A game-changing affordable housing measure on the ballot this November is led by a Vietnamese-American and San Jose native, Betty Duong. If you are involved in community organizing in the San Francisco Bay Area at large, Betty Duong is a household name. An alumna of UC Davis Law, UC Berkeley, and De Anza College, Duong has strong roots in the community.
As the campaign manager for “Yes on A for Affordable Housing,” her role is to ensure a carefully crafted awareness campaign that will bring as much Measure A information as possible to Santa Clara County voters. Simply put, Measure A will generate $950 million of local funding and draw down $2 billion of State and Federal funding to construct affordable housing for very low income to moderately level income individuals and families. Up to $50 million will be used towards a first-time home buyer assistance program.
This is an ambitious and unprecedented measure with the broadest eligibility base ever to end homelessness and make affordable housing a reality. To pass Measure A this November, two-thirds of voters in Santa Clara County will need to approve. That’s 400,000 yes ballots.
For the large Vietnamese American community in San Jose, Measure A is particularly important because it can help provide housing security and reduce the homeless population. First, more affordable housing opportunities are needed for second generation Vietnamese Americans coming home from college and graduate school. They are increasingly forced to relocate to more affordable locations. Second, Measure A can help reduce the homeless population by providing housing assistance. One of the largest homeless encampments, “The Jungle,” existed right where Little Saigon was. “A majority of the San Jose Vietnamese community has lived with homelessness whether they were homeless or not,” Duong explained. Given what is at stake, Duong believes the Vietnamese community can prove its mobilization potential again by voting and helping the phone bank.
Being in this leadership role has given Duong the opportunity to add diversity to this field, as campaign manager positions often lack women representation, especially women of color. She has assembled a diverse “Yes on Measure A” team that is not only gender inclusive but can reach out to communities of color culturally and expertly.
Wrapping up the phone conversation with Betty Duong, congratulations are in order. With her blessing to share, the good news add to the many hats Duong wears and her dedication to the community.
“It has been fun and rewarding as the campaign manager, and I have picked up a lot of new skills. I found out I was pregnant on the second day of the campaign. That has taught me a lot about perseverance and given me an additional perspective on the importance of this measure: that I am helping to build something for our future just as our first generation did for us.”
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Viviane Nguyen She is a lover of politics. She has researched and worked in different levels of government in San Jose, Sacramento, Washington D.C., and Thailand. She is motivated to highlight issues impacting the Vietnamese-American community and Asian American communities at large. She was formerly a Cal-in-Sacramento Fellow at UC Berkeley and notably a Public Policy and International Affairs Fellow at the Goldman School of Public Policy. She wants to write to show why politics, especially in 2016, is important.