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. Read about the 2022 tour in the Los Angeles Times and our interactive report.

Past Tour Stops


Puertas Abiertas Community Resource Center and All Home CA – We visited with about 40 Latino men and women who pick grapes, clean hotels, and perform many of the other service sector jobs that ultimately create Napa’s wealth. The county’s wine industry yields nearly $8 billion annually, and yet many of the workers struggle with housing, including: finding anything affordable; landlords who won’t address bad living conditions and raise rents at will; and a lack of representation in eviction court. Farmworker housing for women doesn’t even exist. Workers who are long-time residents can never afford to purchase a home and build wealth no matter how long and hard they work. Moreover, people who are working while undocumented are threatened with deportation if they advocate for their rights as tenants or employees. Many of the people we spoke with also live in unincorporated “islands” within city limits so they are unable to vote for local elected officials.

Top Policy Takeaways:

  • Right to legal counsel for tenants with low-incomes

  • Landlord accountability and enforcement of basic living standards

  • Rent control

  • Dignified, affordable housing

  • Protect and advance rights of immigrants

  • Wealth building opportunities

  • Voting representation
  • Santa Rosa

    Latino Service Providers – We met with approximately 30 young adults, ages 18-25. Cost of living was top of mind–for housing, education, healthcare, and more. Many were struggling to help support their families while in school. Many dropped out of higher education because it was cost prohibitive, even while working. Economic strain is taking a toll on families, and the group reported a consequent increase in divorces, more kids working jobs, and a lack of time for any self-care. Too many full-time jobs only pay enough to cover the cost of childcare and not much else. There was an overall sense that it will be difficult to remain in California due to the rising cost of living. Uncertainty around immigration policy—even for DACA-recipients—stifles opportunities, makes people reluctant to advocate for themselves, and leads to exploitation. Young people also want to see more people with lived experience similar to theirs in elected office so there is a deeper awareness, empathy, and policy response to these struggles.

    Top Policy Takeaways:

  • Right to legal counsel for tenants with low-incomes

  • Rent control

  • Protect and advance rights of immigrants

  • Jobs that pay family-supporting wages

  • Elect leaders with lived experience as immigrants

  • Affordable healthcare

  • Affordable childcare
  • Pajaro

    Ohlone Elementary School – We visited with 20 parents, faculty and staff a little less than three months after the levee broke and flooded their town. We found a community of 3,500 that had been ignored when the disaster hit and they were under 2-3 feet of water, despite its location within wealthy Monterey County. There was an awareness that things would have been different if the town were predominately white and wealthy, like in nearby Monterey, rather than majority farmworkers. The community formed a kind of mutual aid network for food, clothing, rent and other necessities. But the town has limited resources. Even before the flood, up to five families might be sharing one, substandard apartment due to the cost of housing. They dug up sludge themselves–toxic from pesticide runoff–when waters receded. The students have returned to school with new traumas from evacuation, shelters, and destroyed homes. The school shares a single mental health counselor with another school, so the waiting lists are long.

    Top Policy Takeaways:

  • Strengthen disaster response in marginalized communities

  • Affordable housing

  • Shortage of mental health counselors

  • Immigrant access to public assistance
  • 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
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