California’s housing crisis can seem insurmountable. Reports vary on just the exact number of homes that need to be built. The California State Housing Assessment says 1.8 million homes by 2025. The McKinsey report doubles that number, saying we need 3.6 million homes to bring back a healthy housing market where folks can find many homes to suit their various needs. Rental housing displacement has been going on since late 2013. Alameda’s rent stabilization laws went into effect in April of 2016. It’s readily apparent that housing construction needs to be fast tracked and yet our state is still not building at a rate that will see this housing shortage disappear anytime soon.
Activism is hard work and it’s a collaborative effort and while we’re seeing growing numbers of people joining the movement and creating pro-housing organizations of their own, it’s still easy to get burnt out. What’s the point of working so hard if a problem isn’t being taken seriously, or the funds aren’t there to address it, and the lawmakers with power are dragging their feet?
In moments like these, it’s important to remember that Renewed Hope itself is the continuation of Alameda’s fair housing movement in the 1960’s and that Lois Pryor, one of the organizers of that movement is still an activist with us today. This brings to mind a recent article from the UK’s Guardian: Protest and Persist: why giving up hope is not an option by Rebecca Solnit. It shows that even if an activist movement does not achieve its initial aims that the movement has ripple effects that can last for generations, and that this hard work is worth doing.
Activism is a long game and those new at it must cultivate a point of view that embraces continued spurts of activism and rest when the time calls for it. However, as Rebecca Solnit’s piece shows: we must never give up.