Housing is a basic human right. I believe that every person should have access to safe and stable housing. We are in a housing crisis – not just here in Gainesville, but nationwide. Rents are rising faster than wages everywhere and this means that low-income individuals have to struggle for basic housing that meets minimum health standards. I believe that everyone should have housing that is accessible and affordable.
I have worked toward that goal with the Alachua County Labor Coalition by advocating for the Safe and Healthy Housing Campaign. Some of the elements of our initiative have already been met, such as changing the County’s human rights ordinance to protect veterans, survivors of domestic violence, all persons regardless of citizenship, and to ensure that residents can use all sources of income, like housing vouchers, when applying for housing. But we have a long way to go. As a commissioner, housing will be my priority.
Too often, I meet people who don’t think that they can make suggestions to the city or who think that city hall isn’t a place for them. I want to make sure that all voices are heard. That means more than just three minutes in citizen comment or having access to city emails. Making city hall accessible is bringing city hall outside and inviting people in. That means that other than having an open door policy to meet with city residents, I will actively participate in local activities and actively engage with our citizens.
As an attorney, I employed community lawyering, which has lawyers in the background of movements and change. While I might have many ideas about how to tackle a problem, the best solutions will come from people living with the problems. We can work together to find solutions that are effective and actually produce results. Everyone in this city deserves time and respect, and it should be up to the City to reach out and meet everyone. We shouldn’t wait until people walk into City Hall – government should reach out into the community as well.
We need to re-think the concept of public safety in order to incorporate everyone. Our families deserve to feel safe and able to access our community programs – from GPD to transportation to homeless services to fire rescue. No one should be afraid to use their own city services. As a city, we can help take care of the most vulnerable of our citizens by just helping them accessing the programs we already have.
Feeling safe should be more than crime prevention. Safety is making sure our housing codes require that rentals are not hazardous, assuring that our streets are accessible and safe for pedestrians, and making sure we are protecting our environment and our water from dangerous chemicals and pollution.
Reina Saco Campaign
PO Box 12941
Gainesville, FL 32604