Keys to Equity: Building ADUs for Oakland


 Oakland is experiencing a housing affordability and displacement crisis. Over the past decade, rents have increased 72 percent while incomes of Black Oaklanders have decreased by four percent. Black households face a high risk of displacement. 63 percent of Black renters and 45 percent of Black homeowners are considered cost-burdened, the highest of any group. Since 1990, the city’s Black population has decreased by 44 percent.

Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) — smaller homes on properties containing a larger, primary house — are an opportunity to provide affordable housing while building homeowner wealth. ADUs typically rent at below-market rates, are cheaper to build, can provide rental income for homeowners, increase property values, provide flexible living arrangements for owners and families, and can help stabilize communities experiencing gentrification. Black Oaklanders would benefit from ADUs but existing structural inequities, including disparities in wealth and access to capital, limit opportunities for ADU development among Black households. 


Keys to Equity is an initiative of the City of Oakland, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Richmond Neighborhood Housing Services and Self-Help Federal Credit Union to develop affordable homes and increase wealth for Black homeowners in Oakland by facilitating the development of ADUs. The program provides one-on-one project management services to homeowners, educational resources, complimentary ADU designs, permit streamlining, access to innovative financing products and a discounted construction process with a pre-selected general contractor. Although anyone can apply to the program, community-based program partners will conduct outreach efforts to target lower and middle-income Black homeowners.

The program’s goals are to (1) produce more housing that is affordable, (2) build wealth for Black homeowners, (3) stabilize communities at risk of gentrification and displacement and (4) create a scalable model by proving the efficacy and impact of ADU financing and development.     



Teachers Rooted in Oakland — increasing recruitment and retention of teachers of color by addressing the cost of housing/cost of living


In Oakland, 78% of the hard-to-staff specialized teachers, including STEM and SpEd, believe they may need to leave teaching because of the lack of affordable housing; this number is even higher for teachers of color. Our students — who are predominantly students of color — then suffer from major racial disparities in outcomes of academic performance. 


Our mission is to advance educational equity by addressing the cost of living and providing affordable housing to increase the recruitment & retention of highly skilled and committed Black, Latinx, and other teachers of color. We do this by providing affordable housing or housing stipends to incoming teacher residents (research shows teachers trained through residency models stay longer and are more effective) during their residency year and then supporting with guaranteed income stipends for the following 4 years, as long as they continue teaching in the school district.


Funding Fair Housing for All

The Philadelphia City Council passed legislation introduced by NewDEAL Leader Councilmember Derek Green to support affordable housing in the city budget, providing roughly $25 million in automatic funding for the Housing Trust Fund annually. The Trust Fund creates affordable and accessible housing projects for low-income and disabled Philadelphia residents. “We have witnessed the devastating role that a lack of accessible, affordable housing plays in the lives of many of our most vulnerable and at-risk citizens like our seniors and members of the disability community,” said Green. Learn more details about this major step forward for affordable housing, which will appear on November 2 ballots for voter approval.

Housing Program Brings Stability

Taking office just weeks before the pandemic hit, NewDEAL Leader Boise Mayor Lauren McLean had already made affordable housing a top priority. But with COVID exacerbating housing issues and putting more families at risk for homelessness, Mayor McLean worked with city and county partners to recently pass the Emergency Rental Assistance Program to administer grants to help residents cover rent and other living expenses.  The program is funded with monies from the U.S. Treasury Department as part of the second COVID relief package. Speaking about possible additional relief from Congress, Mayor McLean told the Well News, “Obviously, the more funds that are made available, the more you can do, and what we’ve been advocating for in the next stimulus is funding that will enable us to secure funds for those experiencing homelessness. If the feds are willing, we’re ready to acquire, rehab or construct new affordable housing in a community that really needs it.”  Read more about the Emergency Rental Assistance Program and other ideas to address affordable housing in a recent interview Mayor McLean did with Well News.

Texan NewDEALers Lead Recovery Efforts

After the winter storms and amid the resulting energy disaster in Texas, Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson and San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg have moved quickly to spur community recovery efforts. Johnson, who directed the Mayor’s Disaster Relief Fund to help with response and recovery efforts in Dallas, just announced the distribution of $500,000 to 25 local organizations. In San Antonio, Nirenberg quickly established the San Antonio Community Pipe Repair Fund, which will pay for emergency repairs in homes. In addition, Nirenberg named a new panel to probe his city’s storm preparedness and increase resilience before the next one. Nirenberg also partnered with local restaurants to distribute 1,000 meals to struggling families.

Renter’s Choice Measures Continue to Build Momentum

The Atlanta City Council has passed Councilmember Amir Farokhi’s Renter’s Choice legislation, allowing renters to buy “rental security insurance” in lieu of an expensive security deposit. This policy idea for giving renters more affordable options was presented at last year’s NewDEAL Leaders Conference, shortly before it was introduced and passed by NewDEAL members in Cincinnati. Now, it is building momentum led by the work of NewDEALers across the country. Farokhi hopes that the legislation will “make it cheaper for people to get into an apartment,” lowering barriers to accessing housing for those in need. Check out this link for an explainer of how the policy has spread, and read more about Councilmember Farokhi’s work in Atlanta.

NewDEALers Innovate to Tackle Homelessness

With affordable housing among the biggest challenges facing cities across the country, NewDEAL Mayors are implementing innovative solutions addressing homelessness in their communities. In Oakland, Mayor Libby Schaaf applauds the success of the Keep Oakland Housed initiative. Learn more about the program, which prevents residents from losing their housing by providing legal representation, emergency financial assistance, and supportive services. In less than 1.5 years, the City has kept 2,117 households, and about 4,000 individuals from losing their housing. Meanwhile, in Montgomery, AL, Mayor Steve Reed, who was just elected in the fall, launched his Feed the Meter for the Homeless effort this week in partnership with the Mid-Alabama Coalition for the Homeless. Read more about the special green parking meters installed downtown that will offer residents a way to donate directly to support central Alabama agencies working to address homelessness.

The Future We Choose: A Safe Home For Everyone


Each year, the Salt Lake County community invests $42 million in government and private funds on the complex issue of homelessness, helping Utah’s Housing First initiative to dramatically reduce chronic homelessness. Currently, resources are invested without coordination either among funders and service agencies or between them. Efforts of funders and service agencies are disconnected, and no one has a common understanding of the problem, shared solutions, or common ways to measure progress resulting in isolated pockets of efficiency and impact.


Salt Lake County is coordinating a system-wide effort to identify gaps in current homeless services and improve services delivery to individuals and families experiencing or at risk for homelessness. The County is also organizing broader community efforts around these outcomes by developing an innovative, integrated set of supportive finance strategies, including an innovative portfolio approach to related Pay for Success projects, a public-private funding collaborative, and an initiative to coordinate Community Development Block Grant funds region-wide. The Mayor is also determined to make the resulting data widely accessible online through a public dashboard, now in development, which will demonstrate accountability to residents. 

Tackling Foreclosure Crisis


The mortgage foreclosure crisis ravaged communities through New York City, and its impact is still being felt today. Thousands of families lost their homes and entire neighborhoods suffered from vacancies, blight and declining values. In addition to its effects on families and neighborhoods, pre-foreclosed real estate hinders economic development, costing the city roughly $84 million in unpaid property tax annually.


To deal with a continuing foreclosure crisis, City Councilman Dan Garodnick is advocating for New York City to buy back distressed mortgages controlled by federal housing authorities, restructure the debt in partnership with not-for-profits, and then resell the notes (and homes) to current homeowners and low- to moderate-income New Yorkers who can support the debt. Banks have been resistant to writing down principal balances because of regulatory constraints, and too many properties have been abandoned, or left in legal limbo. This solution will refurbish vacant or abandoned properties, rejuvenate communities, and give people much-needed housing.

Dilapidated Housing Ordinance


The steady decline of the coal industry led to a growing number of dilapidated and dangerous abandoned homes in Pike County, Kentucky. As the population decreased, many homes were left unoccupied and became dangerous eye sores in their communities. These abandoned and dilapidated homes lowered property values for other home owners in their communities.


As a county official, Rep. Harris sponsored and passed a “Dilapidated Housing Ordinance” which provided a method for the County Solid Waste Department to remove dilapidated structures from property. Upon receipt of a complaint from a neighboring land owner, the County Solid Waste Department provides notice to the owner of a dilapidated structure and affords them a reasonable period of time to either repair or remove the structure from the premises. If the structure isn’t removed within the time period allowed under the ordinance, the County Solid Waste Department may then take steps to remove the structure and place a lien covering the cost of removal upon the real estate. The Dilapidated Housing Ordinance removed countless dangerous eyesores from communities all across Pike County and improved safety and property values for those living near these abandoned structures.