The February 13, 2020 Sierra Learning Community focused on the topic of Housing Affordability and Accessibility in California. The issue is critical, as finding safe, affordable housing is becoming more difficult every day. As family strengthening professionals, we see the stress on children, families, communities and our own staff as housing prices soar.
The Learning Community featured Christopher Martin, Housing Advocate from Housing California and Cheyenne Purrington, Executive Director of the Tahoe Coalition for the Homeless and Principle of Threshold Consulting.
Chris shared key information about the genesis of the housing crisis in California. This includes a decline over the last 50 years in the development of housing. In 1956, California developed twice as many homes as in 2016! He also explained how policies skewed support toward homeowners and away from renters. Chris then explained the legislative landscape in the state, especially new resources to help communities grappling with homeless citizens.
Cheyenne provided concrete, innovative strategies they can try to help identify individuals and families that are at risk of homelessness, and then provide support to prevent the loss of housing. Cheyenne sparked thinking on the part of the participants, and time was spent in discussion with peers to identify strategies that can be employed now to help support the development of housing and prevent homelessness.
Participants agreed that developing new housing is difficult. But there were ideas for helping support families and communities. Hosting educational forums for community members in order to explore the issue was one idea. Educating families about their rights as renters was another.
Knowledge is power!