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Viet Vote builds community power for our Vietnamese community in San Diego through public education and organizing on various issues to increase civic engagement toward our campaign of building a community center. Our Viet Vote team came together as a volunteer group in 2017 after seeing our Vietnamese community, despite being in San Diego for 30+ years, has no power structure built. Our initial work of non-partisan voter’s education encouraged more community members to vote and exercise their power. Within the first 2 years, we increased voter turnout from 9% to 12%. During a voter outreach campaign, we also surveyed our community if they would support the idea of building a community center, an overwhelming 97% said yes. Our organizational work plan has three phases: relationship building, organizing and the construction of the community center. Our first phase is to bring resources into our community, an inequity that was amplified during the pandemic. Facing the housing crisis in California, we are organizing around the issue of housing and tenant protections with our community members, who have average and below-average incomes, to prevent displacement and homelessness. Among these struggles, we also celebrate the community's resilience, such as creating a mural for our Vietnamese community and a cultural event to promote intergenerational healing at the Mingei museum. This work will help us set the stage for the next phase of organizing them toward the campaign of building a mixed-use community center with 100% affordable housing and a cultural space for our community.
About the Organization:
$100,000 - $500,000
The Vietnamese community in San Diego have been immigrants and refugees for over 30 years. Our community is split into two different generations: first generation of refugees & immigrants from Vietnam fleeing the country after the Vietnam War & a younger 2nd generation born in America. Geographically, our community is divided into three little pocket neighborhoods that dilutes our physical presence. As a result, the community doesn’t have the power structure - and yearn for one - to bring resources that will support their growth or help them address their struggle in the housing crisis and rent increase protecting themselves from being displaced or unhoused. The outreach into this community has been minimal and ineffective . Currently, there are no other organizations in San Diego that do work on the housing and tenant protection issue in the Vietnamese community. Organizations (including the local government) that are working on this issue cannot reach our Vietnamese community due to the lack of knowledge of our community or the trauma from the Vietnam War that affects the way our community members see toward civic engagement and the lack of the language skill. The local Vietnamese organizations only focus on cultural events such as the annual Lunar New Year Festival and Black April Vigil. When it comes to civic engagement or resources/programs, Viet Vote is the only organization that can fill this gap for our Vietnamese community. In 2019, we were the only Vietnamese organization in San Diego that did work in Census for our community. Since conception of the organization, we have been consistently engaging our community with information about voting and encouraging them to exercise their voices at the polls. And we consistently researched resources that are relevant to our community needs and brought info to share with them. As a growing organization and the only one that is directly serving the community of 42,252 Vietnamese, we are limited by available resources. In order to fully serve and organize our community to build power, we need resources and support to increase capacity and staffing.
Viet Vote researches for resources that are relevant to our community needs and brings directly to our community with effective, proactive and bilingual outreach tactics. We have been able to establish a level of trust from the community that our organization is a credible source of information for them. In addition to the lack of resources, the Vietnamese community is affected by the housing crisis, rent increase & homelessness. 47% of the Vietnamese community are renters & yet there is a lack of data/info, nor enough outreach into our community on these issues. This is a unique population who culturally doesn't let their loved ones sleep on the streets. Communal living is a common practice. Couch surfing, for example, does not fit into the current "unhoused" definition. We currently conduct a research study to fill the gap of information and data on the Vietnamese community on the housing issue. We will engage our Viet community with a survey asking specific questions with an understanding of the way our people live to draw out the information that other organizations couldn’t get from our community. We will also use this opportunity to educate the Vietnamese community and provide them with information on tenant protection and other resources to protect them from falling into homelessness. Even small businesses are experiencing commercial rent increases. The same tenant protections programs provided to residentials are relevant to small business owners. With many business assistance programs blocking small minority-owned businesses out with stringent processes of qualification, they need support & resources. If neighborhood cornerstones are closed down, the presence of our community disappears with them. The data collected from our outreach survey will be the foundation for calling upon the local government to invest in our community by providing the resources necessary to overcome these challenges.