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Urban Habitat Program

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Community & Neighborhood Development, Economic Development

Mission: To advance social equity in the bay area. More specifically, the organization works in partnership with low-income communities and communities of color to advance social, economic and environmental justice in the bay area region and beyond. Through advocacy and the promotion of equitable policies, leadership development, research and participation in strategic coalitions, the organization helps to build a democratic society in which all communities have the power to influence and benefit from the decisions impacting their neighborhoods.

Programs: Boards & commission leadership institute (bcli) recruits, trains, supports, and places community leaders from low-income communities and communities of color into public commissions and nonprofit and private boards in the san francisco bay area region. On january 18, 2012, urban habitat proudly hosted a graduation ceremony and reception for the graduates of the 2011 cohort. Over 70 people were in attendance, including alumni from previous cohorts, representatives of nominating organizations, and potential bcli recruits. The program included keynote speeches from the city of oakland's assistant city administrator, fred blackwell and california state controller, john chiang. Fourteen graduates were awarded certificates of achievement and stipends. At the end of 2012, the bcli had a total of 39 graduates and 16 fellows that held 46 seats at the local, regional and state level, far exceeding our goal of 30 placements.

transportation justice - on transportation justice, urban habitat played an integral role in 2012 in establishing the 6 wins for social equity network, a regional campaign that has been working with over 30 organizations to advocate for equitable planning and development decisions in the scs process. The network has identified six important *wins* for low-income communities of color, including: 1) community power, 2) affordable housing, 3) investments without displacement, 4) affordable and accessible transit, 5) healthy and safe communities and 6) good jobs. To create the detailed policy recommendations and strategies for achieving these wins, the organizations formed working groups based on each priority. These working groups developed roadmaps to achieve each win. Urban habitat leads the transportation justice working group, which focuses on securing a fair share of resources for expanding public transit service for low-income residents and building affordable housing-so that people can afford to live closer to jobs, education, and other opportunities.

equitable development - social equity caucus:2012 equity forumin january 2012, building on the ideas and relationships formed at the policylink summit, the sec hosted its inaugural equity forum. The equity forum convened more than 80 regional equity allies representing 50 organizations from multiple sectors, issues, and communities in the bay area. Several interrelated themes emerged, helping to inform focus areas at state of the region. 2012 state of the regionin april the sec held it's fourth state of the region conference at the california endowment's oakland conference center. More than 120 leaders from the bay area social justice community attended, representing 80 organizations and 5 counties. Issues addressed included the changing geography of race and class in the bay, the dissolution of redevelopment agencies, and regional agency reform. The conference also included capacity-building workshops focused on highlighting effective strategies for winning regional campaigns, funding regional advocacy work, and building stronger inside-outside relationships with progressive decision-makers. Mitchell j. Silver, the first person of color to serve as president of the american planning association, and bertha lewis, president and founder of the black institute, served as keynote speakers. The feedback received from state of the region participants was overwhelmingly positive, and many who have participated past uh events referred to this year's conference as the best one yet.

land use & housing luh - through urban habitat's land-use and housing program, uh engages in local planning efforts with key allies in the community to provide technical assistance and a regional equity perspective on local planning. In addition, we strategically connect community-based organizations to regional movements in order to define and win policy solutions that will benefit low-income communities and communities of color. In 2012 uh worked closely with local community based organizations to ensure that we build local capacity to advocate for smarter land-use decisions and plans in san leandro, east palo alto, menlo park, richmond and pleasanton. Race, poverty & the environment publications rp&e published two journals in 2012. New majority rising; public property popular power and planning-jobs-women and economic justice-transit.

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Urban Habitat is one of the few organizations working across sectors and across issues to empower low-income people of color. The organization has been at the forefront of the social justice movement making the case for equity and reframing the debate to ensure that race and class are a central part of the conversation.