YIMBY Dispatches
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YIMBY Dispatches

All Roads Lead to Housing

How 2020 made me housing insecure and drove me into the pro-housing movement.

2020 looked grim from day one: COVID-19 getting out of control in China, wildfires burning simultaneously in various continents — what else could go wrong? So much. The pandemic got personal.

Between my husband Kasey and me, we lost four family members to COVID-19. That’s simply unfathomable.

Rudy & Kasey (left to right)

When I lost my job in the summer of 2020 and our roommate moved out due to the pandemic, we also almost lost our apartment. Because in California we don’t build enough housing where we live, rents are astronomical. Our rent was way too much to afford on one income.

I had done everything right! I’ve worked in top companies spanning multiple industries my entire career. I was recognized as a high-performer and strategist. I led marketing teams for Nestle and Intel in numerous countries and most recently led a product launch for Google. Coming from a working family, I knew that socioeconomic mobility comes through education, networking, and hard work. I took this seriously, and I did my part. But here I was, on the brink of losing my home.

We were saved by a kind and creative property manager and rental assistance from the government. But too many families are not so lucky. Too many folks have to move far outside of where they work, spending less time with their families, and increasing greenhouse gas emissions because they simply have to drive more. Other families have to crowd in with relatives — which is what we would have done if our housing had fallen through. Throughout the Bay, too many families are living on top of each other to subsist. This is never acceptable. Subsisting isn’t living. We want our communities to thrive. But COVID-19 makes overcrowded housing deadly — when one person becomes infected in a multigenerational home, it puts so many at risk of infection.

with Dolores Huerta, Labor and Civil Rights Activist

I also know that the unlucky ones often look like me. Communities of color are disproportionately affected by the housing shortage. The spread of COVID-19 in overcrowded households is a huge problem for the Latinx community. I was recently on a video call with four Latinas, and ALL of us had lost family members to the deadly virus.

As the horrors of 2020 unfolded, I took the opportunity of being back on the job market to focus my talents and experience on making a positive change. I took a temporary job with the California Democratic Party as the field coordinator for the Peninsula. Immediately I took a strategic approach to my work and established partnerships with multiple volunteer groups, resistance groups, and like-minded organizations. In a matter of months, my field office became the largest, and we ultimately made over 5 million calls with over 10,000 volunteer shifts.

When the election season ended, I made an even more significant move. Earlier this month, I accepted the position of Marketing Director for YIMBY Action. The new job was a significant pivot for my family and me since I have an extensive corporate career. But after everything that happened to me and my community in 2020, I knew I needed to focus my career on making our cities inclusive and livable FOR ALL.

Fighting to end the housing shortage is critical for climate action, healthcare, and racial and social justice. All roads lead to housing. In 2020, I experienced the effects of the housing shortage, personally. So guess what, I’m joining the fight.

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Rudy Espinoza Murray

Rudy Espinoza Murray

Latino & LGBTQ. Gun Violence Prevention, Immigration, and Pro-housing advocate

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