Last year, hundreds of APEN members got together to take on the issues that matter most — rising energy costs, skyrocketing rents, and hazardous living conditions that are destabilizing our communities. Together, we created a solution that makes it possible for working class families across California to live in safe and affordable homes.
Now, our Healthy Homes solution is officially Assembly Bill 1232!
The bill directs existing state energy efficiency funds to improve habitability in the places that need it most — neighborhoods with the highest rates of pollution and poverty. It provides funds for working class families to fix leaky roofs, insulate walls, and eliminate mold. In exchange for funding real upgrades, it guarantees that rents won’t go up.
Healthy Homes comes from the experiences of our members who came to the US as immigrants and refugees. They didn’t have a lot of money and endured unsafe living and work conditions, in hopes that their kids could have a little more.
“Now, many of our members are older and are seeing their kids struggle high rents and unsafe living conditions,” says APEN Oakland Organizer, Kenneth Tang. “They’re asking, ‘Why can’t we start from a place where everyone’s home is healthy? Why should people have to sacrifice their health to keep a roof over their head?’”
“We created Healthy Homes because our health is important,” says Christina Saeteurn, APEN Leader. “It’s an epidemic. I’ve seen so many people get kicked out of their homes or forced to live in really bad conditions because they’re afraid that if they speak up, their rent will go up. Our communities need healthy places where people can live long-term.”
We know that passing Healthy Homes won’t be easy. Big developers, landlords, and the legislators they fund may oppose our bill or try to make substantial amendments so it no longer serves its purpose.
That’s why we are organizing. In the coming months, we will show up at our legislator’s offices and on our neighbors’ doorsteps. We will ask people across the state facing similar issues to call their legislators. Together, we can advance our solutions and protect our communities.
“Safe and stable housing is something everyone needs. It’s a human right,” says Chu Tsai Chou, APEN Leader. “If we look historically, people fought hard for our rights in the US. Our rights did not just fall from the sky. We must ACT to make sure everyone has a healthy home.”
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Correction: The original post attributed the photo of Chu Tsai Chou to Joyce Xi. The caption has been corrected to credit the photographer, Karen Yeung.