Local law group informs community on racial equity in Kern housing

April 14, 2021 /

Greater Bakersfield Legal Assistance staff held a virtual webinar Wednesday to inform residents on racial equity in Kern County Housing.

Michael Bowers, Director of Political and Government Affairs with Centric Health, talked about how history has impacted home ownership among the African Americans population.

“White’s are ten times more advanced economically than African American males because African Americans weren’t allowed to own their own home; they had to rent a home,” said Bowers.

Because zip codes often determine many aspects of people’s lives, Bowers said African Americans are limited when picking a school to send their kids, when looking for job opportunities and when going to grocery stores. Where these schools and stores are located matters to a community, according to Bowers.

Valerie Feldman, a staff attorney with Public Interest Law Project, talked about housing elements.

“Every city and every country is asked to adopt a general plan which is like a constitution for the community,” said Feldman. “The housing element is seen as the preeminent chapter; it has statutory requirements of what needs to be included, it gets revised by the state agency to see if it has everything and it has to be revised every eight years.”

Feldman said housing elements are really a global look of one’s community, so who lives there and what surrounds that particular community, such as grocery stores, schools, parks and more.

“Allowing small homes to be built where they aren’t usually allows one of the ways housing segregation is undone,” Feldman said.

Assembly Bill 686 was created as a duty of all public agencies to further fair housing to take action that will undo not only discriminaion, but housing segregation patterns Feldman said.

GBLA’s Fair Housing Law Project will continue hosting a virtual series of conferences for renters to provide more information or assistance.

Those interested in attending future webinars can register by heading to GBLAFairHousing.org or by calling (661)501-0372. The next events include:

April 21 from 10-11 a.m.: Source of Income and COVID-19 Rental Assistance Programs

April 28 from 10-11 a.m.: Tenants’ Rights for Survivors of Domestic and Sexual Violence