RPA Activist Info Masthead
Issue: #132
March 11, 2014 
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Wednesday: Meeting of Housing Authority
Mayor: What Must Be Done
Beckles: Connecting the Dots
Minimum Wage to Council 3/18
Principal Reduction Resources
RPA Membership Drive
Some History of RPA

Bobby Bowens Progressive Center
1021 Macdonald,


Since we don't take corporate money,  our success depends on our ability to use "people power" to promote activities and programs in Richmond. The RPA Activist is one tool we use to put out our ideas. One simple thing that YOU can do is to forward the RPA Activist to friends and acquaintances. Thanks.


Wednesday,  March 5   6:30pm
Special Housing Authority Public Hearing
 City Council Chambers   

Every resident of the city, whether they rent or own, live in public housing or are homeless, deserve as a human right the opportunity for clean healthy living conditions.  No one deserves rats, vermin, polluted air, or violent neighborhoods.  To secure these for all our residents is one of the first tasks of a city government.  For at least some of the residents the city has failed and it must fix things. Period.

As Mayor McLaughlin and Councilmember Beckles both explain, the real test is whether we can identify the root causes of the problems and how we can get these addressed.

Anger has its place, but the solutions will come only if we correctly identify the problems.

Please try to attend this important meeting. This meeting of the Housing Authority will NOT be broadcast live on KCRT because a of a regularly scheduled school district telecast. This meeting will be available through the KCRT Live Streaming system and a tape delay broadcast will be aired on Channel 28 starting Thursday at 1:00am, noon, and 6:30pm.
--Mike Parker 

 Update on Richmond Housing Authority Issues  

(from Mayor McLaughlin)


The City of Richmond has the responsibility to provide clean, quality housing in all our Public Housing Agency facilities. In some of our public housing areas we have clearly failed. 

What to do

Solve the most immediate problems now.

The Housing Authority is now doing this, reaching out to each unit to resolve current and past problems. Staff is compiling the data on these unit by unit inspections and repair and remediation efforts to present to the Board of Commissioners at our special meeting tomorrow, Wednesday, at 6:30 pm in the City Council Chambers.


Determine the future of Hacienda.

Meeting at Hacienda to hear residents.
photo: Eduardo Martinez
The main question at this point in time is whether to renovate or demolish this aging building.  This decision must be based on the clear-cut needs of our tenant residents for quality housing and also based on how quickly we can force HUD to pay for the right solution. I have demanded that HUD complete the paperwork process and provide a timeline in writing so that we can convey to residents what they can expect.


A large number of our public housing residents, especially in Hacienda, are individuals with disabilities, many in wheelchairs. This is an issue of disability rights along with an issue of quality housing rights in general, which is why we call on HUD to prioritize the needs of Hacienda.


Determine the root cause of the problems.

I have initiated and the Housing Authority Board has passed a directive to staff to begin the process of identifying an independent management auditor.   After this audit is completed, we can consider the question of what changes need to occur in our Housing Authority management and management procedures.


We do our public housing residents a disservice if we get sidetracked into a bloodletting session rather than going after the real problems. We expect our staff to treat our residents with full respect and dignity.  Likewise we treat our staff.  We do not decide to call for terminating staff based on rumors or even public outcry.  We take all complaints about staff extremely seriously and look fully into all complaints, but that is the starting point for an investigation where the staff member also has an opportunity to explain.


I am taking responsibility for assuring things continue to move forward without delay on all levels of review and action in regard to these Housing Authority issues. Like so many other public housing facilities nationwide, Richmond facilities have been neglected by HUD for too long, amid Congressional budget cuts to HUD that have left cities with great challenges. Things are coming to a head nationwide. It is up to us to make it 100 percent clear to HUD and our elected Congressional representatives that our public housing residents are tired of waiting.


Please join me at the special meeting we are having tomorrow, Wednesday 3/12, at 6:30 pm., at which we will analyze the data from recent unit-to-unit inspections and determine next steps we need to take on behalf of our residents' health and well-being.  

Connecting the Dots

The Richmond Housing Authority Crisis and the Big Picture  

By Richmond Vice Mayor Jovanka Beckles


KQED photo There has been a great deal of attention directed toward Richmond's Housing Authority after recent negative media coverage alleging gross mismanagement. Although there have been challenges to the truthfulness and questions about the accuracy in the reporting, what we know for certain is that real harm was done, and we must take the health and wellbeing of our residents as seriously as we do our own.


The residents of our public housing deserve that much respect and action on our part at a minimum. To ensure sustainable solutions, it is critical to find the systemic underlying causes and to make both the short and long term changes necessary. Although it is premature to say what the ultimate outcome will be, I support the full independent investigation that Richmond Mayor and Housing Authority Board Chair, Gayle McLaughlin has called for.


I appreciate the independent press and I support the right of the people to know what is going on. I also recognize that reporting outrageous acts of mismanagement, deplorable living conditions and finger pointing make for good press, but there is a bigger picture and another story that is not being told. That story is one of income inequality, historic and systemic oppression, poverty, racism, classism and the politics of economics that contribute to the resulting problems. Because the full truth is complex and neither sensational nor simple, that story does not fit neatly into a sound bite that tugs at heart strings or elicits indignant gasps.


Local governments all over the country are being asked to do more with less, and are then held accountable for all the things can and do go wrong. Of course, we and they must take some responsibility, but under the circumstances, some of the responsibility must also be fairly shared and things must ultimately shift. As income inequality has dramatically increased, we have witnessed the systematic shredding of the social safety net. There are constant cut backs in funds, often resulting in the cut backs in staff and lowered morale for the staff in place. This results in far reaching systemic problems. These are the real and concrete consequences of the austerity measures national and state governments have been promoting and enacting. When an agency is working with limited resources, where there is not enough to cover basic needs, it is fertile ground for discontent, low morale, corruption and incompetence. Not many competent people want to stay at a job they are expected to do but can't do well for lack of resources. This does not in any way excuse the alleged rude or disrespectful treatment of residents; on the contrary. Neither does it justify unresponsive department action. But unless we start dealing with the underlying issue of poverty, finding people jobs, and rebuilding the safety net, there is no real or lasting solution. All other efforts are simply band aids and cosmetics.


One of the many reasons that I am promoting a fair living wage is to make a local attempt to begin to decrease the ever widening disparity faced by workers - in this case those who may happen to be public housing residents, as well those who provide any number of services to the residents, and of course all other workers. Everyone deserves a chance at a decent life and a decent place to live. I also believe that given a choice, workers prefer to work with integrity. The current economy does not support living wages that provide a sufficient income to many individuals to make a living and afford market rate housing. As long as income disparity remains egregiously high, people will struggle with housing and there will be public housing. As long as there is public housing, we the stewards of the public funds, must be vigilant in ensuring that it is responsibly and respectfully managed.   


The City Council alone cannot remedy the larger issue of national economic disparity and income inequality. Fortunately, organized communities can and are fighting for justice and equity in these areas. I stand with my colleagues and the community in the belief that government works for and with the people. I welcome ongoing dialogue on this issue and look forward to discovering what more will be revealed. I will continue to initiate and support public policies for appropriate and necessary action for the good of the residents of Richmond.


This article first appeared in the Feb. 22 San Francisco BayView National Black Newspaper 

Tuesday, March 18,  7:30
Minimum Wage Before Council

Richmond Needs a Raise!  Raise the Minimum Wage!


Join the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, the Richmond Progressive Alliance, SEIU 1021, Asian Pacific Environmental Network, the Restaurant Opportunities Center, CCISCO, Somos Richmond, BMOER and the rest of our community ;who are uniting to lift up our City by raising the minimum wage.


The proposal is to raise the minimum wage to $11, $12.30, or $15 an hour and includes a cost of living adjustment annually!  Businesses with 10 or fewer employees would be exempted.


It's time we make Richmond the kind of town where families can afford to put food on the table, keep a roof over our heads, and not have to choose between a paycheck and health!  When workers have more money in their pockets, they spend it in our community, building local businesses, creating jobs, and generating tax revenue for schools and public safety. EVERYONE BENEFITS!


But, your council members need to hear your voice!  On March 18, come add your voice to the growing movement of people taking action to build a better Richmond.


Program to Stop Foreclosures and Fight Blight
Get Answers to your Questions

New Videos Explain Principle Reduction Programs

The Real Nightmare on Elm St.: Fighting Foreclosures with Local Principal Reduction 
The Real Nightmare on Elm St.: Fighting Foreclosures with Local Principal Reduction

New from Jeff Ritterman

"Heart Attacks, Depression and Suicide: The Toxic Fallout From the Foreclosure Epidemic and a Prevention Strategy That Just Might Work"

Click here for the Huffington Post article

For in-depth information on the legal and economic theory behind this strategy, readHere are some other good sources you can get on-line

 RPA Membership Drive Continues 

Become an RPA member
Under the leadership of Mayor McLaughlin and her progressive colleagues on the City Council, 
Richmond has drawn local, national and international attention with its innovative solutions to persistent problems.  Let's keep the momentum going!  As we gear up for the coming election year in 2014, RPA needs your support more than ever. Join now and be part of history in the making.
Dues are just $12 per year (or more if you are able), and go towards paying our share of rent at the Bobby Bowens Progressive Center, 1021 Macdonald Ave--a space that is used by RPA and other organizations for educational forums, town hall meetings, strategy sessions, campaign organizing, celebrations and many other events open to the community.
By joining now you'll get our e-newsletter and action alerts, and opportunities to participate in building a better Richmond.  We'll also give you a large, attractive tote bag--ideal for grocery shopping, now that Richmond has enacted a plastic bag ban as another step toward protecting our precious environment. 
Don't put it off--  write, call or e-mail us now!

Join the RPA

RPA Symbol

We can only keep this city moving forward, protect our health and safety, and resist corporate domination of our politics if enough of us join together. We are asking you to take sides--to join the RPA.     




UNITY - One Richmond: African-American, Asian, Latino/a, Native Americans, white, united for the good of all.

DEMOCRACY- Government of, for, by the people; all the people, not just those rich enough to buy influence.

DIVERSITY - of ideas: Democrats, Greens, independents, or other. We sometimes disagree but respect each other enough to keep working for a better Richmond together.


  • participate in periodic RPA discussions and events of community interest;
  • staff the office, make phone calls, meet in committees, arrange events and parties;
  • work on campaigns of RPA-endorsed candidates for city council;
  • engage with neighbors;
  • help shape RPA and its priorities;
  • join in support of other allied organizations working to make a difference in Richmond;
  • read the newsletter at www.richmondprogressivealliance.net for what REALLY goes on in Richmond;
  • eat; have fun.

Download the membership form and mail it in with dues.


Send us an email at info@richmondprogressivealliance.net with the information requested on the form.  And go to the RPA web page. Press the "Donate" button in the left column and make a dues contribution. An additional contribution is greatly appreciated and helps us keep dues low for those with low income.


Some History and Understanding of the RPA
  Social Policy Article

Long article with pictures 

--have patience in downloading


RPA Activist Info

is for Richmond community members who want to be active in taking on the problems of the environment, racism, joblessness, housing, and crime to create a healthy Richmond. We believe that community involvement means more than voting every two years. It means regular communication with the candidates we elect, letting them know our issues and positions, supporting them as they try to take our issues forward. It means we attend meetings, use email, phone our neighbors, or go on marches building an organized movement to create real change.

Comments and columns are welcome. Articles and columns are the views of the author, unsigned text  the views of the editor, Mike Parker, and not necessarily those of the RPA. Send photos, articles, and comments to  RPAactivist@gmail.com or call  510-595-4661. Longer articles of analysis and archives of past newsletters can be found on our website.