Santa Fe’s high cost of living is forcing more and more people to move farther away from the city’s center to areas that lack necessary amenities such as jobs, green spaces, access to healthy food, public transportation, and sometimes basic infrastructure. This can lock people into automobile dependence, exacerbating a cycle of poverty and environmental damage. At the same time, many central neighborhoods that are still affordable are at risk of gentrification. Critical neighborhood investments and efforts to bring desperately needed resources to these areas can sometimes drive up housing costs and lead to the displacement of current residents. These dynamics disproportionately affect People of Color.
When viewed collectively, the result is a growth pattern of a city that is increasing segregated by race and class. These trends leave many residents of low-income neighborhoods feeling as though they must decide between disinvestment and gentrification. This is an equity crisis for Santa Fe.
But this is not inevitable. Development without displacement is not only possible, but necessary. Mindful local policies can help neighborhoods develop in ways that support current residents and help them thrive in their own homes.
Chainbreaker has been working for the last 13 years to amplify the voices of the people directly impacted by these issues to find creative solutions. Through grassroots outreach, we have hosted dozens of community meetings, collected hundreds of written testimonials, gathered thousands of signatures of support and had countless conversations with people living this crisis. We have collaborated with local, regional and national partners who have been working on the front-lines for housing, environmental and equity justice.
This policy guide is the result of all that work and collaboration and represents policy solutions for the most urgent needs of Santa Fe’s most vulnerable residents for 2017. It has been endorsed by over a dozen local service provider, civil rights, environmental and labor organizations. It builds upon the values and commitments made by the governing body a year and a half ago under the Resident’s Bill of Rights Resolution. Some of the policy recommendations can be acted upon immediately, while others may require a slower process to advance. However, we believe that all recommendations should be taken into serious consideration by policy makers to begin to address our city’s housing and equity crises this year.
This policy guide is just the beginning. The problem is too vast and complicated to fully address with 10 simple actions in a single year. However, with the help of this guide we can make 2017 the year where Santa Fe turned the tide away from segregation and inequity toward development without displacement.
Chainbreaker is enthusiastic to help bridge the gap between community members and policy makers to start this work in 2017 and committed to the movement for a more equitable Santa Fe for the long haul.
- Rental Assistance Support. Emergency rental assistance support can intervene in the cycle of homelessness before it starts. The governing body should fully fund rental assistance support programs with a minimum of $100,000 from the general fund.
- Know-Your-Rights Hotline. Free and reliable access to basic information about housing, civil rights and tenants rights is a critical first step toward ensuring people remain in safe and affordable housing, free from harassment and discrimination. The governing body should reinstate funding for a housing know-your-rights information hotline that is free for Santa Fe tenants.
- Language Equity. Santa Fe is a multilingual city. Monolingual Spanish speakers are often treated unjustly and discriminated against by being denied access to services and information in a language they understand. The governing body should fully fund professional translation and interpretations services for essential communications between city government and Santa Feans to ensure a fully functioning city government.
- Santa Fe Trails. Car-dependency contributes to climate change and can perpetuate a cycle of poverty. Santa Fe Trails bus system is a cornerstone for many Santa Feans, helping people break their dependence on cars. The governing body should:
- Ensure that 100% of the revenue from the 1991 Gross Receipts Tax for transit go to Santa Fe Trails
- Actively pursue a new dedicated, ongoing revenue source to fully fund Santa Fe Trails’ capital needs
5. Actively Enforce Santa Fe’s Fair Housing and Living Wage Laws. Housing affordability is directly tied to a living wage. Santa Fe’s Living Wage and Fair Housing laws are designed to help ensure that people who work in Santa Fe can live here free from harassment and discrimination. The governing body should fund additional resources for city staff to investigate and enforce Santa Fe’s Fair Housing and Living Wage laws.
6. SWAN Park Phase 2. Parks and green spaces are essential for a truly sustainable, vibrant and healthy community. Santa Fe’s Airport Road Corridor is one of the fastest growing areas where a large portion of Santa Fe’s young people live, but disproportionately lacks investments like parks. Completion of the SWAN park will be an important step toward addressing this problem and increasing equity for the city. Therefore, the governing body should actively pursue and fully fund construction for phase 2 of the SWAN Park.
7. Ban the Box. Often times people re-entering society after serving time are dismissed outright because of their past. This can lead to increases in crime, recidivism and homelessness. The governing body should explore possibilities of removing barriers to housing and employment for formerly incarcerated individuals in Santa Fe.
8. New Measures of Affordability. Official measures that define “affordability” in housing often times do not translate to truly affordable housing for low-income people. The governing body should actively study and pursue new ways to measure affordability in Santa Fe to make it truly affordable for low-income Santa Feans.
9. Justice for City Employees. City workers are the backbone of Santa Fe’s infrastructure and services and should be able to live in the city in which they work with confidence and stability. To help facilitate this, the governing body should:
- Move “Permanent Temporary” workers into Full Time positions with benefits and prioritize hiring Full Time Employees in the future
- Make compensation packages competitive so we don’t loose our best workers to competing employers
10. Budget Prosperity Not Austerity. Santa Fe’s dependence on Gross Receipts Tax (GRT) is regressive, unreliable, limiting and inequitable. This dependence has led to painful cuts, instability and lack of investment in low-income neighborhoods and neighborhoods of Color. It is a significant contributor to Santa Fe’s equity crisis. To begin the process of shifting Santa Fe’s dependence on GRT, the governing body should:
- Create a 5 year strategic plan to shift Santa Fe’s dependence on GRT toward reliable progressive revenue sources that prioritize the needs of low-income Santa Feans
- Create a Public Bank to democratize our local economy
- Create an energy conservation division within the Public Utility Department to support environmentally sustainable options for low-income Santa Feans
- Support the proposal to fund Pre-K in Santa Fe through the sugar-sweetened beverage excise tax
- Ensure that benefits from any regressive tax prioritize the needs of low-income Santa Feans