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Housing Lobby Day

Each year, the state of California’s legislators allows housing advocates, activists, and allies throughout the state to visit (or lobby in this case) them in their offices in Sacramento to ask them for their support for current housing bills that have been identified as priorities via Housing California/RUN (Residents United Network). This year was no exception. The difference this year was that it was all scheduled online (via ZOOM).

Lobbying is meant to hold elected officials accountable and to build power amongst their constituents. It’s the biggest day of the year to encourage legislators to support affordable housing.

BOSS Bay Area Shelter in Berkeley
Ursula Sherman Village - Berkeley

California’s homeless population is disproportionately Black, brown, LGBTQ+, foster youth, justice-system involved, people with disabilities, and other marginalized populations. The largest sub-population is single adults. BOSS assists our unhoused neighbors in obtaining and maintaining permanent housing in order to be housed and stable. BOSS works toward this aim by offering low-cost housing choices, including both emergency shelter and supported independent living.

BOSS staff - Gwen Austin and Janine Bouie, joined other housing advocates from across the state to participate in the annual housing lobby day (April 27, 2022) where they joined Housing California’s RUN program. RUN is a statewide advocacy organization that focuses on both homelessness and housing affordability through an equity-focused lens. RUN itself builds power among residents and staff of affordable housing to change laws so that every Californian has a safe, stable, and affordable home. RUN has locations in seven regions in California that include: San Diego, Inland Empire, Orange County, Los Angeles, Bay Area, San Joaquin, and Sacramento.

Housing California’s 2022 Policy Agenda focuses on community members most in need of an affordable place to call home.

Prior to the actual lobby day, we attended a training day and then a Rally Day. They scheduled all the meetings with our legislators from both sides of the aisles. All we had to do was show up, and be prepared to take on one of the roles assigned to us in order to advocate and get support for the legislative bills we were there to advocate for.

This year, meetings were virtual. Normally we would all converge onto the steps of the Capitol in Sacramento and visit the legislators in their offices. Typically, on a day when the halls of the Capitol are full of people coming and going from legislators’ offices, our excitement and civic duty were still on display as we did our meetings via ZOOM.

The two housing bills we were advocating for were:

AB1961 (Statewide affordable housing database) Introduced by Assemblyman Jesse Gabriel

Both of these bills are part of California’s Roadmap Home 2030, an evidence-based, equity-centered, and comprehensive approach to advancing racial equity, ending homelessness, and creating stable, affordable homes for all Californians.

BOSS Family

I was able to give some input regarding AB1961. Also, my team was comprised of two people that I worked with from Home Rise SF – a colleague and the other was a previous homeless family that I helped to get housed in San Francisco - Janine Bouie

Janine says she learned a lot and is eager to learn more.

She is thankful for the opportunity to be part of an amazing LOBBY DAY 2022.

I just love knowing that regular people can help make a difference in how policies and laws are shaped and passed just by showing up and being part of the change. Laws that help and not hurt those who are in our communities to get (and have access to) affordable housing and to streamline the process which is what these two bills would do if they are passed. From the meetings, it looks like both bills have a very good chance of passing - Gwen Austin

RECAP of the Day: Housing California/RUN had 13 teams that were made up of Californians from 56 zip codes with up to FIVE meetings (per team) in one day -

  • Of the 51 meetings scheduled, there was one cancellation.

  • All teams were comprised of a team leader, storytellers, a note-taker, and a bill presenter.

  • There were two new co-authors for AB 1961 (Assembly members Kalra and Cristina Garcia) … and a whole lot of “maybes” from staffers when we asked for support.

In summary, we got to meet, ask for support, and share stories with our legislators or their Aide/Staffer (from both sides of the aisles) for housing bills AB1816 and AB1961. We also made some wonderful connections (some we already knew) with other housing advocates/activists/allies from across the state. The day was not only exciting to learn more about the legislative process, but we also came away from the day with a better understanding of how the legislative process works and the impact it has to be able to represent our communities for affordable housing.

Meekland -Cherryland Unincorporated Community

For more information about BOSS' Housing Security Programs go to

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