San Francisco and Oakland China Towns to East San Jose. Many of these neighborhoods have suffered from systematic disinvestment since the post-WWII rise of the suburbs, and the families who stayed in them have both paid the price of inequitable government investment policies and built strong interpersonal and community assets to compensate and sustain themselves. Now, changing tastes, evolving employment patterns, an emphasis on transit oriented development, and efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are bringing new investment into these neighborhoods. Without strong community advocacy, however, those investments tend to drive out existing communities rather than building on existing community assets to enhance the lives of longstanding residents.
Public Advocates partners with activists at the local and regional level to develop local and regional strategies to bring investment without displacement to low-income communities around the Bay. We are working to collect and advance established tools such as fair rent and just cause eviction protections, condominium conversion regulations, job preservation and training, and community benefits package. At the same time, we are developing new techniques to use regional government decision-making to promote local anti-displacement policies.