Homelessness, income inequality, mass incarceration, wage stagnation, housing shortages: COVID-19 didn’t create any of these things, but it did drag them blatantly and unmistakably into the light. With millions of Americans unemployed, uninsured, unable to pay rent, and at disproportionate risk of contracting COVID-19, it’s become impossible to avoid the fact that our social safety net has long been full of holes. Can this crisis be an opportunity to remake some of the structural inequities that have divided and stratified us for so long?
Experts on the front lines of these issues will delve deep into the context, history, and reality of some of our most entrenched ills, in “normal” times and extraordinary ones, and will discuss what we need to do to create a fairer future. Zach Norris, Executive Director of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, makes a strong case for the importance of collective accountability with We Keep Us Safe: Building Secure, Just, and Inclusive Communities, which Just Mercy‘s Bryan Stevenson called “an enormous contribution in the effort to advance human rights in this country.” He’s joined by New York Times reporter and housing expert Conor Doughtery, author of Golden Gates, praised by The Washington Post as “a compelling and accessible overview of California’s housing crisis.” Because no examination of inequality is complete without addressing one of California’s most deep-rooted issues—homelessness—we also welcome Joe Wilson, Executive Director of San Francisco’s Hospitality House, whose work on the front lines to protect unhoused people from the threat of COVID-19 has been shaped indelibly by his own past experiences living on the street. Discussion moderated by journalist Heather Knight, who regularly covers these issues for The San Francisco Chronicle.