50th Anniversary Gala

Join us—alums, social justice activists, lawyers and policy makers—as we celebrate five decades of community partnership and social change on Thursday, October 20, 2022 at the Commonwealth Club from 6-8:30 pm. We are thrilled that Ai-jen Poo, president of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, will be the keynote speaker for our Anniversary Gala. The program will feature awards and a spoken word performance from renowned artist and activist, Porsche Veu, aka The Poetic Activist. It will be a memorable night of friendship, music, reflection and inspiration overlooking the San Francisco Bay! 

For the safety of our guests, all attendees will be asked to show proof of COVID vaccinations. Masks will be required indoors, and guests will be given the option of viewing the program in indoor and outdoor areas.

Legislative Victories for Equity in Higher Education and Housing

As California continues to prepare for a post-pandemic future, this year’s session ended with strong statehouse victories for college students and some of our most vulnerable neighbors. 

Helping College Students Achieve Success

Building on a groundbreaking 2017 law, AB 1705—authored by Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin (AD-44)—will reform remedial placement policies at the state’s community colleges and strengthen compliance at those disproportionately Black and Brown student-serving schools.

"With the signing of AB 1705, thousands more Black and Brown students will now enroll in the courses where they have the greatest chance of success, no matter where they attend college,” said Jetaun Stevens, senior staff attorney with Public Advocates. “This bill brings the California Community College system one step closer to closing persistent racial equity gaps and fulfilling the Vision for Success and Multiyear Roadmap. We thank the Governor and Legislature for their steadfast commitment to equity in higher education." 

Banning Scholarship Displacement

Student debt has been a big topic in this year’s higher education landscape. While there has been much talk recently about President Biden’s federal loan forgiveness program, in California, higher education advocates have been pursuing AB 288—authored by Assemblymembers Mia Bonta (AD-18) and Lisa Calderon (AD-57)— to end scholarship displacement

“Scholarship displacement,'' is a little known but common practice wherein one form of a student’s financial aid, like a university grant, is reduced or canceled when the student receives an outside scholarship. Scholarship displacement impacts thousands of students across California and the United States, unnecessarily undermining their ability to seek additional sources of funding for their education. AB 288 bans scholarship displacement for over 1 million low-income college students in California. California is now the fifth state to outlaw scholarship displacement.

Keeping Survivors Housed

SB 1017 (Eggman) will strengthen eviction protections for survivors of violence and abuse, ensuring they will not lose their housing because of violence committed against them. “Studies show that up to 57% of all homeless women are homeless as a direct result of domestic violence” said Suzanne Dershowitz, Staff Attorney with Public Advocates. “The signing of SB 1017 will go a long way toward preventing displacement during a historic housing crisis.”
Local Housing Justice Campaigns Bring Historic Results for Tenants

This summer Public Advocates worked with powerful local tenants’ rights campaigns across California. It was moving to see our neighbors and partners build influential movements locally, particularly in regions where, historically, tenant organizing has not gained traction before. 

Building off our previous work in San Mateo County, Public Advocates joined community partner Faith in Action Bay Area, to advocate for an anti-displacement policy platform in Redwood City. Due to the community’s organizing, the City Council unanimously voted to approve an Anti-Displacement Strategy, which included a commitment to pass a tenant anti-harassment policy that protects tenants from landlord harassment! 

Public Advocates also contributed to a Faith in Action Bay Area-produced documentary highlighting the powerful stories of Faith in Action Bay Area leaders who are organizing to change their housing situation after facing discrimination, unjust evictions, and unsafe living conditions. The film is a compelling reflection of how community organizing can build power for a local tenants’ rights campaign.
Photo: Ernestina, leader of Faith in Action Bay Area, Redwood City resident. Faith in Action Bay Area 

In other notable news, on September 12, Petaluma became the first city in Sonoma County to pass a Just Cause for Eviction ordinance, preventing renters from being evicted for arbitrary reasons. Public Advocates supported an amazing campaign led by North Bay Organizing Project and Legal Aid of Sonoma County. The ordinance has strong elements like closing loopholes in the California Tenant Protection Act (TPA) and expanding coverage to a wider range of properties. It also regulates evictions when the landlord wishes to remove the property from the rental market, a major way landlords have been skirting the intent of the TPA in Sonoma County.

Bay Area Housing Element Enforcement and Advocacy Update

📢 Public Advocates has also continued local work and regional coordination as Bay Area cities and counties update their mandatory local housing plans. Our updated Housing Elements webpage has all the latest! Learn more about our advocacy and enforcement work to keep cities and communities accountable to their local affordable housing plans. 
Public Advocates Welcomes New Staff Members and Fellows
Photo: left to right: Latrel Powell, Chanée Franklin Minor, Karissa Provenza, and Skylar Spear.

Chanée Franklin Minor joins us as deputy managing attorney. Minor is a seasoned housing policy attorney and civil rights leader who has worked for nearly two decades on rent-control, anti-displacement, and antidiscrimination issues.

An inspiring group of Law Fellows has also recently joined Public Advocates. We are excited to welcome Latrel Powell, a recent graduate from the UCLA School of Law; Karissa Provenza, a graduate of UC Hastings College of the Law, and Skylar Spear, a recent graduate of New York University School of Law.
Public Advocates in the News

Radio Bilingüe interviewed Director of Higher Education Sbeydeh Viveros-Walton about education equity….. Paso Robles Daily News and Pasadena Now featured Senior Staff Attorney Jetaun Stevens on the passage of AB 1705 in the State Senate….. Director of Higher Education, Sbeydeh Viveros-Walton and Nadja Jepsen, Senior Financial Programs & Scholarships Director at College Track wrote an op-ed on the need to eliminate scholarship displacement, published by EdSource. ….. EdSource published an article about newly released state data on teacher quality including the work of Public Advocates….. Market Watch interviewed Staff Attorney Suzanne Dershowitz on housing affordability….. Mercury News interviewed Managing Attorney John Affeldt for an investigative piece on the lack of accountability and oversight of COVID aid to schools….. EdSource interviewed Managing Attorney John Affeldt for a story which examines teachers’ credentials and training, and new statewide data.

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