Statewide Listening Tour

We’re visiting communities, county by county, listening to people living in poverty and together crafting an agenda to create equal opportunity and end poverty in California.

Past Tour Stops

Compton & Norco

Compton College & Norco College – We met a total of 80 racially diverse, multi-generational students including young people, parents, people attending school while working multiple jobs, people caring for extended families, former foster youth—all trying to get on a path to mobility while struggling to afford basic needs. Housing affordability and stability is a top concern not for a few of them, but nearly all of them.

Students also shared stories about struggles with the safety net: Receiving conflicting information from government agencies about how to apply. Lost applications. Repeated requests for the same documents. Demeaning treatment.

Both schools work hard to help students obtain basic needs —hiring new staff to help navigate the safety net, helping to find emergency housing, working with the state on new housing initiatives, and more.

Top Policy Takeaways:

  • Family housing/affordable housing for community college students

  • Expand grants to help with non-tuition costs

  • Family housing/affordable housing for community college students

  • Reforming access to benefits

  • Preserving dignity when people seek assistance
  • Los Angeles

    Young Women’s Freedom Center – We joined 50 members of the Sister Warriors Freedom Coalition to hear about the struggles they have faced as primarily women and non-binary people of color impacted by incarceration, the juvenile legal and foster systems, and poverty. Many spoke of the drop in supports like child care subsidies, housing assistance, or food that happens just as someone makes progress towards financial stability. Others highlighted the exploitation of incarcerated people earning cents an hour in prison. While there was frustration over continued advocacy failing to yield lasting change, there was also a commitment to continue to organize and raise their voices for change.

    Top Policy Takeaways:

  • Guaranteed income

  • End benefits cliff

  • Abolish indentured servitude

  • Increase compensation for work and provide education and apprenticeship opportunities during incarceration

  • Invest in alternatives to youth incarceration
  • Fresno

    Faith in the Valley – Fresno community members, many of whom have been sharing their stories and advocating for change for years, shared their fatigue at the lack of action to tackle poverty in their community. They discussed the challenges of finding affordable housing in a city with one of the highest rates of rent increase in the nation, the struggles with inadequate healthcare, and the lingering impact of historical oppressions like redlining and eminent domain. But they were determined to continue to build power and fight for bold change. As one resident put it, “It’s not easy not to give up. But if you give up, then who’s left?”

    Top Policy Takeaways:

  • Renter protections, rent control, and right to counsel in housing court

  • Youth workforce development

  • Living wage for farmworkers

  • Guaranteed income to establish income floor

  • Immigration reform/pathway to citizenship

  • Reforming access to benefits

  • Focusing on policies to end hunger in California (such as Food4All)
  • Ontario

    Small Business Majority and AmPac Business Capital – We met with 30 small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs who were either living in poverty or had experienced poverty. We heard about the pro-opportunity policies they support to help generate jobs and prosperity that can help prevent poverty and strengthen communities. The entrepreneurs pointed out how people in under-resourced communities are overlooked, their talents wasted, even when they have great ideas responding to community needs. And finally, we heard about the importance of providing resources and technical assistance that help individuals to take a risk and build stability for themselves and their communities.

    Top Policy Takeaways:

  • Access to capital

  • Awareness and support of CDFIs, including possible state CDFI fund

  • Reform state and federal contracting

  • Streamline applications for grants and microloans

  • Financial assistance programs for Black and Brown entrepreneur

  • State and local governments partner on information-sharing regarding people, resources, classes, etc.

  • Baby Bonds to establish wealth floor
  • Antioch

    All Home CA – We visited with about 40 community organizers and tenants who shared stories of landlords not accepting state funds for partial rent payments, or refusing to work out payment plans. California may be spending billions to help the homeless and renters, but the help is failing to reach many of the real people facing eviction. Antioch is an eviction capital of the Bay Area and for many residents, right to counsel should be considered a basic need. We challenged the organizers to become more involved in the political process and we were thrilled that just a few days laters many showed up at the Antioch City Council to voice support for a measure to cap rent increases to max 3%. The measure was approved.

    Top Policy Takeaways:

  • Right to legal counsel for tenants with low-incomes who face eviction

  • Rent control

  • Streamline process to approve affordable housing projects

  • Reexamine Article 34
  • Oakland

    SEIU CA & Fight for $15- We met with 20 workers who shared their workplace struggles with wage theft, violence, and the need to strike when employers fail to address unacceptable working conditions such as extreme heat. Across the board, fast food workers experienced cuts in hours when they tried to organize or voice their concerns. Workers were unanimous that AB 257 would be transformative, creating the nation’s first-ever council of workers, industry reps, and state officials to set wages and workplace standards. With the fast food industry’s ballot repeal effort underway, workers know that we’ll need all hands on deck to make sure people know the truth about this issue.

    Top Policy Takeaways:

  • Protecting AB257 from the Fast Food Industry’s ballot initiative

  • Raising wages and ensuring benefits

  • Preventing retaliation from employers
  • Tell us why EPIC should come to your city

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