Vanessa Marrero, a member of the Right to Housing Slate for Rent Board, is running for the Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board in the upcoming midterm elections.
As a longtime Berkeley resident who has seen the direct impacts of housing discrimination, Marrero is running on the platform of “housing as a human right.” She said she aims to increase accessible housing, create greener buildings and prioritize tenant voices.
“Throughout the span of my 20+ year career, I have witnessed children evicted from their homes, our long term tenants who are elderly living in apartments and harassed by landlords who seek to evict them,” Marrero said in an email.
Marrero’s experiences are why she wants to increase accessibility for disabled tenants and tenants who are being discriminated against because of their economic status and race. She pointed to the Rent Stabilization and Eviction for Good Cause Ordinance as key to “equity-centered policies and practices” for those most affected.
Certain communities, such as communities of color, educators and students, often find themselves barely able to afford Berkeley rent prices, according to Marrero.
“Affordable housing is a civil liberty that all … earn just enough to scrape by, often having to live with roommates or in their cars to afford to live in Berkeley,” Marrero said in the email.
Among her goals are the “collective liberation” of Black and Indigenous individuals, as well as other communities of color, and ensuring that affordable housing is a “civil liberty” for all.
Marrero said that without policies to enact real change for rent stabilization and protection, the words of the rent board mean little.
“By instituting policies around opportunity housing, we will serve the public focused on building healthier communities and economic integration across neighborhoods and through strong policies and investment,” Marrero said in the email.
With 23 years of public service under her belt, Marrero believes she is uniquely qualified for the board because of her “expansive and diverse set of experiences.”
Marrero’s endorsements include the California Democratic Renters Council, the Alameda County Democratic Party, the Berkeley Democratic Caucus, the National Association of Social Workers California Chapter and the National Women’s Political Caucus Silicon Valley, along with BUSD School Board director Ty Alper and planning commissioner Alfred Twu, among others.
Marrero added it is imperative that the board focuses on reliable ordinances.
“Now is a critical time to focus on ensuring a strong Rental Board Ordinances, Measure MM and rental Control properties so our educators, students, individual with exceptionalities, communities of color and the aged tenants, remain housed and can expend the energies teaching, learning and thriving in all the beauty that Berkeley has to offer,” Marrero said in the email.