SACRAMENTO, Calif., May 18, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — In May 2020, amid the Covid-19 pandemic, Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson has introduced a bill that will prove detrimental to affordable homeownership in the state of California. SB 950, authored by Senator Jackson, will strengthen the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), a law that has been dangerously used as a tool to deny people of color access to homes in their communities. The Two Hundred, an assembly of veterans of the civil rights and social justice movements, headed by vice-chair, political activist John Gamboa, has tirelessly worked for years to mitigate the growing racial wealth gap in California. To oppose the bill, they have taken their campaigning to the people by launching a Change.org petition. The petition, “Help Make Homeownership Possible Again – Stop Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson from Passing SB950,” has already garnered hundreds of support signatures.
The Two Hundred has documented and exposed how a group of predominately white activists have been able to effectively wield CEQA to halt home building in selected neighborhoods. By citing environmental concerns, these activists have systematically filed frivolous lawsuits that have effectively shut down construction sites throughout California. A Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) assisted study revealed that 14,000 housing units were opposed by CEQA lawsuits in the last several years!
“The Two Hundred has been waging an uphill battle in court,” explains John Gamboa. “With the launch of our Change.org petition we are hoping to gain even more ground in our efforts to halt this ominous bill. While Senator Jackson is busy supporting these efforts under the guise of environmental concerns, the needs of people of color are being blatantly ignored.”
The racial wealth gap divide, exacerbated by California’s housing crisis, was created, in part, by the catastrophic economic impact of the Great Recession, when millions of Americans, especially households of color, lost what little equity they owned. The Two Hundred, who also advocate for millennials and students, believe that the shortage of affordable housing; the high cost of land; the mindset of developers and state policies that favor multi-family rentals; and ever increasing rents, continue to lock out marginalized communities from the wealth-building legacy opportunities that created affluence for white, middle class families.
The Two Hundred, under the direction of Gamboa, intend to send a letter with the petition signatures to all the legislators, including Senator Jackson, after they are scheduled to return to session in May. They are hoping to appeal to Senator Jackson to take into consideration the well-beingness of all Californians, particularly people of color and students, and not just the special interest of a selective and elite minority.
John Gamboa is a veteran community activist. His advocacy work began in 1968 when he became involved with the anti-Vietnam War and Civil Rights movements. While attending UC Berkeley, he started doing community activities around racial discrimination. He launched the Latino Issues Forum, which focused on the economic injustices that Latinx people faced, and then later The Greenlining Institute, a multi-ethnic coalition focused on combating redlining practices.
Since 2006, John has served as President of the Board of Directors of California Community Builders (CCB) alongside colleagues from Greenlining. The Two Hundred is an initiative of CCB and focuses primarily on mitigating the growing racial wealth gap through homeownership and home building in California. Prominent members include Elaine Brown, a former leader of the Black Panther Party; Joe Coto, former chair of the Latino Legislative Caucus; Herman Gallegos, the co-founder of National Council of La Raza, now known as UnidosUS, and attorney Jennifer Hernandez of the law firm Holland and Knight. The group’s activism efforts include a groundbreaking civil rights lawsuit against the California Air Resources Board.
“The Covid-19 pandemic is dealing a devastating blow to us all, but people of color will suffer from it the most,” cites Gamboa. “An ongoing practice of blatant discrimination, namely redlining by government, financial institutions, realtors and brokers, has deeply impacted homeownership for non-white families. A decade ago, the wealth gap was such that white families were six times wealthier than minority families. Today, they’re 10 times wealthier. We are hoping that our Change.org petition will help the people’s voices be heard!”
To sign the petition, go to Change.org at “Help Make Homeownership Possible Again – Stop Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson from Passing SB950.
Check out The Two Hundred video which shows how homeownership housing is being stopped in its tracks at https://vimeo.com/242696428.
Photo of John Gamboa: https://imagizer.imageshack.com/v2/640x480q90/922/eoRP8X.jpg
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