IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Orange County Register: How California’s environmental rules deprive minorities of housing opportunities

BERKELEY, CA— The Orange County Register is the latest news organization to call out new regulations by the state that are inherently racist and disproportionately impact minority communities, depriving them of housing options and keeping more families in the cycle of poverty. In response, The Two Hundred recently filed a civil rights lawsuit against the state for a series of racially biased policies designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Orange County Register:  How California’s environmental rules deprive minorities of housing opportunities

California’s landmark environmental law is being used to promote racist redlining housing policies, according to a lawsuit filed by a group of liberal activists.

As readers of these editorial pages know, the California Environmental Quality Act has been abused in ways beyond anything having to do with the environment by NIMBYs to block development and by unions to extort preferential treatment.

But a relatively new state regulation added to the CEQA process has had disastrous effects on low-income minority communities, trapping them in a cycle of poverty and forcing them further from job centers or out of the state entirely.

As noted in the lawsuit, housing costs increase $19,000 per mile and the median rent for two-bedroom apartments shoots up $33 per month per mile. This increase in costs disproportionately affects minority groups.

Homeownership is one of the best ways to create generational wealth. Not everyone wants to own a home, but those who do, especially those who want to create wealth, find it difficult to break into homeownership because of prohibitive costs.

Click here to read the entire article.

The Two Hundred’s Film Gets Prize for Documenting Historical Roots of 

The Homeownership and Wealth Gap Between Whites, Minorities

BERKELEY, Ca (Nov. 1, 2019) The Two Hundred’s short film “Redlined, A Legacy of Housing Discrimination” has won the Grand Festival Educational Documentary Award at the 28th Annual Berkeley Video and Movie Festival.

Blending historical footage and interviews with housing experts, the 15-minute film traces the legacy of housing discrimination by government programs and financial institutions that shut African Americans and other minorities out of homeownership for decades.

That disparity in homeownership rates continues and “is at the core of the racial wealth gap today,” the film maintains.

Mel Vapour, Festival Director, said “the jury was very impressed with their piece. There was a splendid use of archival footage from the ‘50s and ‘60s, and in a short very period of time it told a unique story about redlining. It’s very skillfully made.”

Directed by Angel Cardenas, and written and produced by Ron Chavez, “Redlined” was one of 37 documentaries entered for the festival, which receives about 150 submissions a year.

“We are thrilled to receive such a prestigious honor from the Berkeley Video and Film Festival,” said John Gamboa, vice-chair of The Two Hundred, a coalition of community leaders and advocates. ‘More importantly, we’re gratified that the award will underscore our message that we need to reverse give families of color a chance to own their own home and start closing the wealth gap in America.”

“Redlined” will be screened at 3:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 3, at the East Bay Media Center, located at 1939 Addison Street.


For Press Inquiries: 

Ron Chavez


LOS ANGELES, Calif. (October 22nd, 2019) – BizFed Institute (BFI), in partnership with the California Latino Economic Institute (CLEI), and The Two Hundred, are pleased to announce a regional forum titled “State of Housing for Latinos in LA”.

A strong Latino middle class is crucial to the economic prosperity of the Los Angeles Metropolitan Area and California. Dr. Mindy Romero will present her research on the CLEI’s State of Latino Economic Well-Being in California Report focusing on a regional analysis on the state of Latino housing in Los Angeles. Findings of this report show that 62.1% of Latinos in the Los Angeles County lack adequate housing, while 52.8% feel overburdened by the cost of housing. 

“BizFed Institute is honored to help lead in mobilizing the key players in the housing industry to engage in a forum that fosters meaningful discussion that lead to measurable results” said Kevin Harbour, BFI President. 

“We need to address the growing wealth gap through homeownership and home building in California” said Frank Williams, Co-Founder and Investor Relations at Capital Direct Funding, and Vice-Chair of The Two Hundred. “Homeownership is no longer a pathway into the middle class for Latinos, and we need to fix that across all communities.”

The second part of the session will feature a panel of leaders engaging in a solution-driven conversation to address opportunities that will transform the economic future of the Latino community in Los Angeles.

“Los Angeles is the economic epicenter for Latinos in California and the United States” said Juan Novello, Chief Operating Officer at CLEI. “We must be at the helm of fixing this systematic issue to ensure the prosperity for generations to come – before it is too late.” 

Event Details

When: Friday October 25th, 2019

           9:30am – 12:00am

Where: USC Hotel

            3540 S Figueroa St., Room Champions A, Los Angeles, CA 90007

Who: BizFed Institute, California Latino Economic Institute, and The Two Hundred

Confirmed Speakers and Panelists

Dr. Robert Garcia – Mayor of Long Beach

Dr. Mindy Romero –California Civic Engagement Project (CCEP) at the University of Southern California’s Sol Price School of Public Policy, Founder and Director 

Alfred Fraijo – Sheppard Mullin, Partner

Jennifer Hernandez – Holland & Knight, Partner

Carlos Ortiz – Wells Fargo, Mortgage Banking Mgr.

John C. Gamboa – The Two Hundred, Vice Chair


About BizFed Institute (BFI)

The BizFed Institute educates, engages, equips and measures consensus solutions from civically minded, nonprofit, academic, and regional thought leaders for the purpose of building strong communities throughout California.

About the California Latino Economic Institute (CLEI)

The mission of the CLEI is to serve as a catalyst to grow the Latino Middle Class. In 2015, the California Latino Legislative Caucus partnered with the California Business Roundtable to create the CLEI as a stand-alone, independent organization focused on convening stakeholders and conducting research to address the opportunities to expand a Latino middle class.

About The Two Hundred

The Two Hundred, an initiative sponsored by California Community Builders, is a statewide coalition of community leaders, opinion makers and minority advocates, to mitigate the growing racial wealth gap through homeownership and home building in California. 

September 20, 2019

By John Gamboa and Robert Apodaca

Now that the Governor has signed into law a historic rent-control measure and a bill fast-tracking local government approval for residential developments, it’s time to face a more fundamental problem that has been exposed by California’s affordable housing crisis.

That problem is not about how to put a roof over everyone’s head. It’s about how minorities are systematic excluded from owning their own roof.

The American Dream of homeownership has been part of the civil rights struggle for decades and for good reason. The opportunity to own a family home, be it ever so humble, has been the steppingstone to economic mobility and the best way for working-class families to build intergenerational wealth. 

Homeownership is so central to the notion of fairness that, along with access to public accommodations and education, it is enshrined in the 1964 Civil Rights and 1968 Fair Housing Acts. It’s why we have outlawed redlining and restrictive covenants.

But now minorities are facing a barrier to homeownership just as insidious – escalating home prices.

While much is due to genuine appreciation, a lot of the escalation is artificial, fueled by misguided public policy and environmental regulations that add tens of thousands of dollars to the price of condos, townhouses and single-family homes.

These increases serve as a regressive tax, pricing lower-income African American, Latino and Asian buyers out of the market. 

They also contribute heavily to a wealth gap that continues to get worse despite the most robust economic recovery in the nation’s history.

The sad fact is that minorities bore the brunt of the 2008 recession, losing more than $370 billion in personal wealth, and they still haven’t fully recovered. 

As a result, per capita wealth for white Americans is now 10 times greater than for Latinos and 13 times greater than African Americans. Economists say the gap would shrink about 30 per cent if minorities owned homes at the same rate as whites.

Few places exemplify this problem as California, land of mind-boggling income disparity.

Faced with the urgent need for an additional 1.3 million housing units to keep up with the population, state officials and housing advocates have frantically labored to boost the inventory of rental property for low- and moderate-income families, mostly minorities.

Lost in the rush has been any serious consideration of how to stimulate affordable homeownership. As such, the Golden State is missing a golden opportunity to slow or stabilize the price of residential real estate by increasing supply in what remains the second most expensive real estate market in the country.

Meanwhile, California regulators are making it even tougher on minorities with environmental mandates that are increasing prices even more while turning workers of color into pawns in the war on climate change.

In the last two years, the California Air Resources Board has quietly adopted an expansive “scoping plan,” giving it more muscle under the California Environmental Quality Act, the landmark 1970 law intended to protect fragile ecosystems.

Under this expansive power, CARB has promulgated regulations requiring all new construction to be net-carbon neutral, a worthy aim indeed. 

But the effect is distinctively discriminatory: It will add an estimated $40,000 to every new housing unit, a molehill to the wealthy but a mountain for working-class families of color who struggle just to scrape together a down payment.

It is also counter-productive, if not perverse. By forcing families of color further out to find affordable housing, CARB is condemning wage-earners to commute even greater distances to jobs where they can’t phone it in – adding even more of the climate-killing emissions that CARB is desperate to eliminate.

Meanwhile, CARB and others are looking the other way as special interests – NIMBYs and trade unions among them – exploit CEQA loopholes to hold minority-friendly “infill” housing developments and government projects hostage for ulterior reasons.

A recent study by the Holland & Knight law firm shows how CEQA has become a tool of social exclusion. 

The law firm found that that 78% of CEQA lawsuits filed between 2013 and 2015 to block housing in the Los Angeles region were targeted for whiter and wealthier communities – like LA’s Westside, land of movie stars and upscale professionals.

What’s needed is a new approach, one that recognizes access to affordable homeownership as a civil right, not a privilege, and the best way possible to narrow a wealth gap that has reached immoral proportions. 

We need the Governor, Legislature, construction industry and affordable housing advocates to shift their attention away from the hamster wheel of rental existence to those promoting homeownership, especially by minorities. 

We need them to correct counterproductive policies and unfair regulations that are pricing working-class families out of the American Dream, fueling a wealth gap that has reached immoral proportions. And we need them to address the abuses under CEQA that render a law intended to save the Earth into a tool of social exclusion.

Anything short of this is just another form of Jim Crow.

Gamboa and Apodaca are on the leadership council of The Two Hundred, a coalition of California civil rights activists dedicated to breaking the cycle of poverty through homeownership.

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