(Sacramento) – Today, Assemblymember Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens) introduced Assembly Bill (AB) 1778, which would prohibit the State of California from funding or permitting transportation projects of freeway expansions/widening in Environmental Justice Communities adversely affected by vehicle emissions and/or in areas with a higher rate of population below the poverty line. Specifically, the bill would block the state from funding or issuing permits to freeway projects that would increase traffic in low-income communities and displace vulnerable communities from their homes. AB 1778 would make it so that neither state money, personnel hours, nor permits are allocated to such construction projects.
More than 200,000 people have lost their homes nationwide to federal road projects over the last three decades, according to a Los Angeles Times[i] analysis of federal transportation data. The actual total is higher because many states fail to report how many homes are taken annually. In large projects in California and 4 other states the families that lost their homes were disproportionately residents in Black and Latino neighborhoods.
Unlike decades ago, those who are displaced today are compensated for the value of their home if they are homeowners and renters are compensated for moving expenses and the difference in rent for 42 months[i]. However, expecting any amount of money to make up for the displacement of families especially during California’s housing crisis is unacceptable. Specifically the displacement of vulnerable communities in the middle of a housing crisis when housing near freeways is often the most affordable to own or rent is backwards to our state housing goals and targets already vulnerable communities by adding to their housing insecurity.
“If we are truly going to govern with equity lenses we must stop the seizure of family homes in poor brown and Black communities and acknowledge that the freeway system since the 1950’s has been used as a tool to further disenfranchise low income communities and communities of color like mine,” stated Assemblymember Garcia.
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