Transportation Justice and Housing Program
Our StrategyUrban Habitat links transportation justice efforts at the local, regional, state, and national levels. This coordinated strategy is necessary to ensure that local and regional victories are not erased by budget crises at higher political scales—such as when the state of California moved to eliminate STA transit operation support, negating most of the gains we had secured at the ballot box in our 2008 victory on the local Measure V V campaign. We use three broad approaches to push for equitable distribution of transportation benefits:
• Reframing the Debate
We bring a race and class analysis to forefront of the debate over transportation investments, and make sure that equity considerations are at the heart of the transportation movement.
• Equalizing Investments
We analyze transportation investments and projects and work to win a greater share of funding for the basic transit service that low-income people and people of color rely on every day.
• Building the Base
By increasing the capacity of communities that have historically lacked political and economic power, we build a transportation movement that centers the experience of those that depend on transit. [More]
On December 6, an important step was taken in the battle to keep neighborhoods, with good transit, affordable to the low-income residents who depend on the bus and BART to get to work, school and other places they go to daily.
The Alameda County Transportation Commission (ACTC) Board voted on a final set of One Bay Area Grant (OBAG) Scoring Criteria. Responding to the recommendations of Urban Habitat and members of the Equitable Transit Oriented Development Coalition (see list below), the Board increased the possible points earned for affordable housing and anti-displacement to 9 (from 3). They also increased the points for projects that improve access to frequent transit to 6 (from 3).
For the first time in its history, San Francisco youth will be able to travel to and from school, work, after-school programs and other activities throughout the city for free.
A vote by the San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency board (SFMTA) on Wednesday to approve the Free Muni for Low-Income Youth means that the cost of public transit no longer will be a barrier to opportunity for young people in San Francisco.
For the past two years, youth and transit advocates tirelessly fought to transform the free Muni program from an idea into a reality.
B1’s incredibly narrow loss is bittersweet for us at Urban Habitat, who had worked incredibly hard to make sure it would improve transit for Alameda County’s low-income and working-class residents.
Measure B1 included many important benefits to the county’s transportation system and, particularly its most vulnerable residents — in the form of funds for restoring AC Transit service, improving paratransit for the elderly and disabled, new bike lanes and sidewalks, and seed funding for a countywide Free Student Bus Pass program. These are all funds badly needed to put Alameda County on a path toward more sustainable and equitable transportation modes.
The funds in B1 would have enabled AC Transit to add back bus lines that had been cut, expand evening and weekend service, and make buses run more frequently and more on-time. Without B1, AC Transit may need to cut further from its already skeletal service, and it will definitely try to push another fare hike on its already-taxed riders.
Hard work and heartfelt testimony by young people and their allies broadened support for Free Muni for Youth among the members of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC)—but MTC still wasn’t ready to fund a project that mainly benefits low-income youth and youth of color. The Commission rejected a proposal to allocate $4 million to the Free Youth Pass pilot program by a vote of 8 to 7 at its July 25 meeting. Commissioners from San Francisco, the Peninsula and the South Bay backed the program, while East Bay and North Bay representatives opposed it.
Youth from POWER (People Organized to Win Employment Rights) responded to the vote with an unscheduled public comment, filling the room with chants of “Spread the word, spread the truth/Free Muni for all our youth!” and “We’ll be back!” before leaving the building.
Around 70 youth and supporters from all over the Bay Area attended the Wednesday morning MTC meeting. On the steps outside the agency’s headquarters after the vote, San Francisco Supervisor David Campos put the events in perspective.
A key vote at the July 11 meeting of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) will determine whether low-income San Francisco youth will be able to get to school free next year. Youth and community leaders from around the Bay Area will converge at the meeting to urge the Commission to make youth a priority and approve the last of the funds needed to make San Francisco’s pilot Free Youth Pass program a reality. The Free MUNI Muni for Youth Coalition will hold a press conference Wednesday, July 11 at 10 a.m. at 390 Main St., San Francisco; MTC’s Planning and Allocations Committee is scheduled to discuss the Youth Pass funding at 10:45 on the first floor.
“A well-resourced, successful pilot program in San Francisco would provide much-needed relief for struggling families in the city, and would set an example for other cities as well,” said Maria Poblet, Executive Director of Causa Justa::Just Cause.