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Opinion: From travel and dirty air to health and hope

A little-known government program is doing wonderful things in areas that have gone through too many decades of red lines, environmental racism, and investment rejection. We know because we do it here in Oakland.

East Auckland is a vibrant, culturally rich community with young people and a close-knit family. Since the 1930s, these areas have experienced an influx of black residents after World War II and are now home to large numbers of Hispanics. As with other Gulf communities, the area has skyrocketed housing prices and alarming evictions of black and brown residents.

East Auckland is also one of America’s most environmentally deprived areas. The homes sit side by side with heavily polluting industrial sites, trucks going to and from the Auckland port, and even more trucks spewing diesel fumes as they travel along I-880. The area desperately lacks access to parks, green spaces and clean transportation. The expected results are one of the dirtiest in America and the highest rate of respiratory disease.

California recognized several years ago that communities like East Oakland are at the forefront of climate change. This is why the Greenlining Institute worked with our partners and communities to develop a model to enable these communities to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, making their neighborhoods healthier and more prosperous. This is called transforming climate communities or TCCs.

Unlike the top-down structure of most government programs, TCC empowers the communities most affected by poverty and pollution to define their own goals and solutions – with funding to both develop these plans and implement them. This community guidance built into the TCC framework is critical. It is a human program, made by humans.

East Auckland residents have developed a plan, which they called Better Neighborhoods, Same Neighbors, to create a healthier neighborhood and curb displacement. It identifies five priorities: green spaces and a healthy environment, housing as a human right, safe and affordable transportation, the growth of community well-being, and arts and culture.

The $ 28.2 million TCC grant was used to leverage other funding (a key part of the TCC formula) to launch five projects that will combine climate strategies with affordable housing, public health, active transportation, workforce development, food system resilience and green space projects:

Two thousand street trees will reduce the urban heat island effect. In the San Leandro Creek Urban Greenway, a 1.2-mile trail will provide access to green space as well as a safe route to access key community facilities including schools, neighborhoods, and regional parks, as well as Food Hub Planting Justice, which supplies food to the park’s residents. Collect.

Funding from the TCC project launched a bicycle sharing program that not only empowers green transportation in East Auckland, but also educates young people to repair bicycles and gives them good jobs. Also in development are 54 units of 100% affordable solar-powered housing with many improved vehicles nearby, as well as an urban aquaponic farm to address the community’s food desert problem. It will create 27 payroll jobs and provide youth education, health / wellness, community development, and business incubation programs.

When Greenlining recently studied the impact of TCC, we found incredible results and see this as a model that should be scaled up nationally. Unfortunately, funding for the TCC here in California has not been stable or adequate, and this issue is finally being addressed by the governor and the legislature.

California has created a model for how climate programs can help build stronger, healthier communities. We need to make sure TCC has the resources to make life better in every way.

Khariya Shabazz – Deputy Executive Director of the Corporation for the Development of Highlands. Alvaro Sánchez is Vice President of Policy at the Green Line Institute, which recently published Fighting the Red Line and Climate Change with Transforming Climate Communities. Both organizations are based in Auckland.

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