Inland Region Powers Multi-Racial Organizing for Housing Justice
Stories Inland Region Racial Justice
F4ICA Expands Investment to Region and Strengthens Coastal and Inland Ties
The Fund for an Inclusive California expanded our support of power building for housing justice and equitable development to include the Inland Region1 to deepen statewide investments and strengthen ties between inland and coastal communities. We recognized the region’s long history of multi-racial organizing, and facilitated groups to “build a collaborative that did not exist [in the region] before.”2
The Inland Region’s relatively low housing costs drew tens of thousands of people and families from Los Angeles and Orange Counties to San Bernardino and Riverside over the past decade or more.3 A record number of California families have been priced out of their homes, with communities fighting to keep housing affordable for all.
Despite relatively lower costs, limited economic opportunity and the region’s longstanding history of white supremacy and racism contribute to housing discrimination and unequal housing access. Harmful “crime-free housing”4 policies developed by law enforcement and property owners deny housing to people of color and their families by preventing anyone with a history of interaction with the police or unjust criminal justice system from accessing housing.
We heard community partners in the Inland Region identify the need for targeted resources and convening infrastructure to organize, advocate, and push back against this systemic racism and housing discrimination.
Targeted funding made it possible for organizers to identify and engage in critical local campaigns responding to worsening housing conditions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. In the first half of 2020, groups came together to secure eviction moratoriums at the local and county levels. Leaders built off these efforts as well as the momentum of the racial uprising in response to George Floyd’s murder to push for San Bernardino County to become the first in California to declare racism a public health crisis.
The Inland Region coalition includes immigrants, young people, Black and Latinx faith leaders, formerly incarcerated people and families, and people who are unhoused. This multi-racial coalition built power and relationships to establish a shared vision for the region: a place for people of all races, faiths, and backgrounds to safely and comfortably call home.
The Funding from F4ICA and others made it possible to engage in rapid response,” said Sonya Gray-Hunn, Lead Housing Organizer at COPE (Congregations Organized for Prophetic Engagement) and an F4ICA Community Advisor. “We’re moving housing advocacy at the state and regional levels and focus locally on direct services, to be able to stop evictions, utility shut offs, and other denial of rights and services.
“We’ve benefited from collaborative funding efforts of our region including through F4ICA,” reflected Tom Dolan, Executive Director of ICUC (Inland Congregations United for Change) and an F4ICA Community Advisor. “Looking ahead, we hope the collective foundation support for the Inland Region will sustain collaborative investments and enable groups to go deep in our efforts to realize long-term housing and economic justice.
For F4ICA, investment and lessons from the Inland Region have shown us that coastal and inland challenges are interconnected, as are opportunities for building toward our collective vision for housing justice and thriving, equitable communities.
1 We learned from local partners that the extreme racism in the Inland Empire created a desire for some community members to distance their efforts from the term “empire.” Through discussion with our local community partners, we resolved to use “Inland Region” as the term to describe this region in our work.
2 Funding Housing Justice for Thriving Communities, Fund for an Inclusive California. August 2021.
3 Los Angeles Times, Tens of thousands leave Los Angeles County for Inland Empire. February 8, 2014.
4 Los Angeles Times, ‘Crime-free housing’ deepens racial disparity. November 19, 2020.