The Western Center on Law & Poverty, one of California's leading housing rights organizations, announced on its website that Legislative Advocate Christine Minnehan is retiring. Christine began her career with the Western Center in 1974, moving on in 1981 to become Legislative Coordinator for the Department of Housing during the first Jerry Brown Administration. She then served 10 years as Principal Consultant, Housing, for State Senate President David Roberti, and rejoined forces with Western Center in 1992.

I first met Christine ten years ago, when I was a Commissioner on the Berkeley Rent Board -- and she was our lobbyist in Sacramento. No one else in the State Capitol understands California landlord-tenant issues better, and fights harder for low-income tenants in a daunting political environment where the real estate lobby is so powerful. Not only was Christine an indispensable source for us at the local level, but I had the privilege of working with her several times in Sacramento -- as we made the rounds of legislative offices.

Christine's many legislative accomplishments during her 37 years include working with Senate President John Burton to develop and pass Proposition 46 of 2002, a $2.1 billion bond issue for affordable housing; establishing the 20% revenue set-aside for housing by redevelopment agencies; and scores of fair housing and landlord-tenant reforms, such as requiring a 60-day notice of a no-cause eviction, exempting SRO's from the Ellis Act, prohibiting housing discrimination based on the source of a tenant's income, and mandating deadbolts in rentals to protect tenants' safety.

In May of this year, Christine received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the California Housing Consortium at their 2011 Spring Policy Forum. The award was presented by Former Dept. of Housing Director Lynn Jacobs who said that nothing has been accomplished in affordable housing in the last 30 years without Christine’s participation. She will be sorely missed.