In April, California Senate leader Darrell Steinberg linked creating more affordable homes to improving our environment, proposing an investment strategy that dedicates 20 percent of new cap-and-trade revenues to housing. The revenue from auctioning carbon credits will help our state reduce greenhouse gases, improve air quality and grow needed investment in a sustainable future.

The connection between reducing greenhouse gases and solving our housing crisis runs even deeper than Steinberg's important introduction. Getting our housing, transit and jobs mix right builds the foundation for a healthier, more secure future for families and workers, and is an investment strategy East Bay leaders and residents should rally around.

Affordable homes are good for our environment and our sense of community. Housing development along transit corridors and near job centers reduces greenhouse gas emissions and wasted commute hours.

Because mission-driven nonprofit housing developers build, hold and operate properties for decades, green durable materials, energy efficiency, waste recycling and sustainability are in their DNA.

Permanently-affordable housing developments fight gentrification and displacement, helping to strengthen communities and preserve the Bay Area culture and diversity we love.

Innovation and commitment to sustainability are key components of the success of the affordable housing movement.


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This year, as East Bay Housing Organizations celebrates its 30th anniversary, we recall the Reagan-era crisis, when federal funding for affordable housing for low-wage workers, seniors and others on modest budgets was slashed by 75 percent. HUD partnerships with faith-based and community organizations were replaced by complex tax credits and private investment.

EBHO members, including affordable housing developers, community leaders, and social service agencies, developed new public-private-nonprofit partnerships, funding strategies, and comprehensive services that continue to build healthier, safer, more secure communities.

Communities throughout the Bay Area -- from San Francisco's Mission to West and East Oakland, to Fremont and Antioch -- are experiencing the disruption of a deepening affordability crisis.

Housing California, a statewide advocacy organization, estimates that 1 million more homes affordable to low-wage workers, seniors, and others are needed statewide.

Investing in these homes will benefit residents, communities and our environment, but local communities are finding financial doors closing. Voters approved Prop 1C in 2006, which leveraged more than $1.6 billion in federal and private investment for transit-oriented housing development, but met only a portion of the demand and is now depleted.

Gov. Jerry Brown eliminated $1 billion annually in redevelopment funding. Steinberg's proposal recognizes the connection between home, transportation and climate change, and provides a first step toward urgently needed solutions to these interconnected crises.

This May, Alameda and Contra Costa counties, along with 18 cities, have recognized Affordable Housing Week and EBHO's 30th anniversary by issuing proclamations that state, "Rising housing costs and economic factors have led to increasing displacement, overcrowding and homelessness that threaten our region's diversity and economic prosperity... . Development of affordable homes close to public transit and jobs will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and strengthen the economy by providing low income families better access to opportunities."

Join the movement for affordability and sustainability by learning more at www.housingca.org and www.ebho.org, or attending one of the following Affordable Housing Week activities: 1 to 3 p.m., Wednesday, Century Village, 41299 Paseo Padre Pkwy, Fremont; 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Thursday, Alameda Point Tours, 703 Atlantic Ave., Alameda. 3 to 5 p.m., Thursday, California Hotel, 3501 San Pablo Ave., Oakland.

Amie Fishman is executive director of the East Bay Housing Organizations, a membership organization of nonprofit housing developers and residents.