This is the first in a new series of blog posts highlighting the members and organizers of East Bay for Everyone.

A headshot of Ernest Brown

Name and pronouns. Ernest Brown, he/him

What is your housing story? I currently live in a 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom apartment with 4 people: Myself, partner, college friend, another friend we made in the Bay Area. All professionals with college degrees working in salaried positions.

What do you pay now? $4400/mo, another $100 in utilities, another $100 in cable, another $100 for a parking space.

What brought you to join EBFE? I came to join because I heard about the housing conversation here before I got here.

I could see a lot of orgs doing good work around tenants but nobody really grappling with the idea that if we keep adding jobs we have to be building some amount of housing. EBFE and the YIMBY movement seemed to be the only group taking that perspective on the crisis.

How did you hear about EBFE? When I first moved to the Bay Area I just so happened to rent a room from one of the early EBFE members.

What do you contribute? I’m a monthly donor. I try to be very engaged in our partnership strategy. Last year we saw the East Bay Young Democrats as an organization with young people struggling with housing but seemed to be avoiding taking positions on key housing legislation. I joined the organization, joined the policy committee, and now the board to push the organization to take better stances on addressing the housing crisis. I’m trying to partner with other aligned organizations. As a black man, I’m particularly focused on building stronger connections with black-led organizations in Oakland.

What do you do outside of EBFE? I work for a local health company doing business analysis. I’m also on the board of EBYD, and I’m a semi-professional salsa instructor.

What’s your favorite thing about EBFE as an organization? It brings me joy to be part of a group that is diverse in ways I could not have imagined prior. From gender and race to genuine disagreements about the way our political economy should work but nonetheless trying to come up with solutions we all think will address the crisis we face. We try to get to the facts about what we’re facing and reach solutions together even if our intellectual priors are different.

What’s something you’re super proud of in life? I’m a third or fourth generation college graduate from the south. I hope I get to continue a fairly long legacy of black excellence and black wealth building, and being at the end of that stream is pretty heavy sometimes but its pretty inspiring. If my grandad can figure it out, I can.