Advocating for Affordable Housing Is A Capital Idea

(above) The Habitat LA Team presented the California Legislator of the Year Award to Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer.

Habitat LA joined 24 other California Habitat affiliates in Sacramento last month for Advocacy Day, a statewide conference that included meeting with state legislators about the Golden State’s pressing need for more affordable housing.

It was the first Advocacy Day in the tenure of new Governor Gavin Newsom, who took office on January 7. The change in the governor’s mansion brought with it an opportunity to refocus Sacramento’s attention on the issue of affordable housing, which didn’t receive as much consideration during Jerry Brown’s eight years in office.

“People knew what Governor Brown would and wouldn’t support,” said Dinesa Thomas-Whitman, Habitat LA’s Director of Outreach, Advocacy, and Policy. “This year felt like there were more possibilities because of the new governor. In his inaugural address, he spoke a lot about affordable housing. We’re excited that those are his priorities too, and that we’re no longer a lone voice in the fight for affordable housing in California.”

The governor’s first proposed budget allots more than $1.7 billion to affordable housing, with a goal of building 3.5 million new homes by 2025. Habitat California, a coalition of affiliates across the Golden State, strongly supported the new governor for making housing a priority of his “California for All” plan.

Reggie Jones-Sawyer and Erin Rank smiling for a photo.

Assembly Member Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D-59) and Erin Rank, Habitat LA President and CEO.

In attendance in Sacramento from Habitat LA were Erin Rank, President and CEO; Dinesa Thomas-Whitman, Director of Outreach, Advocacy, and Policy; Chris Untiet, Director of Faith Relations and Patrick Sunpanich, Real Estate Project Manager. During their time there, they met with legislators or staffers from all 26 assembly and state senate districts in the greater Los Angeles area.

This group talked to legislators about the need to assist Los Angeles County homeowners whose residences were damaged or destroyed during the last two wildfire seasons. Habitat LA’s unique expertise in construction, home repair, and supplementary programs for first-time homeowners enables us to aid fire victims with everything from filling out insurance claims and state grant applications to choosing contractors and rebuilding homes from the ground up.

The night before Advocacy Day, Erin Rank presented the California Legislator of the Year Award to Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D-59). Jones-Sawyer was instrumental in sponsoring legislation that allows Californians to support Habitat for Humanity when filing their tax returns. The law has raised more than half a million dollars for our affiliates statewide.