Urban Habitat

Urban Habitat builds power in low-income communities and communities of color by combining education, advocacy, research and coalition building to advance environmental, economic and social justice in the Bay Area.

We envision a society where all people live in economically and environmentally healthy neighborhoods. Clean air, land and water are recognized as fundamental human rights. Meaningful employment honors a worker’s right to dignity and a living wage with benefits. Effective public transportation and land-use planning connect people to the resources, opportunities and services to thrive. Affordable housing provides a healthy and safe home for all. And quality education prepares visionary leaders to strengthen our democracy with new ideas, energy and commitment.

We envision community leaders mobilizing an inspired, well-informed, and politically engaged constituency who hold decision-makers accountable to the principles of economic, environmental and social justice. In this society, equality, sustainability and diversity are the core values that guide public policy, creating a vibrant environment for this and future generations.

Urban Habitat works in four key areas:

Policy and Advocacy:
Within the area of policy and advocacy, UH focuses primarily on transportation and housing, environmental health, and equitable development issues. Our long-term goal is to ensure that local, regional, state and national policies support principles of social, economic and environmental justice. To achieve this goal, we work with our community partners to hold elected officials and other decision-makers accountable to the needs of the Bay Area’s low-income communities and communities of color.

Capacity Building and Technical Assistance:
Since 1998, Urban Habitat’s Leadership Institute has trained community organizations, labor, faith-based organizations, and youth on issues related to transportation, housing, economic development, and environmental health. The overall goal of the Leadership Institute is to increase the capacity of organizations to move a political agenda for social equity in the region. We customize our trainings to meet the specific needs of our partners and their campaigns. Each Leadership Institute employs interactive popular education techniques to engage the participants in a strategic examination of the political, economic, and social forces that shape the region. To date, more than 300 leaders spanning the entire Bay Area have participated in Urban Habitat’s Leadership Institute.

Reframing the Debate:
Urban Habitat recognizes that social and environmental justice organizations must provide more than a critique of what is broken and inequitable in today’s society. We must turn our vision of social justice into concrete solutions. Through our national biannual publication, Race, Poverty, and the Environment we offer cutting edge analysis, best practices, and alternative frameworks for addressing community development and environmental justice issues. Leading thinkers and organizers contribute to our journal to showcase exciting work taking place throughout the country.

Regional coalition building:
Urban Habitat works with a wide range of partners because we understand that no single organization can succeed on its own. UH works within several coalitions and continues to build alliances with non-traditional partners such as environmentalists, business and government to share strategies and build power in the region. We also convene the Social Equity Caucus (SEC), the Bay Area’s only body dedicated to promoting a regional vision for social justice. SEC members represent economic, social, and environmental justice community-based groups, as well as labor, public health, advocacy, faith, and youth organizations. By connecting local issues and priorities to a broader regional equity agenda, the SEC works in strategic partnerships to build power within the Bay Area’s low-income communities and communities of color.


Articles by Urban Habitat