On February 22 & 23, 2018 UCSB Arts & Lectures hosted sociologist Matthew
Desmond, the recipient of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Nonfiction. His public
presentation on February 22 focused and expanded on his influential book
Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City.
As part of A&L’s Thematic Learning Initiative a working session the following
morning with Matthew Desmond was arranged for community leaders,
developers and housing advocates involved in addressing housing needs, growth
and community sustainability and affordable housing participated in a productive
and engaging conversation moderated by Alice O’Connor, the director of the
UCSB Blum Center for Global Poverty Alleviation & Sustainable Development. The
session was held at the administrative office of The Fund for Santa Barbara.
Participants included 25 key representatives from the Annual SB Housing
Conference, CAUSE: Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy, C3H:
Central Coast Collaborative on Homelessness, Coastal Housing Coalition, Families
Act!, Grace Housing/Village, Home for Good SB County, Housing Authority of the
City of SB, Housing Trust of SB County, League of Women Voters SB, PATH SB:
People Assisting the Homeless, People Helping People, People’s Self Help Housing,
Transition House, and the Towbes Group. Specific topics were culled from
invitees, converted to talking prompts and distributed in advance to attendees.
These included Experiences and Challenges unique to Santa Barbara,
Development, Social Consequences, Eviction, Severe Deprivation & Poverty,
Policy and Community Organizing.
Desmond’s genuine engagement with the group motivated participants to discuss
opportunities for subsequent meetings to further explore the issues raised in the
session. There was a consensus that people in the housing community need more
opportunities to come together, including with constituents not in the room such
as tenants’ rights groups, elected officials and members of underserved
communities. Despite significant challenges, made more difficult by the current
administration including federal housing aid cuts, there was overall agreement
that now is a unique moment of opportunity for addressing affordable housing