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Economic Justice Committee Report Back: Schools & Communities First Ballot & Tiny House Village

Kehilla’s Economic Justice Committee has focused on criminal justice and affordable housing issues throughout the past year, while closely watching the progress of a ballot measure to reform California property taxes on large businesses.  After important revisions to this measure, now known as “Schools & Communities First,” Kehilla has joined a broad coalition to endorse the revised initiative and gather signatures to place it on the ballot.  Key goals of this measure:

  • Reclaim $12 billion per year for K-12 schools, community colleges and local communities
  • Close commercial property tax loopholes that corporations and wealthy investors use to avoid paying their fair share of property taxes
  • Protect all homeowners and renters by maintaining tax protections for ALL residential property and agricultural land
  • Protect small businesses with an exemption for properties valued at less than $3 million and a five-year delay for reassessment of other small business properties.
  • Ensure strict accountability so that money goes directly to our schools and communities

Students in San Jose march in support of Schools and Communities First on November 9th, 2019

(Anda Chu/Bay Area News Group).

The need for this measure dates back to 1978 and the passage of Proposition 13, which made no distinction between commercial and residential property when setting property tax limits.  “Schools & Communities First” is endorsed by PICO California, Bend the Arc, and many other faith-based organizations, as well as the California Federation of Teachers and numerous other labor groups.  The local PICO affiliate, Faith In Action – East Bay (previously Oakland Community Organizations) has set a goal of collecting 4000 signatures by March 1st.  Surely, Kehilla could gather 400 signatures by January 1st?  Any registered voter can help circulate petitions.  Contact Sue Goldberg for petitions and instructions: (510) 660-5125 or

More information:

Solving the problem of homelessness for East Bay youth takes a really big team, like the one organized by Youth Spirit Artworks and their many community partners.  Their vision is a secure community of 26 Tiny Houses with:

  • Murphy beds
  • windows
  • skylight
  • storage
  • electricity
  • furnishings
  • heated floors

This community will have:

  • On-site, clean communal bathrooms and showers
  • A kitchen yurt for residents to cook weekly communal meals and securely store their own food
  • Many onsite services (job training, social services, etc.)

Kehilla build leaders Nikee Borden and Sam Gast have guided a dozen Kehilla volunteers who participated in the construction of a dozen Tiny Houses over the past three months.  Over 800 community members have joined in this effort so far, and 14 Tiny Houses have been completed.  Many thanks to everyone who pitched in!

Kehilla Build Leader Nikee Borden at work

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