VOTE BY MAIL BEGINNING OCTOBER 5TH
My own experience has inspired me to make housing affordability a key focus of my candidacy. Growing up, my mom and dad worked long hours in the fields, and shared crowded housing with other relatives to make ends meet. When I turned 11, the hard work and sacrifice paid off when my parents purchased their first home. Then, in the blink of an eye we lost our home during the Great Recession of 2008. On the brink of homelessness, our family of five moved into a small converted garage, and struggled to get by.
Looking back, these were some of the most formative years of my life. They taught me that it can be hard to focus on learning and school work when you have no place to study. The housing affordability crisis in Santa Maria is already affecting the future of Santa Maria because our children are the future. Today, I see too many of my neighbors working multiple jobs and still struggling to afford the rising cost of housing.
Our county has the third-largest percentage of homeless students in the entire state. 31% of the students of the Santa Maria-Bonita School District are defined as homeless, which means that they live in a shelter, or in a motel, or in a car or RV, or in transitional housing, or they are doubled up with another family in a temporary situation – like my family once was. Studies have now shown that the homelessness crisis in California is in fact being driven by rising housing costs. We must pursue bold and innovative solutions to solve this housing crisis, such as inclusionary housing requirements, tenant displacement assistance, restricting the use of short-term leases, and rent stabilization.
In the last five years in our county, rents have gone up 27%, while wages have only improved by 8%. So another way to make housing more affordable is by bringing more higher paying jobs to Santa Maria, and by supporting small business owners. This is why LIVING WAGE JOBS will be a key focus of my candidacy. As a professional who works for Goodwill Industries of VTA SB Counties as a Workforce Services Supervisor, I know the challenges that many of our residents face when seeking employment opportunities. In 2015, my organization received a federal grant to enroll 260 young adults from Santa Maria in a job readiness program. At the end of that year, we had successfully enrolled 280 individuals. What this demonstrates is the eagerness of our residents to work for their dreams and their need for living wage employment. It also demonstrates the need for job training. That’s why I support Community Work Force Agreements--also known as Project Labor Agreements. Such policies, which are already established in other California cities, can help to ensure quality job training, local jobs, and higher wages for Santa Marians. Our City Council should put such agreements into action.
As a city council member I would work to support our small businesses, who support our economy and create jobs. This district is a vibrant center for small Latino businesses, and I would like to ensure that our city’s chamber of commerce engages Spanish speaking business owners. I’d also like to work to streamline the process to obtain business licenses and permits, in particular for street vendors.
After I graduated from Pioneer Valley High School, I decided to pursue my educational dream by going to college. I graduated from California State University of Los Angeles with a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice. And after college, I decided to move back to Santa Maria while pursuing my Master’s degree in Public Administration. I was eager to work and give back to my community. Unfortunately, even though I was a recent college graduate, finding a good paying job was a challenge. So, I became an intern for the County of Santa Barbara, and that experience gave me the leadership training I needed to advance my career. We need more programs that support our youth leadership development. When we provide opportunities to our youth--through job training, or internships, or recreational programs, we invest in a future that is better for all Santa Marians, especially young Santa Marians.
Santa Maria is a city that I love, and my love has filled me with a desire to give back. I am committed to rolling up my sleeves and getting work done. I understand the challenges that residents in District 1 face on a daily basis. I am committed to improving the quality of life for all Santa Marians by working for affordable housing, living wage jobs, and opportunities for our youth. As I begin this journey, I look forward to fighting for families who are overlooked--like mine, like yours, LIKE OURS. Together, we can be heard! Together, we can secure a better future for all of us.
La unión hace la fuerza! Se puede? CLARO QUE SE PUEDE!
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