Haas institute report outlines Bay Area’s past of racially exclusionary housing

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The Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society released the “Roots, Race, and Place” report Tuesday, which focuses on the intersection of race and housing in the Bay Area before 1968 to understand the impact it has on the area’s current housing policies.

Authored by Eli Moore, Nicole Montojo and Nicole Mauri, the report documents the timeline of racially exclusionary policies and practices in the Bay Area from the 1850s to the 1970s. The report found that racial residential segregation in the Bay Area resulted from tactics including extrajudicial and state violence and exclusionary zoning before the enactment of federal fair housing legislation.

“Clearly, there’s a severe set of issues setting into the region when it comes to housing,” Moore said. “Lack of affordability, gentrification are very much present, and the racial inequities in the low-income communities who have been hit the hardest by these issues are also very concerning.” 

Mauri began research for the report in early 2018 by looking at legal cases and public hearings on civil rights implementation and complaints within the Bay Area. According to Moore, the authors “built upon” Mauri’s findings by reviewing research done by historians of this region that then led them to the archival research they referenced.

Moore added that by mapping segregation and exclusionary policies in the region — which he noted are at similar levels today compared to those in the 1970s — community members can understand their creation and the lasting effects they had in access to ownership. According to Montojo, placing the history of policy solutions at the forefront of current negotiations is an important step to repairing past wrongs.

“I really applaud the authors for putting together one of the most lucid reports I’ve seen yet that advocates the often dark and exclusionary history of how zoning ordinances came about,” Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board commissioner and Zoning Adjustments Board chair Igor Tregub said. “It’s important to know about this exclusionary history so we don’t repeat history and instead are able to reclaim our zoning codes and housing policies.”

Tregub added that the report underscores the importance of equity when creating policies that affect the livelihoods of Berkeley residents. Chair of the Berkeley Planning Commission Christine Schildt said the report is an “important contribution” for local and state governments to “remedy” racially exclusionary practices.

While the report works to compile documents that highlight the history of housing inequity in the Bay Area, it does not mention the work done to counteract this issue, according to Moore and Mauri. Moore pointed to places like the East Bay Permanent Real Estate Cooperative, or EBPREC, which buys and preserves real estate to keep tenants of color housed and help them remain within their community.

“I am a Black American and a third-generation Oakland resident, which means that when someone from my community is forced out, I am losing people of my community,” executive director of EBPREC Noni Session said. “We are helping Oaklanders that are from the East Bay by creating access to funding, technological support and long term asset management, so they can cooperatively afford housing that supports their community vision.”

Clara Rodas is the lead race and diversity reporter. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @ClaraRodas10.