Cassandra James appointed Housing and Community Development Commissioner of Vallejo – Times-Herald

As far as Cassandra James can remember, she wanted to help the community in her home. After doing so in San Francisco for over a decade, she now wants to lead the city of Vallejo as well.

On Thursday, Vallejo officially appoints James as director of housing and community. She is Tara Beasley-Standsberry, Jared Bande, Ironda Callaway, S. Leading a seven member committee made up of Brejackson, Christina Long, Antoninishawadel and herself. ..

“I’m excited, but a little nervous when I start a new job,” James said. “But I’m excited because I know I’m coming to this job with a wealth of knowledge. How to understand what is happening at Valeo and propose solutions there.

Her wealth of housing knowledge is powerful for James’ family, as her grandmother is one of the “Big Five in Bayview” and Julia Commer, recognized as a community leader who fought by the San Francisco Chronicle in 1978. .. Transform a 134- one hectare slum into a new environment for sparkling garden houses and schools.

“It’s been ingrained in me since I was little, growing up in Bayview and Hunter’s Point in San Francisco,” said James. “Listening to my adult great-grandmother, I have always been involved in the search for a community. She never gave me any concrete advice, but instead I learned by always appearing like your best self. In any tragedy, there is always another side of the table. “

Early in his life in San Francisco, he was asked to lead a youth committee.

“By working with the town hall as well as with members of the community, we can see the change happening,” said James.

James eventually went to Dillard University, Louisiana, and after that Katrina became even more motivated to help the homeless. She has worked in San Francisco for over 10 years and was recently promoted to Senior Community Development Specialist. In her work, she oversees grants to service providers who work with the community in affordable housing.

Vallejo has been studying housing issues for some time. Of the more than 400 households that Face Food Fridays serves each week, owner Mary Ambags estimates that at least 25 percent are homeless.

The standby navigation center should have been the answer to at least part of the homeless population. However, cost estimates fell from $ 4 million to $ 8 million.

At a town hall meeting last Tuesday, Vallejo Mayor Robert McCornell responded to the concerns of the homeless by saying, “This is a complex problem, not a universal problem.

“It will take a lot of dedication, creative thinking and breaking down stereotypes of typical thinking and accepting what you might not want,” McConnell said. “It’s a big challenge across the United States, especially here in California and the Bay Area. If you look at the guidelines, we have families earning between 85 and 100,000 people a year to qualify for affordable housing. Tonight we saw affordable homes in the $ 460,000 per unit area. To be honest, as a society, we can never help people at $ 460,000 each. Others We need to find a more creative way. “

James has some ideas on how to solve Vallejo’s housing issues.

“It’s not just Vallejo, but Solano County. It is essentially the last affordable county to live in the Bay Area, ”James said. “What we want to do is prevent people from leaving. To do this, we need to make housing more affordable. But what does it look like? Affordable in the county? What does your house look like? You need to partner with other Bay Area housing organizations such as Mercy Housing, Eden Housing, and Bridge Housing. “

Eden Housing is currently working on the Sacramento Street Apartment project and James likes what he has seen so far.

“I’m not catching up with everything that is underway on this project, but it’s good that Eden Housing is getting involved because one of their core values ​​is to get involved and to work in good faith . And because it shows that we are working on fairness and racial justice. Thanks to them, we are convinced that the project is moving in the right direction. “

James grew up doing something similar in San Francisco, which has a program to finance homeowners.

“In particular, the black and brown homeowners that we owe them money are doing ongoing repairs to their buildings and gardens to add value to the neighborhood,” James said. .. “We often talk about the gap between game beautification and wealth, but we have to pay attention to specific areas and beautify our homes.

“Overall, there are never enough homes,” continued James. But in Vallejo, if you’re not catching the growth of the non-residential community right now, you’ll have to follow the trends because it will cost you dearly down the road. We need to deal with it now and stay one step ahead. “

James also works in San Francisco, but has lived in Vallejo for a few years.

“It’s one of the things that excites me the most about this new position at Vallejo. I will join them and focus on improving the community in which they live and ensuring their prosperity. I can. It’s great that I currently live in Crest, that I live in this community and that I have a bridge to make a difference. I like being able to give access to the community. And that’s all. I’m excited. “

Rich Freedman, Times-Herald writer, contributed to this report.

Cassandra James appointed Housing and Community Development Commissioner of Vallejo – Times-Herald Cassandra James appointed Housing and Community Development Commissioner of Vallejo – Times-Herald

Norma P. Rex

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