‘A fresh start’: Deborah Matthews runs for Berkeley City Council to address housing issues

Deborah Matthews/Courtesy

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Deborah Matthews, a real estate broker and community engagement consultant, is running for Berkeley City Council District 3.

Matthews said she is running because she wants to reinvest in the city and bring a “fresh start” to the residents of South Berkeley a vibrant community that she thinks should be acknowledged and given the opportunity to shine.

For the past 40 years, Matthews has been devoted to civic leadership and prioritizing affordable housing. Through her experience and expertise, she said she is able to be a voice for people who have faced challenges obtaining shelter.

“My ability to understand housing development, housing resources at the city and state level will provide our community with the leadership necessary to make positive change,” Matthews said.

To address housing issues, Matthews supports a special provision for those who have been displaced by housing gentrification. She added that accessible housing should be provided to low- and middle-income families, not only to the homeless community.

Through a community land trust and an equity housing cooperative, Matthews said she plans to create affordable opportunities for home ownership if elected.

Another issue Matthews hopes to address is the historical inequality that exists in Berkeley. She added that this should be done through the acknowledgement of issues with current practices and the implementation of fairer policies for everyone in the city.

Equitable education remains an issue that needs to be resolved, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Matthews.

“Because we have the highest percentage of people of color that live in South and West Berkeley, we need to provide free internet services so that kids have the opportunity to use computer tools effectively for online training and learning so that they are not left behind,” Matthews said.

Matthews provided a great perspective of equity and diversity as the co-founder of South Berkeley Now, a volunteer group with the goal of increasing housing in South Berkeley, according to Teresa Clarke, member of the South Berkeley Now Steering Committee.

Clarke added that because Matthews has lived in Berkeley for the last 40 years, she has a strong base and understands how critical housing is for the homeless community and underrepresented residents.

“We’re really excited about someone who’d be on the council who really wants to get things done,” Clarke said.

Contact Zoe Chen at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @zoe_chen820