Climate-Informed Anti-Displacement Initiatives in California: Transformative Climate Communities
The Greenlining Institute (GLI) is a nonprofit organization founded to advance economic opportunity and community empowerment through policy, research, organizing, and leadership throughout California. The Environmental Equity team works to address climate change, pollution, and poverty while ensuring that any investments or adjustments made as a result of their projects take into consideration community input in decision making and anti-displacement strategies. GLI and the California Environmental Justice Alliance (CEJA) co-sponsored Assembly Bill 2722, which created the Transformative Climate Communities (TCC) program.
GLI, while headquartered in Oakland, is involved in projects all over the state of California. The major climate change impacts that threaten California and drive some of the work of GLI include fire, sea level rise, extreme heat, and flooding. Threats to public health and healthcare services, loss of infrastructure, and community displacement are all potential impacts caused by such concerns. Existing vulnerabilities (e.g., low-income households, homelessness, racial and ethnic minorities) may be exacerbated by climate change impacts in the region.
GLI’s policy work focuses on five areas of equity—health, economics, energy, environment, and technology. GLI’s Environmental Equity team works to address pollution and poverty while ensuring that any investments or adjustments made as a result of their projects take into consideration community input in decision making and anti-displacement strategies.
The TCC Program was developed as a place-based approach to allow the state to make significant, targeted investments that meet multiple needs of burdened communities. It also empowers communities to tackle climate change and equity challenges at a neighborhood scale. Within TCC, funded communities propose solutions to address each neighborhood’s specific needs and assets (e.g., addressing climate mitigation through greenhouse gas reduction goals). TCC includes Planning Grants, which fund planning activities to prepare communities for future funding opportunities that align with TCC’s objectives, and Implementation Grants, which fund neighborhood-level projects.
In 2016, GLI and the California Environmental Justice Alliance (CEJA) co-sponsored Assembly Bill 2722, which created the TCC program. TCC is funded out of the California Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund and is administered by the California Strategic Growth Council. Overall, the TCC program funds projects that create catalytic multi-sector goals to address community needs at the local scale.
TCC is unique in that it not only contains application requirements for climate adaptation and mitigation, but also requires that applicants complete a Displacement Avoidance Plan. Each plan must contain: (1) a description of the residential and small business displacement vulnerabilities a project addresses as well as what vulnerability looks like in the neighborhood or community where the project is taking place; (2) policies or ordinances that are already in place to prevent displacement in the specified community; and (3) the identification of new policies ranging from housing preservation to tenant protection and business support that could prevent the displacement of low-income households and local businesses.
The first round of TCC grantees—City of Fresno, TransformFresno; City of Ontario, Ontario Together; Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles, Watts Rising Collaborative—have recently entered into the implementation stage (year three) of the five-year program. For example, Ontario Together was awarded $35 million for the Vista Verde affordable housing development, construction of a five-mile bicycle/pedestrian trail, improved public bus service, an expanded urban forest, low-income housing weatherization including solar installations, health education campaigns, and workforce development. To date, the Vista Verde Apartments are under construction and progress has been made on the trails, bus service improvements, and the establishment of a San Bernardino County Workforce Development office.
The second round of grantees include the Community Partners’ Green Together initiative and the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency’s Integrated Multimodal Place-based Living project. The strategic plan of Green Together incorporates urban greening, mobility enhancement projects, and displacement avoidance policies in Pacoima, a neighborhood in the San Fernando Valley. The guidelines for round three of the TCC program were released in October 2019. Round three includes $56,400,000 for two Implementation Grant awards and $600,000 for three Planning Grant awards.
Outcomes and Conclusions
TCC represents a first step in requiring climate mitigation and adaptation projects to address the displacement of existing residents and small businesses. There are challenges to this, however, including unintentional trickle-down effects of projects that increase green spaces while simultaneously increasing surrounding property values and causing the displacement of lower-income residents. Current best practices for these types of projects are those that are accompanied by affordable housing development, job creation, workforce development, and small business support and protection. In order to address the challenges of climate-related anti-displacement initiatives, communities, community leaders, and practitioners need to be thinking in a multi-issue, holistic, and collaborative way that includes the perspectives, issues, and concerns of community sectors and stakeholders.
There are not current quantitative data to measure the effectiveness of the TCC program and its displacement requirements. However, through narrative accounts, the policy does seem to be groundbreaking in the multi-sector integration of climate change and displacement issues. The UCLA Luskin Center has been contracted to do the evaluation and monitoring of the TCC-funded projects. The Center is tracking the projects throughout their five-year lifecycle as well as final evaluations for each project. The Center will release interim reports as well as a final survey for applicants at the end of the five-year funding period.
Braddock KN and Wang E. 2020. Climate-Informed Anti-Displacement Initiatives in California: The Greenlining Institute. [Case study on a project of The Greenlining Institute]. Product of EcoAdapt’s State of Adaptation Program. Retrieved from CAKE: https://www.cakex.org/case-studies/climate-informed-anti-displacement-initiatives-california-transformative-climate-communities (Last updated April 2020)
Environmental Equity Senior Policy Manager