It’s hard to believe that just one year ago, 1,500 of us stood together and publicly launched Faith In The Valley at the Founding Convention.
We are so proud of all that we have accomplished together since then. One of the many big wins across the Valley this past year is the new breakthrough rental housing inspection program to enforce healthy standards for rental properties. This was one of the key issues that was identified when Faith in the Valley asked more than 1,000 Fresnans which issues they wanted to see prioritized by their next mayor. At the top of the list was addressing substandard housing and rebuilding community-police trust.
This is a launching point to address the growing housing crisis across the Central Valley as well as other pressing issues. Stockton, for example, has had the largest increase in home prices in the nation over the past five years, which is forcing long time residents to move or to make choices between paying the rent or paying for food or health care for their children. Many have become homeless.
Many Fresno residents, especially low-income renters, have been living in substandard housing that is unsafe or unhealthy for years. They didn’t feel they could complain because they were afraid of being evicted from their homes.
This rental housing issue in Fresno had been deliberated on-and-off for more than 20 years in city council.
Part of our success in overcoming the barriers that have prevented this issue from passing for over 20 years came from our partnerships with groups like Building Healthy Communities, as well as our new structures and systems in Faith In The Valley. Now, we can better share learning and tips from this success across all of our Valley communities.
Together, we are pushing past the barriers across the Valley that for too long have allowed our families to suffer. In the words of Faith in the Valley Board member Reza Nekumanesh, “We stand for justice in our communities because our families can no longer wait. Our stand must be now, immediate, bold and lasting.”
Your bold leadership over the past year has put the spotlight on the sanctity of families and the importance of redemption, mercy and second chances. You have fought back tirelessly against the forces of white supremacy and deportations.
Just this past year, your leadership and support has contributed to:
- Making a California a sanctuary state with the passage of SB54, along with many partners, and built support to pass the first Sanctuary policy in the Valley;
- Launching the Legal Defense Fund and the Valley Watch Network, which protects thousands of vulnerable immigrant families from deportations;
- Providing a powerful voice in support of SB 31 (the Religious Freedom Act) and in resistance to a Muslim Registry, helping to ensure that California is leading the country against the politics of fear and scapegoating, and instead working towards a vision that honors our immense religious diversity;
- Reaching 18,258 new and infrequent voters in low-income communities of color that have been historically and systematically marginalized from the decision-making process in the Valley;
- Launching a campaign for clean air, elevating new voices to end the air pollution crisis that is harming families in the Valley;
- Fighting to protect the Affordable Care Act and MediCal;
- Advocating for systemic solutions to end gun violence, and an end to racially biased policing practices.
We look forward to continuing this life-changing work in 2018 and beyond, and are deeply grateful for your support. You are helping to build a different and better future for the Central Valley, one rooted in love, hope, justice, possibility, and inclusion. If you would like to continue to support our work, please make a donation here.