TONIGHT: Support 100% Affordable Housing at Ashby BART

Margy Wilkinson, Friends of Adeline
Tuesday February 04, 2020 - 11:11:00 AM
Twitter statement from South Berkeley Now steering committee member--later deleted
Twitter statement from South Berkeley Now steering committee member--later deleted

Development of the Adeline neighborhood must reverse the displacement of African Americans and the severe housing crisis for low-income, working-class, and unhoused people.

Come to the special city council meeting TONIGHT to speak up for the affordable housing that our community needs! This is a special meeting, starting at 6pm at the School District Board Room, 1231 Addison St. Please also write a letter to council@cityofberkeley.info.

We demand the following in the city’s Adeline Plan:

  1. Guarantee a future for the Ashby flea market and its vendors at the Ashby BART site.
  2. Provide a site and funding for the African American Holistic Resource Center.
  3. 100% affordable housing at Ashby BART. Any housing on BART land must be 100% affordable for extremely low-, very low-, and low-income people.
  4. No fee-out. Developers should not be allowed to pay a fee to get out of building the low-income housing we need. Low-income housing should be built on-site, in every project built in the neighborhood, and should include family-sized, 2-3 bedroom units.
  5. Commit real money to affordable housing. Dedicate one-third of our Housing Trust Fund to South Berkeley, with at least a minimum of $50 million over 10 years.
Read our full vision here: http://www.friendsofadeline.org/south-berkeley-needs-a-peoples-plan-for-adeline-street/

We are dismayed to see that there are people fighting against 100% affordable housing on public land at Ashby BART. Please come out tonight and show that South Berkeley supports 100% affordable housing that people in our community can actually afford! Below is our open letter in response.

Dear South Berkeley Now, Over the weekend, a steering committee member of your organization made the accompanying reproduced statement on Twitter. This person later deleted the tweet and wrote an apology on Twitter.

This tweet feeds a false and dangerous narrative that poor people “cause” multi-generational poverty, an idea that has been used to assert biological and cultural superiority of some groups over others and is rooted in white supremacy. This narrative has been weaponized to defund services that support low-income people and people of color.

The problem with concentrated poverty is NOT the concentration of poor people, but how people in power use segregation to deny resources to, and exploit, low-income people and people of color.

The way to solve this problem is not by fighting against 100% affordable housing, but by fighting for 1) more power and voice for low-income communities and communities of color to get 2) resources that meet their needs, including 3) new, low-income housing, especially in communities such as Berkeley.

Though the person apologized for this tweet, South Berkeley Now continues to invoke this same dangerous narrative. On Sunday night, your organization sent a new mass email warning that “100% low income subsidized housing at Ashby BART would mean… Concentration of low income residents in one location.”

To be clear:

  1. There’s nothing wrong with low-income people living together.
  2. “Affordable housing” in our city covers a wide range of incomes, up to $98,550 for a family of four.
  3. In our neighborhood, the median income is $46,500. There is active displacement, especially of the Black community. 100% affordable housing is an essential neighborhood stabilization strategy, and this is what we should be using our public lands for.
Warning against the “concentration of low-income residents” is a dog whistle. In a historically Black neighborhood undergoing extreme gentrification, many people will read “low income” as code for Black. We want to believe that this is not who you want to be. We call on you to publicly apologize and join our demands for 100% affordable housing and a guaranteed future for the flea market and its vendors at the Ashby BART site.

Read our full vision here: http://www.friendsofadeline.org/south-berkeley-needs-a-peoples-plan-for-adeline-street/

It matters who new housing is for. We live in one of the richest places that have ever existed in the history of the world. Committing resources to stabilize our neighborhood, strengthen our Black community, and invest in the housing that our community needs is worth fighting for.

-Friends of Adeline