August 17, 2017

25 Local heroes

HerosIn honor of our 25th anniversary

25 for 25!! 25 honorees for 25 years of community service. We didn’t get this far without the help of many wonderful people and we won’t make it through our second 25 without their help and the help of other wonderful people. So in honor of our 25 years we are taking this opportunity to celebrate the following 25 individuals/organizations who are, in our book, heros.

Local Heroes:

Maria Alegria & FaithWorks!: In addition to being a pro-active supporter of healthy communities and access to housing as a City of Pinole City Council member, Maria is the Executive Director of Faith Works! This organization brings together community advocates with Faith organizations and labor. Together they have taken on some of the most challenging communities in Contra Costa County, working to improve the quality of life for everyone.

BANANAS: The Housing Rights for Children Project (which became Housing Rights, Inc. in 1987) was created at and by BANANAS in 1979. They were our first ‘home’ and generously launched us as an independent agency in 1987.

Gerald Baptiste: Gerald is an amazing advocate for people with disabilities. His gentleness and grace are contagious. Together we solve difficult problems for our clients because of that. He has been as the Center for Independent Living over 20 years.

Brancart & Brancart: This is a groundbreaking law firm that has taken on very difficult and extremely important housing discrimination cases. They are also very generous with their time and expertise advising agencies like ours on how to improve our work fighting housing discrimination.

Luz Bruitrago: Luz is an inspirational advocate for some of our most marginalized neighbors: immigrants, survivors of domestic violence, limited English speaking/low income individuals. She has been at it for a couple of decades now and continues to inspire us with her dedication.

Sheila Burks: Sheila is one of our best cheerleaders. She encourages us with unflagging enthusiasm to keep up the good work on behalf of low and lowest income households. She works tirelessly to support the development of affordable housing and homeownership opportunities.

Episcopal Homes Foundation:This organization has made and carries out a commitment to house seniors of all income levels assuring the same level of service and quality in housing. They are also committed to addressing all of the needs of those they house paying special attention to providing access to quality healthy foods.

Supervisor John Gioia: Supervisor Gioia doesn’t just talk about housing, he makes sure that his community is addressing the housing needs of everyone. He is an active member of several local groups/committees who goal is to help low income people by homes or build homes or fight to better homes.

Jim Grow: Jim has dedicated years to providing support to his peers and colleagues as they fight for the rights of their clients. He is also revered by the subsidized housing tenant advocate community. He continues to provide support and analysis and the tenant community struggles to be heard by policy makers regarding the future of their housing.

Assemblywoman Loni Hancock: In addition to being a wonderful elected official who involves herself in her constituent’s issues, Assemblywoman Hancock granted BANANAS/Housing Rights for Children Project our first funding in 1979! This was an ACTION grant and The Assemblywoman was working for the federal government at the time.

John Stewart Co.: This property management company prides itself on diversity and fair treatment of the residents of the properties they manage. Housing Rights, Inc. can attest to their commitment to work through problems rather than dismissing the concerns of their residents. We appreciate the relationship that we enjoy with them.

Janet Kennedy: Janet has worked on behalf of several local cities (Berkeley, Concord, San Pablo, Antioch) as their conscience, encouraging the development and support for affordable housing. There could not be a stronger and more effective advocate.

Nancy Kenyon: Nancy has been working in fair housing and fight housing discrimination for over 40 years. There is no one as dedicated and energetic about this work. She is the Executive Director of Marin Fair Housing and is a national leader in the ever changing struggle to end housing discrimination.

Lao Family Community Development Corporation: Living in a country of immigrants… most organizations fail to appreciate what this means to our schools, neighborhoods and Cities. Lao Family successfully addresses the variety of needs of refugees and immigrants that come to its doors. They have staff who speak many languages and are as diverse themselves as the community they serve.

Virginia Lizzaraga: Vicky is a one person dynamo! She has made it her mission to improve the lives of the mostly Spanish speaking individuals in the Monument Corridor community in Concord. She carries supplies in the trunk of her car to address immediate needs as she works with families to get their needs met and improve the quality of their lives.

Bonnie Milstein: Bonnie has dedicated her life to fighting for the housing rights of persons with disabilities nationally and now here in California. She is steadfast in her understanding of what needs to be done by housing providers to assure equal access to housing for persons with disabilities. And fortunately for us, she shares her understanding and supports our efforts to increase access as well.

Jim Morales: Jim is out of the fair housing game now. However, his influence remains. Jim was a major contributor to both the federal and state laws which added families with children as a protected class making it illegal to discriminate against them in housing. Architect of FHAA!

Sharon Mosley (Our Founder!): What can we say, if Sharon hasn’t decided to fight back against landlords that would not rent to her because of her twin daughter, we wouldn’t be here today!

Tom Mosmiller: Tom has been able to juggle his responsibility as a county employee with his commitment to advocate for the housing needs of persons with AIDS, remembering at all times, to consult them and include their perspective in his work.

Sue Siegel: Sue and her organization are fighting for our future. They are building (with Affordable Housing Associates) one of the first Universal Design building in the County. They are fighting for housing that is accessible to ‘EVERYONE’.

Judy Sparks: Judy is a tireless advocate for the tenants she works with at Resources for Community Development and for their right to participate in decisions that impact them and their housing directly. Judy now oversees the staff who support the tenants in housing that RCD owns.

St. Mary’s Center Senior Advocates for Hope and Justice: This group of low and lowest income seniors is an inspiration to anyone who believes that knowledge is power. These advocates are educated, articulate and vocal about our ‘right to housing, health care and adequate food’

Eddie Ytuarte & Oakland Tenant’s Union: Eddie is an advocate, no doubt about it. He maintain a vigilance over housing issues and steers a straight course for the rest of us who do not always know what to do and when to do it when affordable housing is at risk. OTu has remained a forum for renters who need to understand their housing rights and how to fight for them.

Alvita White: Alvita is a natural leader. She is leading subsidized housing tenants to homeownership and improved lives. Through a non-profit founded and run my current and former Section 8 tenants they have successfully supported the Section 8 home purchase of one unit in Berkeley.

Kriss Worthington: Kriss can often be found on the street talking to and sometimes protesting with subsidized housing tenants for improved conditions or more housing. He attends meetings, makes phone calls and cheers us on as we work to bring subsidized housing tenants into the decision-making process for the programs that control their housing.