Multiracial group of Orange County residents speak on housing, healthcare at redistricting hearing
Orange County residents dialed in to the first online-only hearing of California’s independent redistricting commission for the region on July 8. Many callers were Latino and Asian residents speaking out on the region’s housing and health crisis.
Callers were affiliated with organizations working for decades in the region for environmental justice, civic engagement, immigrant rights and workers’ rights. The organizations came together as the People’s Redistricting Alliance, and meets regularly in Orange County with members to jointly discuss redistricting and engagement. Groups decided to work together after uphill fights on local policy efforts to improve the lives of communities in need.
“Redistricting should improve the lives of those most in need, not work against them,” said Mary Anne Foo, executive director of the non-profit Orange County Asian and Pacific Islander Community Alliance, known in the community as OCAPICA.
Nail salon workers throughout the state are predominantly Vietnamese American, and many come from refugee backgrounds. Manicurists “have often been misclassified as independent contractors instead of employees and are therefore denied critical protections such as sick time, workers’ comp, and breaks,” shared Caroline Nguyen, resident of Garden Grove and program assistant at the California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative. Nguyen noted that when the COVID-19 relief package was implemented in March of 2020, “(those who) were misclassified as 1099 workers instead of W2 employees were not eligible for unemployment insurance. It wasn’t until a second relief package was introduced a few months later that they gained access to these benefits.”
Low-income communities of color in Fullerton, Anaheim, and Santa Ana are “impacted by soil lead levels, sometimes exceeding 50x the recommended limit, ignored when voicing their concerns about water quality due to poor pipes and other infrastructure concerns, or even horrendous air quality from traffic and oil plumes,” pointed out Kayla Asato, redistricting campaign organizer with Orange County Environmental Justice. Asato noted that these environmental justice issues are “often overlooked by policy makers, while low-income and mostly Latinx communities already facing problems like housing injustice and police brutality, pay the price.”
Vietnamese and broader Southeast Asian communities in Orange County “have shared experiences associated with being both low-income and immigrants and refugees and face related challenges like access to affordable housing, with many living in non-traditional housing and mobile homes,” said Vincent Tran, community engagement coordinator with VietRISE. According to the US Census, over 60% of the Vietnamese community is foreign born and over 70% of the Vietnamese in the city of Westminster are foreign born.
These and others are examples of a long-standing trend on health, housing, and many other policy crises in the region that adversely impact Latinx, Vietnamese, Chinese, Korean and other people of color and immigrant communities – at all layers of government.
This is the third public meeting at which members of the alliance have participated to voice community concerns. The alliance is also involved in redistricting at the local level, including county supervisorial districts, as well as a number of city councils and school boards districts.
Residents can learn more at the alliance’s website at occivic.org/redistricting.
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Contact: Yongho Kim, Communications Consultant, OCCET, (323) 968-3358 firstname.lastname@example.org
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 9, 2021