Dec. 2016 Advocate: The fight for tenant protections continues in San Mateo


The fight for tenant protections continues in San Mateo

By Noelia Corzo, Community Organizer, Faith In Action Bay Area

It took a lot of people, effort, and passion for the tenant protection grassroots movement in San Mateo to get to where we are now. It’s been a long road filled with uncertainty. It’s not easy to attempt to accomplish something that’s never been done in San Mateo before. There’s been a lot of trial and error and though there have been continuous obstacles no one can ever take away the small accomplishments and lessons learned that the community fighting for change have obtained.

I knew that Election Day was coming and it was very important to me that Faith in Action Bay Area celebrate all of the hard work that Measure Q volunteers had put into fighting for tenant protections. I felt that people should be together when we learned what the outcome of Measure Q was. We had the party at a local salsa club. We had food, music, and a craft table for folks to make each other paper plate awards. We celebrated together and people of all walks of life danced and celebrated together. I knew that, no matter what happened that night, our amazing, diverse group of volunteers would not give up, and I was right.


[Photo above: San Mateo Adult School rally for local tenant protections]

Earlier on in the night before we knew what the results were, Deputy Mayor of San Mateo, David Lim, gave a very moving and honest speech. He talked about feeling as if he had not done enough for renters in San Mateo and that he was committed to standing with the residents of San Mateo who have been underrepresented. We weren’t yet sure of the results but, looking back, I recognize that he already had a sense of what the fate of Measure Q would be. David’s speech brought tears to my eyes and his words resonated very deeply with me. I too felt as if I hadn’t done enough and that I also committed myself to fighting for this cause until we have tangible change.

I was mentally prepared for either result regarding Measure Q. I knew that win or lose there was still more work to be done to advocate for our most disenfranchised communities. I had prepared our volunteers for either outcome. I was also was very confident that Measure Q would pass. I never expected that Q would not pass and that the presidential election would turn out how it did. I was very much in denial the night of November 8th. I didn’t want to accept reality that night. It was too hard.

The next day I felt the pain and the weight of the reality. Measure Q not passing meant that families who’ve received evictions will have to move away. Four families that live in a 5-unit building in North Central San Mateo yesonq-andreaguzmangrandmother-webwill have to decide what to do about their eviction that has a date of December 26th, 2016. Those families do not have protections and neither will all of the families who continue to face the consequences of this housing crisis we’re in. This struggle is not over. We will continue to fight for those families. Families with children and young adults. Families who make this city thrive. [Photo left: Andrea Guzman and her grandmother both face a December 26, 2016 eviction]

We will fight smarter moving forward. Our volunteer group has already had two meetings post-election and we’ve developed three working groups to focus on strategy moving forward. We are continuing to build power in San Mateo and will continue to support as many families as we can through the hardships they face. Three things are very clear now; we need to get more people involved, we need to be more strategic and learn from our mistakes, and we must remain united and committed to each other and this cause.

November 8th, 2016 was an unforgettable night for our country. Even more so for San Mateo tenant protections advocates who were devastated by the loss of Measure Q as well as shaken to their core by the presidential election results. The results of election night have caused people very real grief, the type of grief that paralyzes people and makes them question everything. That night our core volunteers walked away from each other with heavy hearts. There is no doubt about that. That’s not all they walked away with though. We all walked away from each other knowing that we’re not in this alone and that we will continue to take a stand together, come what may.