(Unedited) Podcast Transcript 324: Latina Leaders in Transit

March 10, 2021

This week, Angie Rivera-Malpiede, Board Chair of the Regional Transportation District in Denver talks with Cindy Chavez, Former Board Chair of the VTA and Current Santa Clara County Supervisor. These Latina leaders chat about getting communities involved in transportation and leadership.

Jeff Wood (0s):
This podcast was produced by revolution edited by The Overhead Wire and appeared first on the Railvolution podcast, you can find the Railvolution podcast on your pod catcher of choice for a deeper dive on livability issues Or if you want to check out the annual conference on October, visit rail evolution.org that’s rail volution.org

Angie Rivera-Malpiede (1m 49s):
Listen, thank you all for inviting me in Cindy. It’s such a pleasure to be sitting across from an a such an extraordinary Latina a leader. So I’m pleased to be here. My name is Angie and and I am honored to be serving as the chairman of the board for the regional transportation district, which is a transit agency in the Denver metropolitan area. And in fact, R T D is the 16th largest Transit agency of the country. I’m also very honored to be the first Latina to have her hold this Chair historically. Number one, and number two, as of Tuesday night, I was voting in for a second term as the chairman of the Board.

Angie Rivera-Malpiede (2m 29s):
So I have extraordinarily honored and pleased to be leading this agency. This was an extraordinary agency. I’m going to brag a little bit. We last year for the first time hired our first female general manager, who was a woman of color. And for the first time in 52 years, RTB will be led by a Latina and a black woman, which I think is extraordinarily exciting for our region. And you know, the question about how did I get to this place? I think, you know, this has been my life’s journey and in Cindy, I don’t know about you, but everything has, is built on each other to get to this point.

Angie Rivera-Malpiede (3m 11s):
I am the vice president of a foundation for urban sustainable communities. And I am also a, an executive director for a transportation management association called Northeast Transportation connections. But my background is in community advocacy and I’ve done it for a very, very, very long time. And what I’ve learned is that all of my experiences has prepared me for this position that I’m in right now, all of my life’s journeys, all of my careers journeys. And I will tell you, I grew up in, in, in a struggling Latino family.

Angie Rivera-Malpiede (3m 52s):
I’m one of eight. We were trans independent. So I grew up riding the bus in this community for the last 50 years, which is really kind of mind blowing to use those numbers. But as chairman of the board, I know intimately the history of the Transit system in this community is my community. M. I have worked in non-profit organizations in literally every demographic you can think of. And one of the things that I’ve learned is that I am this community. And when I sit at the Chair making decisions, I noticed that really how people feel, I know what their fears are.

Angie Rivera-Malpiede (4m 33s):
I know what their dreams are, and I know the importance of Transit for them and their families. And so I bring a real unique perspective to this Transportation board. And the other thing I will tell you is I get it all through volunteering and people say, really, yes, volunteering is what got me to all of my goals that I was able to achieve. I was a single mom, raised two daughters by myself and I was working three jobs, but I was volunteering with them in tow learning about my community, advocating, learning the issues, experiencing the hardships.

Angie Rivera-Malpiede (5m 16s):
So when I sat at those tables, people listened to me because I was the touchpoint they didn’t have. And that’s what I bring to this chairman of the ship. And this is board of directors is kept the voice of the community with me of the disenfranchised communities that really struggle. And what I find is people are afraid of us because they don’t know how to communicate with us. And then if we have a different language that makes it even more complex and scary, we don’t live in a traditional eight five. We work in shifts, we do things at different times. And so it really teaches people how to be very flexible when they’re talking about serving community and Transit services for the needs of all people.

Angie Rivera-Malpiede (6m 5s):
So Cindy what about having to go for you?

Cindy Chavez (6m 9s):
Well, first of all, Angie congratulations on being reelected as a chairperson. That is so impressive. And it’s really an honor to get to sit across from a boundary Buster, you know, somebody who is making change in doing it in real time. That’s that’s exciting. So my name is Cindy Chavez. I serve on three different Transit boards. I just ended my chairpersonship of the Valley transportation authority that is here in Silicon Valley, Santa Clara County, our M congestion management agency, and it runs buses and light rail and invests in a heavy rail, including Bart here in the community. I’m also a member of the board of our key of Caltrain and Caltrain is a 77 mile three County venture that moves almost, I forget the number, but it’s thousands of people a day, approximately almost 60 something thousand pre COVID.

Cindy Chavez (7m 5s):
And I just got appointed to our metropolitan transportation commission, which has our nine Bay area County M commission. What’s really exciting about all of that, that I just said. And just speaking of women and leadership, we have a, a, a Panamanian woman. He was the head of the Valley Transportation authority. Who’s also the president of APTA this year, and that is an area of Fernandez. And the head of our metropolitan transportation commission is a woman by the name of Theresa Macmillan, who both served in the federal government previously served for this agency, but now is the head of it. And we just appointed, or a woman was just appointed to be the interim chair and the interim director of Caltrain named Michelle Bouchard.

Cindy Chavez (7m 49s):
So we really are seeing women leading in this community and women of color and LGBTQ women. So this is an exciting time I think, to be in Transportation just real briefly the points you raised about how, you know, I, I will say that I grew up taking the bus and I, I don’t think I fully appreciated that the bus and Bart connecting me to high school and college. I don’t think I fully appreciate it as we’re talking about equity, that one of the great equalizers in our community, you know, we all talk about that being education, but the ability to get from one place to another, to connect to opportunities for so many people only happens because of public transportation.

Cindy Chavez (8m 37s):
And so this is a really fabulous time to be engaged in Transit and really digging into issues of equity, both related to the transit dependent communities, but also how that fits into environmental justice. So anyway, I’m just thrilled to be on the, to be in the world right now, and to be able to be a part of our Transportation movement.

Angie Rivera-Malpiede (8m 56s):
I think it’s really exciting work as well in it. You know, one of the questions that I have been thinking about it was, you know, like what are some of the key issues in our community like education and housing and proud to say, Transit play a role and serving them in 2004, I was appointed to be on the RGB board of directors by Dan Mayer, John Hickenlooper. And I remember thinking, I don’t know why I need to be on a Transit Board, you know, cause I’m serving like a community. And after several people calling me and saying that we need that voice at the table, then, then like got there. And it started really digging in and figuring out that this was my opportunity to make policy for everybody.

Angie Rivera-Malpiede (9m 42s):
And that was an incredible gift to be able to check it out, I’ve write, but in my community where we’re at M there are 15 board members and we represent something like 3.1 million constituents in the metropolitan area. And really before pre COVID, we are at about 95,000 boardings a day. I mean, huge where down 60 to 65% now, as all transit agencies are dealing with this COVID issue. And I think my community, like so many other communities are dealing with some really difficult issues, housing, affordable housing, M housing around Transit systems.

Angie Rivera-Malpiede (10m 29s):
Like a, what is that look like in, is it affordable for everybody or for just those who can a paint marker. And that’s the first thing, the second thing is looking at these first, last mile components. So transit, do you see a huge issue, but if there isn’t a feeder bus coming in, how can people access it equitably? And so really looking at first Les miles. So R T D was the first transit agency in the country to partner with Uber to do first, last mile kind of components. But you know, you are introducing electric bikes. We are doing all kinds of banned pools and carpools. And I think that that’s what’s happening in terms of here is that we’re looking at collaborations and partnerships in order to serve the greater need.

Angie Rivera-Malpiede (11m 18s):
When I think of our TV, you know, we served just under 2,400 square miles, which is about the size of the state of Delaware there. And the, you know, it’s mind blowing to think that, you know, we have just around 10,000 bus stops and then in a week ever commute a rail system and we have a light rail system. And then we have frame all shuttle lights in is a very diverse in complex in the products that we provide this community. And because we’re such a big geographic area, it’s really cumbersome to really evaluate all of them, to make sure you’re meeting the needs of everybody. And so we do, we evaluate all of them three times a year in January may and in July.

Angie Rivera-Malpiede (12m 4s):
And so it is something that we’re constantly evaluating as we move forward. This year feels very, very different. We’re getting ready to lay off a great number of people at the regional transportation district because of our funding and our, our tax revenue going down and are, and our, you know, our funding going down it’s so it’s something that we need to work on together as a whole community, not just Transit agencies anymore, it’s going to take all of us. And, but it’s also a very exciting time of innovation and partnership. And I think for the first time, people are starting to realize just how very important Transit is to the economy.

Angie Rivera-Malpiede (12m 45s):
It truly is the economic backdrop. You’re absolutely right. So people can not get to where it is they need to get too, and they can succeed in what they’re goals and expectations are. I’m are you finding that to be true?

Cindy Chavez (12m 59s):
It is. So I think that’s such an important point that you’re raising. And the thing that I think that, that maybe, you know, that maybe as a, as leaders in, in the Transportation and trans the Transit movement, do we have to think much more about is how we share the opportunities that come with Transit and in particular, if you think about everything from economic prosperity, for an economic access, to being able to move goods and services within a region in a timely way to fighting climate change ’cause if you think about it, one of the most interest in, in my mind, one of the most interesting things about Transportation and Transit in general is that we have an opportunity to address so many issues at the same time, right?

Cindy Chavez (13m 51s):
Climate change, educational access, access to healthcare, access to jobs, you know, access to goods and services, and to be able to create regions that that easily allow for the movement of, of goods, particularly in areas like ours and yours that are really epicenters of innovation. And then I want to balance all of that to how do we build innovation that maintains an eye toward prosperity and, you know, and, and what that means, what does that mean in a, in an economy that reinvents itself, frankly, by making sure that you’re paying less for everything, right?

Cindy Chavez (14m 34s):
And so like your struggling Angie, as we are with these really strange budgets. And, and yet we, you know, we, we’ve got to figure out what is the new, new thing that doesn’t disenfranchise folks. And I love, you know, I’ll tell ya RTD up, I’d been a fan gone out to learn more about your system for a while. And so your point about electric bikes, you know, we are doing similar things, you know, scooters. And one of the interesting things here as it were finding is that the lap first and last mile, that people are less likely to get into a car if they have access to an electric bike, which makes sense, right?

Cindy Chavez (15m 16s):
Because people want the ultimate flexibility and freedom. You don’t wanna wait and you can go a little farther on them. So I think there’s a lot to learn in our industry as well.

Angie Rivera-Malpiede (15m 24s):
Yeah. I get to it, you know, and the other thing that I think it’s really interesting that people always ask is, you know, how do you bring in your lived experience to a board in M? How are letting the leader is influencing those conversations and actions at the board level. And I have to have to tell you how I’m the only Latino on the RTD board of directors and the other thing, and I’ll tell you, he goes, I’m the only Latino on the senior leadership level. And so it says to me, we have a lot of work to do when we represent 22% of the Transit population of our voice definitely needs to be at the table.

Angie Rivera-Malpiede (16m 5s):
But as you know, even in the Latino communities, we’re very, very diverse in our, in our cultures, in our beliefs and how we live our lives. And so I think that Transit agencies around the country and I was just at a Board talk for APTA. And the whole conversation was about that equity. And it was like, how are we going to get people with diverse backgrounds on Transit board’s? And one of the bigger issues is we need to be flexible so that they can’t be on Transit boards. And it reminds me that I did not run for an elected office until my girls were grown, because it took so much time and I really wanted to commit to that.

Angie Rivera-Malpiede (16m 48s):
Right. But when you’re working three jobs, it’s really hard to run as an elected official or to be appointed to any board because all you’re doing is trying to make ends meet and you get food on the table. But I think what it does is it allows us as Transit leaders to really stop and evaluate our work and how we are being inclusive and how we’re reaching out to two different communities. And I think that’s going to be really important and this not just this next year, but in these next five years. So it’s a real big issue for me at all on TV. What about you?

Cindy Chavez (17m 22s):
You know, Angie, I M I so appreciate that we all come to public service at different times in our lives. And, and, you know, I’m, I am a mother have a one child and my husband and I really accidentally decided to get into public service. I really was very active in the labor movement and I was active getting really good people, elected to office. And my husband and I bought a home in downtown San Jose. And we had, we just moved in, I just moved in and we were having challenges with a neighbor. And those challenges resulted in a, in a shooting one night where no one was hurt, but my house got shot.

Cindy Chavez (18m 5s):
And my husband, you know, it was the one who called the police and was telling me, don’t turn on the lights, honey. And I, and I’ll tell you, I literally found the bullet from this shooting in our bed the next day. And so that actually got me, like really fired up. And I remember just being like, okay, you know, I’ve been interviewing all these candidates. I’m really excited that they think they can change the world. But the one person who I know is going to fight tooth and nail is going to be me. And that’s also ultimately why he ran for office. And to your point, I think that what, what is so wonderful about having people of different ages and different backgrounds is that you bring very different perspectives, and I’m sure you’ve done that in your agency, but like right now we’re hiring a lot of young people.

Cindy Chavez (18m 53s):
And so we were trying to figure out how to do outreach on this new transportation plan. And it was really, you know, and, you know, of course the, the, the, the younger folks are very good at social media, but we started to do tele town hall is actually before COVID-19 way more people tuned in. And then we did, and that was for the more tech savvy. And then we did pop up survey sites along in, along our bus routes and then got on the buses and started interviewing people. And my point there is, is that I think that the more voices we bring that the better opportunity we have to make the services meaningful for our community.

Cindy Chavez (19m 35s):
And that’s that, you know, whether that’s my voice or others and, you know, it was a young mom, I have a different perspective than I do now. And, you know, so all of those perspectives are really valid. And I think that’s why your point about how to do the boards. We sit on really reflect the community, has to be a priority for each of us, including the boards and commissions that give input. Right. Okay. And so, yeah. So what, one, one of the other things I’ll say is with one of my colleagues here has put together a, a Transportation mentoring network that all of the women Leaders here are involved with where they are getting younger women, and Transportation in helping them figure out how to move up in their institutions so that they can play more of a leadership role.

Cindy Chavez (20m 19s):
And I think that’s the kind of the responsibility we have that, you know, Angie, I’m sure people helped you. And you might have a couple of those folks in mind as you’re thinking about it. I know I had women helping me, even before I knew it. They were mentoring me in spite of my pigheadedness and they were helping me be successful. A so anyway, those are some of the things that I, I I’d been investing in. And I, I guess I’d be curious about, you know, how, how based on the needs in your community are you thinking about, you know, the, you know, that what’s working in terms of outreach models of governance, I’d be just curious. Cause you know, RTD is so ahead of that, you guys really are ahead of most of us because of your multi County multi-regional approach.

Cindy Chavez (21m 4s):
It’s really fabulous.

Angie Rivera-Malpiede (21m 6s):
Yeah. I think, you know, I think that that’s the million dollar question. How do you get different voices that are at the table and how do you work with people in different areas? I think that we are very, very diverse, just like they’re all Transit agencies are. But when I think about all the things that you were talking about, how you do telephone town hall meetings, we can do that as well. But I think that you, you hit the nail on the head by going to the bus stops and talking to people they’re to find out what they are and how, how Transportation is. It is really impacting their daily lives.

Angie Rivera-Malpiede (21m 47s):
Cause when I think of that, it’s really all people want to go to their pass and often have a bus there. They don’t care about anything else. They are busy, they want to pay their fair and they want to give up on the bus. I need to carry a gun with what it is they need to get on with. And I do ride the bus all the time in the train, and I’m always fascinated listening to all the conversations in there ’cause you can learn so much by just listening. And I think that’s been a really big success model for me to me is listening. And man, you know, some of my constituents have become some of my best friends I’ll call in sick and they tell me for sure, you know, we are accessible by you, you know, all kinds of things in your right RGB has been Only leader.

Angie Rivera-Malpiede (22m 35s):
You know, in 2012, we started the work force now initiative, which we’re hiring community members to build out our commuter rail lines. And it was unprecedented and getting them power in the community. But not only that, it gave them a, a livable wage to build out this infrastructure that was going to serve generations because of their work in, nobody knew that community better than them. And I think that’s the secret sauce is actually going to the community that your in, in, in hiring them to do the work as we move forward and giving them the ability to be trained in all of these different facets that will kind of serve them and their families for a very, very long time.

Angie Rivera-Malpiede (23m 23s):
So that’s one thing. Second thing, you know, we do have a civil rights division. We are consistently looking at everything. We do have to have an SB and the DBE component so that we are making sure that our workforce is a very, very diverse. And then the last thing I’m going to say to you is we just had an election and we had an eight seats up for election five brand, new board members and three incumbents. And the five new board members, M three of them have four of us are in their thirties. They are young and there are, they are psyched. They want to change the world. They have all these amazing ideas.

Angie Rivera-Malpiede (24m 3s):
They are extraordinarily efficient and the world of it in social media and like, I am not, and I find it extraordinarily refreshing that there, there, and that we’re going to be working together. But I also think the other equation is us imparting on them are experience of wisdom that they can take and build on for their generation. And, and I think that that’s really exciting to me to go out. We do need to recruit younger folks to come on, but we also need to look at the diversity. We need to get people at the table who struggles so that, you know, it’s not just people who have made it, the people who are still climbing up that ladder, who can really give you a completely different ground kind of experience that you may not have, or no.

Angie Rivera-Malpiede (24m 58s):
And I like you have been an, of an advocate in my community in actually my community was one of the four communities in the us, in the state of Colorado. That was deemed one of the most dangerous during the summer of violence. We had a lot of gang violence and as a single mom with two little girls, I got very involved. And the reason I did was just because of the way that you did. And I wanted to have my finger on the pulse, but more than that, I wanted to a police officers to fill out their reports in my Ellie so that I have more protection. I mean, I learned that through volunteering, in getting to know people, they listen to you. And so I think that that’s exciting.

Angie Rivera-Malpiede (25m 39s):
And I think all of that transfers into Transportation because it is the nucleus of what we’re going to do and how we’re going to be moving forward as a community.

Cindy Chavez (25m 52s):
So I just, one of the things you touched on that just made me think a little bit about, you know, you know, the opportunities and that, you know, transportation is such an interesting thing. ’cause a lot of times people think of climate change and the economy on opposite ends and Transportation is such a great example of how you are building the green economy. Literally the backbone of that green economy is investing in Transit And and, you know, obviously electric cars and the other things. But, but when you think about it, it, it really is a really incredible opportunity for us to do, to do more.

Cindy Chavez (26m 34s):
And And again, to be able to spend a tax dollar with multiple outcomes, greening the economy, paying a decent wage, and then helping people build career ladders. And, you know, at VTA one of the things that we did, I think in about 2010, I was on the board in 1999, actually served for eight years and then went on to worked back in the labor movement. I actually ran for mayor of San Jose in 2005. And I, I lost. And what was interesting about that at that time, I didn’t realize that how few Latina mayors there were in the country. I had just assumed, I, you know, you don’t think about yourself and that, you know, always in those terms, but, but my, my, my bigger point there is that we, what we did there was we created an internal workforce ladder.

Cindy Chavez (27m 26s):
So if you came in as a janitor or a maintenance, and you want us to get into maintenance, we help us do the training that got you there, or to become a bus driver. And it really created opportunities for more and more women to get into M more stable jobs and the transportation industry and its in a partnership it’s a joint workforce, it’s a partnership between the Valley transportation authority and the labor movement in our communities. And one of the things that we’ve done is we’ve even trained people to put up the wiring of for M light rail. So those instead of hiring a external, you know, doing contracts, we’re able to hire people from our community and let them maintain them, build that out.

Cindy Chavez (28m 9s):
And so I, you know, one of the things that I just really, this, this conversation is reminding me is that, you know, as we think about the new administration and just the amount of money they’ve already put into M, the Congress has already put in to saving and protecting the, the transportation infrastructure nationally, that there is an opportunity to have a so many rates of return with every investment dollar that gets made in Transportation. So I think it’s really exciting and I’m excited to think, to see what they’re going to be doing and lobby them to invest more and more and more. That’s a, that’s a, I’m going to be my, and we had, I’m wearing for a bit

Angie Rivera-Malpiede (28m 50s):
I’m right there with you. In fact, I was having a conversation earlier this afternoon about the Bayou transition team and as a mayor Buttigieg understanding the grassroots issues of Transit issues and just transportation issues, particularly communities of diversity that have been, have really struggled historically. And, you know, RTP has a pretty good sized fleet of electric vehicles, but what we’re lacking is the infrastructure. And I think that this is our opportunity with the new administration to start talking about new innovations. Like, can we be supportive of each other to do infrastructure where we have places where buses can we get off and recharge and do all those things.

Angie Rivera-Malpiede (29m 38s):
Those are the things that I think we need to do next in order to elevate the climate kind of component. So if we have a electric vehicles or not doing this, you know, any of, kind of these emission things that are happening that really affect our BMT, but that we’re getting more clean air thing’s happening. And so I think it’s pretty exciting stuff that we’re about to go into that I’m really looking forward to it.

Cindy Chavez (30m 3s):
Angie what do you think of, you know, one of the things that we’ve been thinking a lot about here in our community and it’s something I’ve been thinking about just being, because I also serve as I’m a member of the Santa Clara County board of supervisors and you know, one of the emphasis I’d been making with our staff is, is to protect and maintain public right away and public ownership of those right. Of ways and not selling public assets. And one of the things that I think is really interesting, again, as we think about innovation is maintaining the, the highways and the freeways because irrespective of what’s going to go on them, long-term right. Whether that’s hovercraft electric vehicles, air taxis, whatever it is that the ability to make sure that the, the public can stay connected in my mind.

Cindy Chavez (30m 49s):
The protective thing that we need to do is make sure that those public assets Stay public assets and that we do P threes that, you know, don’t mean give away public assets at what it really means is that we use the public asset to lever leverage a private investment that has a long-term rate of return and a P and a cap, right? So that we’re not putting people at the whims of, of, of a, you know, rates of return so that we are really able to capture the value, add, keep that value add, but make sure that people can stay connected. And I’m wondering, are you having those discussions and debates, you know, in, in Colorado now,

Angie Rivera-Malpiede (31m 31s):
I think you just touched the live wire here. My community, my district has the central 70 project going through it. The central 17 is the major highway that was put into place in the sixties. And what it did was it split the community in half the, the community’s voice involved well nailed. They are re redoing central 70 because it is in such disrepair. And I’d been involved with these discussion since 2000 too. And it has become a national model of how not to exclude disenfranchised communities.

Angie Rivera-Malpiede (32m 22s):
The global Swansea leery is predominantly Latino. The average income for a family of four is like $12,000. This is a very low-income. It is a historical neighborhood. And they’ve been there since the 18 hundreds. There are slaughterhouses that you win and programs. And this is like how Denver started right in it with communities have diversity. And it, it has been an extraordinary experience to be a part of this. And the Colorado department of transportation did a series of workshops and meetings with communities. But community was very angry.

Angie Rivera-Malpiede (33m 4s):
They felt like they were being pushed out. Their land value was going up exponentially. What, and they were being pushed out of their neighborhood. They were being gentrified and they have fought back. They’ve actually put together a land trust coalition, they’ve educated themselves. They got funding to hire a consultant to come in and help them go to city council and get funding to give, get seed money, just start building their own affordable housing. And I think those are the kinds of innovations and ganas that we call that the inside you, you’re going to fight to preserve our homes and our community because it’s not just where they live.

Angie Rivera-Malpiede (33m 47s):
It’s an extension of, of their history. And they don’t want to let that go out. And it’s been really humbling to see them fight, to make sure that even though there are all of these brand new developments going on up, there are tons of market rate apartments, but the developers are also working with them too. Give them on a space to have meetings. They’re doing some affordable units, tiny steps, but we’re going, I think we’re working together in unison. But the thing that they did that I thought it was very interesting is the highlight went all over the community and it was, I’m one of the highest polluted neighborhoods in the country.

Angie Rivera-Malpiede (34m 32s):
And in fact, anal two, one six was the, the highest pollutant community in the country. So we had an unprecedented amount of, of kids and families with asthma and cancers and stuff. What they’re doing is they’re dropping the, the highway down underneath the community and then on top of their building a brand new park for the community, and it’s going to be extraordinary. In fact, they’re doing it right now. We are in your brain of a five-year plan to, to finish that out. So with that, we’ve started talking about things like walking bikey and where is trains in and all of this ’cause, this is clearly a transit dependent community and the need for it.

Angie Rivera-Malpiede (35m 20s):
Isn’t just that they need a new bus stop. It is that this is their livelihood. And to get to wherever it is, there’s also a food desert. They need services, they need Transit and, and it’s our job to make sure that they’re being served. So I know exactly what you’re talking about in the sense that we really need to start, not just being innovative. We need to be taken a look at those who don’t have anything kind of been left behind and making sure that we’re respecting who they are and protecting them from, you know, being left out

Cindy Chavez (35m 56s):
Here in our County. One of the things that we’ve been working on, and it’s, it’s interesting to hear that you are talking about that. That’s a, that’s a very powerful story. And really, it sounds like my guess is there’s a lot of powerful women behind all of that organizing and we are in our community. And then in 2016 past the housing bond, a $950 million housing bond with a majority of the money going to be extremely low in a very low income households. ’cause here. We built a lot of, we have built very little affordable housing relative to all the housing starts in California, but you know, one of the things that is really challenging is a family of four to be able to thrive in our community, needs to make about $120,000 a year.

Cindy Chavez (36m 47s):
That’s on the low end. And we have housing, you know, rents for a two bedroom apartment are in the, even now in the three or $4,000 range, even during COVID-19, they’ve dropped a little in San Francisco, but in Silicon Valley that prices haven’t dropped and So, you know, so we are, we’re really trying to, ’em working with community leaders, build as much housing as possible and make it affordable. And what’s fascinating to me is one how challenging that has been because everybody wants to just not see homeless people, but they don’t want them housed in their communities. So we have that balance have a very generous community.

Cindy Chavez (37m 28s):
And our, our, our folks voted over two thirds to have this housing bond. And so anyway, we’re working really hard to build that affordable housing. So one of the things we did is in partnership with the Valley transportation authority and with Caltrain is we put in M affordability targets. So for all the housing that we’re building next to stations, 35% of it has to be low or very low are extremely low income, and it can be balanced, right? Like the entity can still make money over a long period of time again, because we don’t want to sell assets, but we want to make sure that that we’re doing what’s good for the community and making those investments over an extended period of time.

Cindy Chavez (38m 12s):
So that 35% can be shared over a particular projects or properties. And we put that in about the same time that we voted on our last we’re a self-help County, we we’ve taxed ourselves to build out Bart and to invest in Cal train and to invest in roadway improvements. And the like, so we’ll no more, you know, like we’re in the process now of doing RFPs and RFQ is four sites around our transit districts with this 35% a requirement, some of the money to offset that is coming from the housing bond so that we can build in the extremely low and very low income housing and have it B you know, two or three bedrooms so that you also have opportunities for families to be able to live near Transit.

Cindy Chavez (38m 59s):
So that’s on our to-do list.

Angie Rivera-Malpiede (39m 2s):
Wow. I think that’s all of our to-do list. Our transit oriented development. There are a several projects that have section eight housing next to it. Now that I think is really M, we’re going to have to be looking at those kind of components. Right. And, and I agree with you. I think that it’s going to take those kinds of programming to make sure that we are serving our most vulnerable populations. And Denver we have, you know, the unhoused community and Denver is doing some innovative kinds of components. They have found a couple of pilot projects where they’re taking parking lots of churches, and there are putting up a micro units, kind of like a little micro units for people to be able to feel safe.

Angie Rivera-Malpiede (39m 53s):
That’s one thing, the second thing is we are seeing more and more people living in their cars. They’re finding parking lots, where they can park overnight and not be hassled and then have a place to go in and, and taking a shower and you use the restroom. So, I mean, I think we’re having to look at all everything we can possibly get in our toolbox and expanding it because things have changed drastically. And the affordability of housing is just gone. It’s gone. And we got to figure out how to rain this. Then I think that’s going to be really important across the whole country for all of us, but I’m really excited about your 35%.

Angie Rivera-Malpiede (40m 34s):
I’m going to be calling you and checking up on it.

Cindy Chavez (40m 36s):
I will send you the policies. Yeah. Eh, you know, we, we, we try to swap with good smart women like you all over the country, because you know, all of these new ways of thinking, you know, we, we want to help out. So yeah. We’ll make sure you share that with You. I know we are getting close to the end of the time we get to spend together, but maybe I’ll just say to you, Angie just how much I appreciate getting an opportunity to talk to such a dynamic smart, vibrant leader. And it gives me great hope for the future of transportation that we have women like You in leadership and here in Silicon Valley, as we’re struggling through COVID-19, you know, the thing that I’m I’m in, and really even the times, you know, as we’re, we’re just on the, on the heels of The this very bumpy, transition, and power in our country, it is a reminder to me that leaders have Goodwill at every level of government.

Angie Rivera-Malpiede (41m 35s):
M, couldn’t be more needed than we are right now. So thanks for letting me spend time with you. Cindy the same for you. I am so grateful to meet you. And I think that your leadership is an inspiration to, to the MI thousands of women. And you know, all of the women listening on this podcast, particularly at the lunch, young, the young folks and young Latinas we need to, we need to at the table, we need you to get educated and we need you to call us and tell us if you need information, because that’s, our job is to, to get all the wisdom that we’ve learned, but to understand that we can learn from you as well.

Angie Rivera-Malpiede (42m 16s):
But Cindy what a pleasure I look forward to working with you. I’m going to be calling you and I’ll see what’s out there and Transit okay. Thank you.


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