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A coalition of Bay Area elected officials, racial justice activists and housing advocates are calling on Gov. Gavin Newsom to prioritize housing for Black residents in the Bay Area by investing in a targeted fund.

Representatives for the Bay Area Black Housing Advisory Task Force urged the governor Monday during a virtual news conference to set aside $500 million for a new fund that would help alleviate some of the historic burdens that have led to a disproportionate impact on Black homeowners in the Bay Area.

San Francisco, Oakland, and Berkeley have each lost between 40 and 50 percent of their Black residents over the last 30 years, according to the task force. East Palo Alto lost 60 percent of its Black residents in that time.

“The proposed budget that’s built on the $98 billion surplus right now fails to address the housing needs of Black communities throughout the Bay Area, but there is still time,” said Melissa Jones, Executive Director of the Bay Area Regional Health Inequities Initiative, which established the housing task force.

Jones pointed to the generational targeting of Black homeownership through policies like redlining, eminent domain, predatory lending, and state sanctioned discrimination in the housing market.

According to Jones, the fund would be used to provide down payment assistance to low-and moderate-income applicants, preserve Black housing in current neighborhoods, provide free development resources for housing development by Black-led developers, and preserve cultural districts and institutions.

“We see firsthand the systemic challenges facing Black families, and we are committed to improving the health and well-being of our Black communities.”

Assemblymember Lori Wilson

The proposal is backed by State Sen. Scott Weiner and Assemblymember Lori Wilson.

Wilson said she was proud to support the budget request.

“We see firsthand the systemic challenges facing Black families, and we are committed to improving the health and well-being of our Black communities,” said Wilson.

Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia said housing has been identified as a health and equity issue. He emphasized that dedicated state funding would help local governments leverage the fund into greater spending power.

Dmitra Smtih, Vice President, NAACP Sonoma, said current housing programs had been proven to be inadequate.

A state Reparations Task Force issued an interim report on June 1 that identified several areas of systemic inequity caused by racist state policies to address, including housing.

“In California, federal, state, and local governments created segregation through discriminatory federal housing policies, zoning ordinances, decisions on where to build schools, and discriminatory federal mortgage policies known as redlining,” the report said. A final report is due by July 1, 2023.

“If we really are serious about reparations, at a time when we have money, we need to make sure that we make $500 million, which is just a drop in the bucket, to start to address this issue,” said Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson.

Oakland City Councilmember Treva Reid said she believes homelessness is the number one issue to be addressed in the Bay Area.

The task force is made up of more than 40 organizations with expertise in housing and community building and was established as part of the Bay Area Regional Health Inequities Initiative, which is a partnership of 11 Bay Area public health departments.

A final budget agreement is due by July 1.