A New Way of Creating Housing Policy Takes Hold in Santa Fe!
In July, 2015, the tireless work of Chainbreaker members, community members and ally organizations paid off when City Council voted unanimously to pass the Resident’s Bill of Rights resolution.
Dozens of Chainbreaker members and community members showed up at the meeting to voice their support for the resolution. After a limited attempt by one City Councilor to make changes that would have significantly weakened the language of the resolution was thwarted, the resolution passed with all City Councilors and the Mayor voting in favor.
The lead sponsor of the resolution, Councilor Maestas , along with Councilors Bushee and Dominguez made very strong statements in support of the resolution, acknowledging the community need and validating the experiences and efforts of the hundreds of Santa Feans who conceived of, created and advanced this resolution.
The resolution takes five pillars from Chainbreaker’s Resident’s Bill of Rights to create a framework for how housing and planning policies should be made from now on. The five pillars are:
- Affordability — Housing in Santa Fe should be affordable relative to household income and other reasonable expenses.
- Quality, Sustainability and Health — Housing in Santa Fe should contribute to individual, family, community and planetary health.
- Accessibility, Fairness and Equity — Housing in Santa Fe must be made accessible to historically marginalized peoples and be well integrated socially and geographically.
- Stability, Permanence and Protection from Displacement — Ensure that Santa Feans’ homes are protected from irrational market forces and changes in government policies over the long term.
- Community Control — Santa Fe’s housing should be controlled democratically with special protections allowed for low-income and neighborhoods of Color.
The passage of this resolution sets the stage for important conversations and new planning policies that support the needs of the community. It creates a precedent and a new tool to hold elected officials accountable to the needs of all Santa Feans.
It is not an end in and of itself. It is only the beginning.
Chainbreaker members will continue to organize to bu ild support for the next steps toward housing justice that this resolution enables.
¡SI SE PUDO!
After months of strategizing and organizing, the tireless work of countless Chainbreaker members finally paid off. On June 12, 2013 our City Council voted unanimously to support our HELP SANTA FEANS RIDE campaign. Help Santa Feans Ride will help people who struggle with transportation costs by distributing free annual bus passes to people who get a bike through the Bicycle Resource Center or buy one at a local store.
In addition to creating a program that is the first of its kind in the country, the campaign also effectively shut down efforts to create a “Bike-Share” program – a taxpayer subsidized bicycle rental program – because it raised serious equity concerns and threatened to leach money away from our already underfunded bus system.
This is an important victory for Chainbreaker members and the community as a whole.
By passing this law, Chainbreaker members were able to highlight transportation as an economic and environmental justice issue, begin conversations about how city planning policies can benefit one group over another – often at the expense of low-income people of color, and create sound public policy that supports the people who bear the brunt of this economy.
The details are still being worked out, but we expect the program to go into effect in August. We will provide updates as they come. Join our email list to keep informed about the progress of this campaign and all our work.
This campaign was such a sweeping success because people like you decided to get involved!
A bond question was included on the ballot during a city election in March, 2012 to expand trail connectivity and create the first regional park in Santa Fe’s South Side. The South Side is an area composed largely of low-income people of color and is disproportionately lacking in infrastructure.
Winning the bond election helped us move our mission forward, but also presented a unique challenge for us because we had never conducted a voter campaign before. In addition, many of our members feel so disenfranchised by the system that they rarely vote and many others are not able to register to vote at all.
We launched a voter registration and education campaign called Votante Pa’Lante to educate our community about this election. We focused on “unlikely” Latino voters in low-income areas of the South Side that are often overlooked by traditional voter campaigns. This campaign allowed us to expand our capacity for community education about the unjust city planning and gentrification that drives the need for expansive transit systems affecting residents of the South Side.
Through our outreach, we created a list of nearly 2,000 people. Our get-out-the-vote efforts on election day documented mobilizing roughly 300 people to vote. We are confidant that several more people wore moved to vote through this campaign, many of whom engaged in the electoral process for the first time. the bond question we were focused on passed by a slim margin of just over 300 votes with our targeted precincts reporting overwhelming support.
Through our Bicycle Resource Center program, we distribute roughly 200 bikes a year and help thousands of people learn the skills to fix their own.
In the summer of 2012, we celebrated reaching the milestone of having distributed 1,000 bikes through the program to people who would otherwise not have been able to afford one. Based on our extremely conservative assumption that 20% are being used as main sources of transportation, we estimate that this program has saved over $1 million in fuel costs, conserved nearly 380,000 gallons of gasoline and prevented over 18 tons of CO2 emissions.
In late 2011, we learned that Santa Fe Trails, our local bus system, had lost $2 million in federal funding. At the same time, our city council was considering what projects to include in a Capital Improvements Projects(CIP) bond package. We knew that this presented an opportunity to continue to build support for public transportation through the bond process.
We mobilized members and successfully pressured city councilors to include $2 million to replace the lost federal transit funding in the bond proposal. We were also able to secure $250,000 for new bicycle infrastructure in the package. Chainbreaker members met with elected officials, generated phone calls and packed the room on the night of the vote. After dozens of Chainbreaker members gave passionate testimonies showing support for public transportation, the bond passed by a 6 to 2 vote. This was the first time in Santa Fe’s history that money for transit was included in a CIP bond.
This effectively eliminated a potential funding gab and circumvented any discussions of cuts to transit during the 2012 budget cycle.
As part of our participation with Transit Riders for Public Transportation, we sent representatives to coalition meetings and took part in a National Organizer’s Exchange for transit justice organizers. We also participated in coordinated education campaigns and generated phone calls to Congress and President Obama. Through this campaign were able to pass a resolution through our City Council calling on Congress to increase funding for national transit operations and reject some of the more harmful aspects of the federal proposals, including streamlining environmental review processes and creating a backdoor for the Keystone XL pipeline.
In 2011 our City Council announced their intention to fill budget gaps with pay cuts for city workers and by de-funding transit. This would have led to sweeping service cuts and fare increases to our already underfunded bus system. In less than three months Chainbreaker members gathered over 600 written testimonials from bus riders, 2,000 petitions opposing cuts and mobilized dozens to attend City Council meetings, give public testimony and call elected officials in support of public transportation. This forced the Council into a compromise that stopped all cuts and fare hikes dead in their tracks. Through this campaign we built strong and lasting relationships with local unions and other community organizations.