EBHO is a member-driven organization working to preserve, protect, and create affordable housing opportunities for low-income communities in the East Bay by educating, advocating, organizing, and building coalitions.

Our History

The 31-year history of East Bay Housing Organizations (EBHO) demonstrates the power and effectiveness of membership-driven, community-based advocacy for affordable housing.

Founded in Oakland in 1984 with the support of Oakland Citizens Committee for Urban Renewal (OCCUR), EBHO began as a monthly brown-bag lunch meeting to discuss housing issues and strategize how to build community support for affordable housing. Known as Oakland Housing Organizations (OHO), the coalition of organizations and individuals advocated for affordable housing, particularly for the most vulnerable, lowest-income communities.

In 1995, OHO incorporated, elected a board of directors, extended its focus to include all of Alameda County, and changed its name to East Bay Housing Organizations. In 1999, EBHO expanded to Contra Costa County and  broadened its range of issues, committees and allies.

Over the years, EBHO’s work has relied on three interrelated strategies: 1) Community education to dispel fears and misconceptions, and demonstrate that affordable homes are a positive and critical investment; 2) Policy advocacy to leverage the expertise of EBHO’s members to advance local affordable housing solutions; and 3) Coalition-building to win victories for affordable homes.

EBHO has strengthened its regional impact and perspective while remaining rooted in local communities through the membership base and partnerships. Thirty-one years later, EBHO stays true to its origins, bringing people together to advocate for affordable housing for the lowest-income communities.

Key Milestones in EBHO’s 31-Year History:

 1984–1989: The Early Years

With the support of OCCUR, OHO starts as monthly brown-bag lunch meetings in which housing advocates and professionals discuss Oakland housing issues.

1989–1993: Earthquake Recovery

In the wake of the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake, hundreds of extremely low-income residents of single-room occupancy (SRO) residential hotels in downtown Oakland are left homeless when their buildings were declared unsafe. Working with Legal Aid attorneys, the city’s housing department and local non-profit developers, OHO spearheads the effort to acquire and rehabilitate the hotels— over 900 units—as permanent, service-enriched housing. OHO administers a Red Cross fund for pre-development loans and helps non-profits share best practices. Based on these successes, OHO hires its first full-time director.

1994–1996: Formation of EBHO

Post-quake efforts and emerging activities outside Oakland spur the group to incorporate independently from OCCUR and expand throughout Alameda County. The first 11-member Board of Directors of the new East Bay Housing Organizations takes office in January 1995. Stepping forward to run the organization, the Board raises funds to hire a new director.

 1995-1998: Affordable Housing Education Campaign

In collaboration with the East Bay AIA chapter, EBHO develops a Yes In My Backyard! (YIMBY) campaign designed to engage policymakers, neighborhood organizations and other groups throughout Alameda County about the need for, and benefits of, affordable housing in their communities. EBHO members conducts tours and presentations for dozens of City Council and Planning Commission members as well as city staff, neighborhood leaders and members of community and faith organizations.

1997: The First Affordable Housing Week and Guidebook

A natural outgrowth of the Education Campaign, the 1997 Affordable Housing Week becomes a tradition that spurs similar efforts in the Bay Area and throughout California. Also in 1997, EBHO members distribute 2,500 copies of the first annual Affordable Housing Guidebook. The theme: “Affordable Housing is a Good Neighbor.”

1995–1999: Expansion

In the years following incorporation, EBHO greatly expands its efforts, becoming involved in education and housing policy advocacy around the East Bay.

1999–2004: 10K and the Workforce Housing Campaign

Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown takes office in January 1999 with a plan to bring 10,000 residents to downtown Oakland. EBHO supports new housing downtown but insists that it include housing affordable to all Oaklanders, not just affluent newcomers. EBHO forms the Coalition for Workforce Housing with a platform that at least 25% of housing built under the “10K plan” be “downtown housing for the downtown workforce.”

The first Coalition victory ensures that proceeds from the sale of four city-owned sites is used for affordable housing. The Coalition then wins key commitments in the Uptown project: 20% of the 700 Forest City apartments will be affordable to very low-income households, plus the city carves out a parcel for 80 apartments for very low-income families.

2000–2001: Oakland Housing Task Force and Increased Funding

As an outgrowth of EBHO’s campaigns, City Councilmember Jane Brunner forms a Housing Task Force in 2000. EBHO’s leadership helps develop its final recommendations, which include a commercial jobs/housing linkage fee, inclusionary zoning, and an increase the Redevelopment Agency’s allocation of tax increment funds to affordable housing from the state-mandated 20% to 25%.

EBHO secures the necessary council votes to increase the tax increment allocation to 25%. Enacted in 2001, this increase yielded over six million dollars per year in additional funding for affordable housing activities.

2000–2004: Housing Element Advocacy Campaigns

EBHO rallies to use the Housing Element update process as an opportunity for education and advocacy throughout the East Bay. Providing technical assistance, analysis and advocacy tools, EBHO leads efforts to translate progressive housing policies into real increases in affordable housing resources. In Fremont, for example, EBHO’s campaign leads to the removal of barriers to multi-family affordable housing development.

2003–present: Interfaith Organizing

In 2003, EBHO initiates a program to deepen the engagement of the faith community in EBHO’s advocacy campaigns. EBHO also begins a multi-year collaboration with the Oakland Diocese and other religious institutions to explore affordable housing development opportunities on religious properties. In 2004, EBHO hires its Interfaith Director. In 2005, EBHO holds its first annual gathering of East Bay interfaith leaders.

2004–present: Community Benefits Campaigns

Since the beginning of the housing boom and through the economic collapse of 2008-2009, EBHO has worked with allies on community campaigns to include affordable housing in major developments and to advance inclusionary housing policies.

2006–2008: Oakland Policy Campaigns

In Oakland, EBHO members join Mayor Dellums’ Housing Task Force and the City Council’s Blue Ribbon Commission. In 2007, EBHO and its coalition partners kick off the Oakland People’s Housing Coalition (OPHC), a group which campaigns for inclusionary zoning, rental housing protections and increased housing resources and helps shape the Mayor’s housing policy proposals.

2006–present: Concord Naval Weapons Station (CNWS) Campaign

EBHO kicks off its Concord campaign for sustainable equitable development and spearheads the Community Coalition for a Sustainable Concord (CCSC) in early 2007.

2009–present: Oakland Resident Organizing Program

EBHO launches its new resident organizing program in Oakland to develop affordable housing residents as leaders and advocates.

2009: 25th Anniversary! 

EBHO celebrates 25 years of advocating for more affordable, inclusive communities at the local and regional level.

2010-2012: Expanding Our Regional Impact

Following a California Supreme Court case Urban Habitat v. City of Pleasanton,  EBHO works with community partners to ensure that Pleasanton meets its statewide requirements to provide housing for people at all levels, and thus take on its share of regional growth.  

2010-present: Growing Regional Power with "6 Wins"

EBHO engages in the “6 Wins” coalition, a group of social justice organizations committed to ensuring that the Bay Area creates a strong Sustainable Communities Strategy that includes affordable housing, equitable land use, and protects against displacement.

2011:  Organizing to Save Redevelopment

EBHO plays a lead role in mobilizing Bay Area advocates and affordable housing residents to save affordable housing funds threatened by the loss of redevelopment.

2011: Foreclosures & Affordable Housing

EBHO begins a Foreclosures & Affordable Housing working group in which members discuss solutions to the foreclosure crisis and how to integrate this work with the ongoing crisis in rental and very-low-income housing.

2012:  Post-Redevelopment Advocacy For Permanent Funding Sources

Redevelopment agencies are eliminated in California, and with them, $1 billion of funding for affordable housing.  EBHO works with local jurisdictions to find solutions, and engages in statewide advocacy to push for a “permanent source” of funding for housing.

2012: Concord Campaign

Huge victory in the Concord campaign, as the City Council approves a visionary plan for the Naval Weapons station including 25% affordable housing.

2012: Oakland Resident Organizing Program

EBHO grows its Resident Organizing Program into East Oakland and launches its Resident Organizing Institute to train leaders regionally.

2013: Wins for "Boomerang" (Former Redevelopment) Funding in Fremont, Emeryville, and Oakland

EBHO's newly formed East Bay Regional Policy Committee digs deep into advocacy on "boomerang" campaigns that sought to set aside a portion of the former redevelopment dollars for affordable homes. Through advocacy and mobilization of allies in Fremont and Emeryville, EBHO is able to win  20% set-aside commitment of boomerang funds for affordable housing in both Fremont and Emeryville.

Later on in the year, through the power of civic participation, support of our member base, and community organizing in Oakland, EBHO successfully wins a budget that included $1.8 million for affordable homes - enough to secure core programs for FY2013-2015. One month later, Oakland City Council unanimously passes a policy proposal introduced by Councilmember Dan Kalb that set aside 25% of all future one-time "boomerang" (former redevelopment) funds and 25% of all ongoing boomerang funds starting in FY2015-2016 to affordable homes. 

2014: EBHO Turns 30!

EBHO celebrates 30 years of advocacy for the preservation, expansion and protection of affordable homes at the local, regional, and statewide level. 

2014: EBHO Lifts Up Oakland's Neighborhoods Through Specific Plans 

EBHO's members advocate for affordable housing and equitable development policies for four specific plans in Oakland that could shape the Broadway Valdez, West Oakland, Lake Merritt/Chinatown and Coliseum City neighborhoods for years to come.

As a part of the Better Broadway Coalition, which EBHO co-leads with Greenbelt Alliance and 10 other organizations, EBHO helps to move the Broadway Valdez District Specific Plan from a plan focused on big-box retail to a balanced vision for an equitable community. The final plan passes in July 2014 included a target for 15% affordable housing, a feasible parking policy, commitments to quality jobs, pedestrian improvements, and neighborhood-serving retail.  It also reflected the voices of 600 seniors living in affordable homes nearby, several of whom become EBHO leaders.  

EBHO also wins a commitment for a nexus study to set the stage for a citywide development impact fee for affordable housing. This language and anti-displacement goals influences the West Oakland Specific Plan, where EBHO mobilized our resident leaders, and the Lake Merritt Plan, where we stood in support of the Chinatown Coalition. 

That same year, EBHO begins advocacy on specific plans for affordable housing policies and anti-displacement protections in Walnut Creek on their West Downtown plan and in Fremont on their Warm Springs Specific Plan, both of which carry over into 2015. 

2014: EBHO Launches Oakland Community Investment Areas (OCIA) to Win an Impact Fee and a Shared Prosperity Agenda

Supported by the Ford Foundation and MTC, EBHO staff and resident leaders work with ACCE, TransForm, Public Advocates and EBASE to win community benefits policies across all of Oakland’s major development areas – which are called Community Investment Areas - and which determines policy priorities in affordable housing, anti-displacement, transit, jobs and community health. The first major OCIA goal is to win an impact fee to support affordable homes, transportation, and other improvements as new residential development creates greater housing and infrastructure needs. Through the advocacy efforts of EBHO members and OCIA allies, EBHO wins the approval of a nexus study for an citywide impact fee, and continues to urge the city that Oakland cannot wait any longer to pass this fee and begin generating funding for affordable homes.