Pastor Curtis L. Smith has been named interim executive director of Faith in the Valley,…
In response to the longstanding and growing housing and evictions crisis in the Central Valley, Faith in the Valley grassroots leaders, clergy, and student partners have endorsed the Homes Guarantee, a framework for change that would guarantee that every Central Valley resident has safe, accessible, sustainable and permanently affordable housing. Following hundreds of conversations with impacted residents across the Valley, faith leaders and students will come together on May 4 at 5pm to officially launch and share their theory of change, which is rooted in the Homes Guarantee.
Faith in the Valley and partners see the Homes Guarantee as the North Star that will guide the formation of a Central Valley strategy for housing justice over the next 10 years. While everyone deserves safe, accessible, and affordable housing, this is far from the reality in the Central Valley, where low-income people of color face enormous housing burdens. Even prior to the COVID-19 crisis, Central Valley counties had some of the highest eviction rates in the state and the majority of affordable housing remains substandard, forcing families to tolerate unsafe and unhealthy living conditions. Faith in the Valley’s research has shown that nearly 100,000 renter households across San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Merced, Fresno and Kern counties are currently vulnerable to eviction in this pandemic. Leaders like Flor, in Merced, testify, “the rent is too high.” Jessica, a mother of 5 and leader in Fresno, shares, “[i]t’s like all we work for is to pay our rent. I’m tired, stressed, mentally losing it. It’s to the point where I want to pack and move elsewhere.”
Dr. Janine Nkosi, Faith in the Valley Regional Advisor, says, “Hundreds of thousands of families are in jeopardy of losing their homes. … We know that our elected officials have named the homelessness crisis and housing crisis as top priority across all counties. They have brought solutions to try to mitigate the problem, but their solutions don’t get at the underlying root causes of the crisis. What we are missing is a North Star vision to truly transform housing as we know it. The Homes Guarantee is truly a vision for housing that can address the systemic causes of the housing crisis.”
Faith in the Valley grassroots leaders, students and clergy are encouraging decision makers to take the courageous step to both endorse the Homes Guarantee for the Central Valley and to commit to invest just-released American Rescue Plan federal funds through the Homes Guarantee framework. This year’s American Rescue Plan allocates $16 billion to California cities and counties and last year’s CARES Act allocated $15 billion. Much of this money is meant to be invested in the housing and homelessness crisis but the question is in which strategies and programs. Political will is needed to ensure that the Central Valley divests from the status quo and invests in the Homes Guarantee solution that “begin(s) to repair some of the longstanding, unjust policies and practices that have created a tremendous wealth gap and other inequities in our housing system.”
To get involved, join us from 6-7:30pm on Friday, May 7, for the Homes Guarantee Virtual Community Teach-In. Register here.