Urban Habitat CEO: Equity is Key to the Bay Area’s Prosperity

The Golden State’s tremendous diversity will be the key to its future economic success—if its leaders take action to increase fairness and opportunity. Equity is not only a moral imperative—it is also an economic one.

These are the key messages of the new report California’s Tomorrow: Equity is the Superior Growth Modelauthored by PolicyLink and the Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE). The report was released at a legislative briefing earlier this month hosted by PolicyLink and the California Legislative Tri-Caucus, and was attended by legislative staff and nearly 40 advocates from all parts of the state.

Below is a reflection on the report from Urban Habitat President & CEO Allen Fernandez Smith:

Urban Habitat fully supports PolicyLink and PERE’s core finding in the California Report that to create a prosperous California, we must address current systemic inequities, avoid creating new ones, and serve residents of all races and incomes equally.

At Urban Habitat, we situate our work at the intersections of education, advocacy, research, and coalition building to advance environmental, economic, and social justice in the Bay Area region for low-income people and communities of color.  We believe that equitable growth is critical to securing a prosperous California and that the state’s demographic diversity is an economic asset.

Recent data show that low‐income people and communities of color are fragmented across regions. This fragmentation constrains these communities’ ability to establish the networks, political solidarity, and information infrastructure needed to influence the regional agencies that oversee important issues, such as transportation justice, economic development, affordable housing, and the environment.

In order for Californians to live up to their highest potential, we must change the way these regional agencies have historically made decisions. To do so, we need people to think locally and act regionally.

Urban Habitat is very proud to lead two strategic initiatives in the Bay Area to address these issues: Our Social Equity Caucus unites leaders across sectors to create a unified regional social justice community; and our Boards and Commissions Leadership Institute trains the next generation of leaders in the Bay Area region.

By lifting up new and under-represented voices to become strong advocates, and by uniting these leaders with social justice organizations working to advance equity, we can build the powerful movement needed to win a prosperous California.


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