As we work to expand access to affordable homeownership, Habitat believes that historical context is critical to serving effectively and with intention. In that light, we have created a four-part educational series that takes a look at housing history in our region. We begin with a regional overview, and continue on to spotlight three cities across our three-county service area. 

Understanding our history is a priority year-round, but at this time of year, we wanted to take a moment to do so mindfully. Each April, we mark Fair Housing Month, commemorating the 1968 passage of the Fair Housing Act. In May, we celebrate Affordable Housing Month, during which we raise awareness and galvanize action around affordable housing issues. 

We invite you to read, learn, and reflect with us, and join us in committing to building a more equitable housing future.

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Fair Housing: Looking Back to Build Forward

This substantive overview examines the history of fair housing in Habitat for Humanity East Bay/Silicon Valley's three-county service area of Alameda, Contra Costa, and Santa Clara counties. Read on for an in-depth look at policies and tactics that contributed to profoundly unfair housing whose ramifications persist today.

WWII Richmond saw Black and White residents working but not living side by side. Photo courtesy of the Richmond Museum of History, Richmond, California. Reprinted in The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein.

Richmond: Wartime Work and Unfair Housing

Next, we visit the city of Richmond (and neighboring North Richmond) at a point in its history when its demographics shifted dramatically: the onset of World War II. In this spotlight, we examine how early housing segregation set up a legacy of injustice we are still working to remedy.

Ben Gross's car parked at Ford in 1962. Photo courtesy of The Sabin Family. Reprinted in "Looking back at the Ford Motor Company plant in Milpitas," by Rhoda Shapiro, 22 May 2018. The Milpitas Beat,

Milpitas: A Study in Systemic Exclusion

The series continues with a review of postwar Milpitas, where a protracted fight for housing integration yielded a limited victory – and a valuable lesson in the importance of the Fair Housing Act, and the means by which it might be subverted.

West Oakland was the cultural, civic, and commercial center of Black life in the city. Reprinted in Images of American: The Pullman Porters and West Oakland by Thomas and Wilma Tramble.

West Oakland: Mapped by Destruction

We end our series in West Oakland. This historic Black neighborhood was booming and engaged in wartime, but the decades following the war saw the decimation of the neighborhood's housing stock and a thriving cultural and commercial center. 

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