Housing and homelessness were among the major topics discussed during the city’s budget study session at the city council meeting on Monday night.
Addressing the many housing advocates present in the council chambers, Council member Diane Howard expressed her excitement about the plan to hire two more staff members, bringing the total to four to implement the city’s new Anti-Displacement Strategy.
“I am so excited about this program. Not every city’s doing that,” she said. “We’re taking this commitment to homelessness and helping people in our community very seriously.”
During the public comment portion of the study session, 14 Faith in Action members, clad in matching yellow t-shirts, spoke on behalf of Redwood City’s low-income renters. While applauding the decision to employ four full-time employees to oversee the new Anti-Displacement Strategy, the organizers made a unified plea for more aggressive enforcement of tenant protections.
“I strongly urge you to support approving the four total full time housing division staff,” said resident Clara Jackal. “And I also urge you to make tenant protections the top priority for at least one of the additional staff members. The longer that we wait, the more families that are being forced out of their homes and out of the city.”
Jason Miles, Chair of the Mid‐Peninsula Chapter of the ACLU, also demanded that the city prioritize implementing anti-harassment policies and eviction safeguards. He asked the city to “uphold your part of the social contract” by “ensuring that the city’s taxpaying yet seemingly voiceless residents indeed have their voice heard.”
Describing experiences with harassment and increasingly high rents, resident Ernestina Colin said living in Redwood City caused “a lot of stress and worry.”
“Our home doesn’t really feel like our home,” she said in Spanish. “I ask that you support a law that can protect us.”
The city said it has made housing one of its top priorities in its proposed budget and plans to allocate roughly $4.2 million towards rolling out several homelessness initiatives. These would include: finalizing the 2023-2031 Housing Element, implementing a new Anti-Displacement Strategy with four full-time Housing Division employees and working towards the county’s goal of achieving functional zero homelessness.