Photo by Tom Valens. Courtesy of Amy Valens.

Housing justice is racial justice.
This is something I’ve been reminding myself lately. With all the issues we face, issues that often feel immobilizing (systemic racism and anti-blackness, houselessness, and mass disenfranchisement), I’ve been reminding myself to focus on solutions, on the ways that I can have an impact.
Housing justice is not the solution to the problems we face but it is a solution. And it’s a way we can make an impact in our own communities.
In the wake of the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, people across the U.S. are examining the ways racism is built into the fabric of our communities. Here in Marin, there’s a new awareness about our history and our present circumstances. Racial disparities are being recognized and called out. Issues that had been dwelling beneath the surface (like the fact that Marin as the #1 most racially disparate county in the state) are bubbling over.
Still, one of the biggest barriers to racial equity in Marin has yet to be addressed in a broad-scale, public way. And that’s persistent racial segregation.
The County of Marin’s 2018 and 2020 Analyses of Impediments to Fair Housing Choice (AI) show that everything– from access to grocery stores, public parks and open space to healthcare outcomes, life expectancy, and graduation rates– is linked to your zip code. And in Marin, where the highest concentrations of Black and Latino residents are located in just two communities– Marin City and the Canal– this makes for sharp disparities.
In Marin City, where 30% of residents are Black (compared to 4% in the rest of the County), there is only one grocery store: Target.
Mill Valley, whose residents are .0625% Black, has seven grocery stores.
Where you live matters.
If we truly want to dismantle structural racism in this country and in our own communities, housing needs to be central in the conversation. Here are some groups making sure this happens:
  • The SGV Community Center has invited the public to join their Equity Committee, which is looking at ways to increase racial and social equity here in the Valley. One of the issues they’ve decided to focus on is affordable housing. Their next meeting is Tuesday, August 4 at 2PM. Here’s your link to join the conversation on Zoom!
  • The Marin Organizing Committee (MOC) is holding two “Civic Academies on Renter Protections” to hear stories from our community and learn about how we can ensure families stay safe and in their homes through the pandemic. Scroll down to “Resources and Events” for more information.
  • Local community members have joined SGVAHA, CLAMBCLT, and the Stinson Beach Affordable Housing Committee to brainstorm how to make it easier for homeowners to create much-needed affordable 2nd units through our collaborative Real Community Rentals program.
Let’s make sure our present moment is not wasted. Let’s harness this momentum, let’s focus on solutions, and let’s fight for just housing for all.
In solidarity,
Mari Nakagawa
SGVAHA Outreach and Development Coordinator