Sacramento Valley Union Labor Bulletin

Owned and Published by the Sacramento Central Labor Council and the Sacramento-Sierra’s Building & Construction Trades Council, official councils of the AFL-CIO


Labor Council tackles housing and homelessness

By Sheri Williams

The Sacramento Central Labor Council is taking on the critical issues of housing and homelessness in the Sacramento region.

Working with partners and allies, members of the Council, union members, politicians and allies met in August to discuss the critical issues and workshop how Labor can fight for equity and change in the Sacramento region.

“These are union issues,” said Fabrizio Sasso, head of the Sacramento Central Labor Council. “We have members living in cars and on the street, people who are working full time but can’t make ends meet. We as union members need to be part of the solutions, because we are directly affected by a lack of affordable and fair housing.”

Sacramento City Councilwomen Caity Maple and Katie Valenzuela were also in attendance.

“We’ve been relying on the private sector developers and businesses to say, ‘we’re going to build housing,’ and that hasn’t worked because all they’ve built is really expensive, market rate housing that if you are low income, you can’t afford,” said Valenzuela. “The need is great. We have more people than ever that need (housing), and we don’t have enough supply.”

The SCLC is holding a series of meetings to create a coordinated plan on the dual issues that includes stakeholders from across the spectrum.

Among the fundamentals that have been agreed upon are nine guiding principles on homelessness. These include the ideas that homelessness impacts everyone and that its root is found in income inequality.

Our current safety net is inadequate to protect against homelessness, which takes forms both visible and invisible. But housing is a human right and not a moral failing or a crime, the principles state. Unhoused people are a part of our community, and workers must have better training on how to address the issue.

On housing, the principles include an acknowledgement that current local housing policies have failed, leaving too many without affordable homes. It advocates that housing is a human right that should be protected by law for workers, and that housing should be prioritized for families, not for investors.

The housing principles also include that renters need protections, and that the state should invest in social housing to create options that developers are unlikely to pursue. Finally, the guidelines stipulate that construction should be a union job to protect workers, and that communities need a greater say in what kind of housing is available.

The Sacramento Central Labor Council will continue to hold working groups on the issues, to create a unified force in local policy.