Key Takeaways from Convening on Community-Government Partnerships

No matter how much the Bay Area changes over the years, it will always be home to me. I grew up in Oakland, and after living in Los Angeles for ten years, I returned in 2020 to a region that had become much harsher to many of those who make the Bay Area diverse and vibrant. My return also helped me understand that I didn’t know much of the Bay Area outside of the bubble in which I grew up. When I joined the Partnership for the Bay’s Future (PBF) through the Policy Grants Fellowship, it gave me the opportunity to expand my horizons and deepen my understanding of the transformation of the region as well as the differences, similarities, and interdependencies across cities. While Los Angeles has a reputation as a fragmented metropolis, the water that separates us here can also make parts of the Bay feel worlds apart. That’s why it’s crucial for us to work together across the region to reshape the systems for more equitable housing futures for all.

PBF’s Policy Grants program does just that by advancing equitable housing solutions through effective partnerships between governments and community-based organizations, centering those usually excluded from the policy process. The cohort of Policy Grants teams held its first convening this September, bringing together representatives from each jurisdiction, leaders from their partnered community organizations, and fellows like me, who serve as the bridge between the two. Representatives also joined from the San Francisco Foundation, LISC Bay Area, Enterprise Community Partners, and Informing Change, LLC, which each support these partnerships in critical ways. Together, we’ll spend the next two years developing and implementing policy initiatives to preserve affordable housing, support emerging BIPOC developers, and contribute new affordable units to the housing stock through innovative means.

Forging relationships across a region is an effective tool in expediting the development of equitable policies, but critical work is still needed to facilitate interjurisdictional coordination, cooperation and information sharing. The Policy Grant’s innovative approach aims to reach that goal by housing a network of experts across sectors throughout the region to share resources, research and tools to serve the public in collaborative fashion. This network represents an opportunity to accomplish something special in the Bay Area as well as an opportunity to create intraregional leadership models that can be adapted and applied beyond these nine counties.

So much insightful knowledge was learned and shared at this convening, and these are my three key takeaways:

1. Policy Coordination Must Prioritize Racial Equity
We urgently need to prevent homelessness, protect tenants, and produce and preserve affordable housing to keep pace with population and job growth, impede displacement, and balance power. However, conventional technocratic systems have been embedded and caused racial disparity in housing outcomes across each of these objectives. In order to prioritize racial equity in housing policies, we need to conduct explicit racial analysis and evaluation of who receives the benefits, who gets assigned the costs, and who remains excluded. And because housing is so intimately intertwined with transportation, health, employment and economic opportunities, this work is important because housing justice can have cascading effects on racial disparities in all these areas. Many jurisdictions are very early in the process of reckoning with their historical and current participation in racial disparity, thus prioritizing racial justice in housing will take dedicated ongoing commitment and leadership from every part of the Bay Area.

2. Production and Preservation Work Better in Tandem
It’s a rare occasion for any jurisdiction in California to produce enough housing to meet its needs for low-, very low-, and extremely low-income levels. As the state’s policy changes target high resource neighborhoods for affordable housing production (which is useful to nudge legacy exclusionary areas to build affordable units), neighborhoods characterized as low-resource stand to lose out on important resources to produce new units of affordable housing.

For jurisdictions that have a reasonable expectation of being left behind for production funding, adding affordable units through preservation can be cheaper per unit, cover areas where production is not viable, interrupt building decay, and be a valuable stabilization tool for families at risk of displacement. State and regional resources to support a preservation system are becoming more readily available, and it’s important for public sector leaders to understand these tools and how best to use them. However, jurisdictions can be subject to divide-and-conquer strategies that pit production and preservation as competing rather than complementary objectives. That’s why the Policy Grant’s network of policy leaders is essential to empower the region to strategically optimize a multiple-tools approach of addressing both preservation and production.

3. Build a Network for Change That Is Greater Than the Sum of Its Parts
The Policy Grants network brings experience and expertise across a broad series of careers spanning multiple geographic regions. While each jurisdiction is immediately focused on locally specific objectives, each is also committed to the shared regional goals of building a system to create broader and bigger change. This partnership enables us to appropriately lobby, advocate, and implement key local legislation, which then can provide proof of concept for housing innovations, scale best practices learned, and develop habits of regional analysis and problem solving. Support from the San Francisco Foundation, community development financial institutions like LISC Bay Area, and technical assistance from organizations like Enterprise Community Partners will play a key role in facilitating this work.

The regional connection of movement building is also a crucial component because siloed policy efforts don’t produce the lasting wave of change that the region desperately needs. We need local governments, community organizations, and civic partners from across the bay to learn from each other and build a practice of reflexive togetherness. In addition to accomplishing short-term goals, the promise of the Partnership for the Bay’s Future lies in its ability to shift the entire conversation on housing, development, and justice – to lean into challenging questions and steer the Bay Area towards a more equitable future.

Benjamin Toney is a Partnership for the Bay’s Future Policy Grant Fellow and a proud product of the public school system in Oakland, California. Previously, he was an organizer in Los Angeles, recruiting and developing community leaders to advance racial and economic justice, and has also worked with youth as a recreation and arts coordinator, tutor, and college admissions mentor. He is completing a Doctorate in Urban Planning and is eager to bridge the gap between the academic arena and communities in the world.

Read More :

A Community’s Vision for Publicly Owned Land

It was a brisk October morning in downtown Richmond, when community members gathered at a vacant lot on MacDonald Ave, Richmond’s historic mainstreet, and 16th St, across from the Richmond BART station. Some of the group who live nearby mentioned that the lot had been vacant for as long as they could remember. Mostly everyone agreed that these types of vacant lots around town were so common, they barely noticed them anymore. 

The group consisted of lifetime Richmond residents and members of local community based organizations: Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE); and RichmondLAND, a community land trust and grantee of the Partnership for the Bay’s Future’s (PBF) Policy Grants. As a PBF Fellow, I’m working to strengthen cross-sectoral collaboration between the community, RichmondLAND and the City of Richmond’s Community Development department – bringing the community’s voice to the policy-making process. The land we stood on is owned by the City of Richmond, designated “surplus land” in compliance with a state law called the Surplus Land Act, and I gathered this group to hear their thoughts on developing land like this.  

The Surplus Land Act
The Surplus Land Act – updated by AB1486 in 2020 – requires that unused public land be prioritized for affordable housing while reducing cost barriers to housing development. The bill defines “surplus” as land owned by any local government agency that is not necessary for the agency’s use. The government agency must then make land available for affordable housing before selling or leasing the land for another purpose. The City of Richmond has identified 14 sites as surplus, and our group had planned a walking tour of 8 of those sites. 

In spite of its desolate makeup of litter, fractured pavement and overgrown grass, the group imagined the vacant lot transformed into housing and the powerful impact this could have at such a visible location. Led by RichmondLAND’s staff, community members discussed the need for permanently affordable housing, community controlled housing through a land trust model, and housing for large families in order to address overcrowding in housing.  

After gathering at the first lot, we walked down MacDonald Ave, stopping at vacant sites and structures along the way, while the residents continued their discussion and I gathered information on community member needs and priorities. For RichmondLAND, this sparked the beginning of what could become a participatory community driven plan for their acquisition and development strategies.  

Equitable Public Land Policy
One of my top priorities as a PBF Fellow has been to support the City of Richmond and RichmondLAND develop an Equitable Public Land Policy, which will go beyond what the Surplus Land Act requires for developing affordable housing on public land. We’re developing a policy that includes robust community engagement and prioritizes development by local community land trusts to preserve and produce permanently affordable rental housing; increases community ownership of housing; and supports homeownership attainment in Richmond, particularly for low-income, rent burdened residents and residents of color who are vulnerable to displacement and/or locked out of traditional homeownership models. This walking tour was the first of many community engagement efforts to advance this new policy.  

Partnerships, Collaboration and Data Visualization Are Essential to Policy Development
For this walking tour, we provided the community members with a map of all surplus land and other forms of vacant land in Richmond with detailed information on square footage, zoning, and in some cases, housing density potential. Their great interest in this information illustrated the importance of ground truthing data and the power of data visualization, specifically through mapping. While much of the City’s data on vacancy and surplus is publicly available, it can be hard to find on obscure state and local websites, if it is published at all. That’s why I have been gathering data sources on vacancy and developing a spatial inventory of vacant, deteriorated, and/or abandoned land as well as much detailed information on ownership and development potential.  

Through  the PBF Policy Grants Technical Assistance fund, I retained a Geographic Information (GIS) Specialist and UC Berkeley Urban Planning graduate student, Victoria Beckley, to support the project. Victoria created an online interactive web map which provides a comprehensive landscape of land within the City of Richmond. Victoria also connected us with students in a graduate GIS class, who collected primary data in the Iron Triangle neighborhood of Richmond in order to document vacancy and deterioration, and verify or update public data sources on vacancy. Their data collection has also been mapped. This collaboration has led to subsequent group projects with the students to support Richmond’s policy work which will be completed by the end of the school semester. This type of primary data collection and mapping supports the policy design and can be used, as it was on the walking tour, as a community engagement and education tool.  

A Little Imagination Goes a Long Way
The walking tour concluded at the largest of the 8 lots, at the corner of 1st St and Nevin Ave. Community members noted that the site was very close to a large subsidized housing complex at which many of their relatives lived and the need for affordable fresh produce in the neighborhood. They began to imagine both the possibility of housing and a cooperative grocery store on the site, given its size. As we wrapped up the tour, we heard comments like,  “Can we do this again?” and “I want to bring my family next time.” 

While standing on a vacant lot feels insignificant to so many people, it turns out kindling community members’ imagination and situating it within their own context and experiences can transform the space into real life equitable development possibilities. This has fueled my excitement to finalize a proposal with the City of Richmond staff for the Equitable Public Land Policy. I will continue to work closely with RichmondLAND to ensure community members’ expertise and needs inform the policy development and implementation process.  

Read More :

From Being a Statistic to a Part of the Housing Solution

I can never forget that it was 2001 when I first moved to San Francisco because September 11th happened that year. It was a weird time. Like the pandemic we’re currently living through, there was a lot of fear and uncertainty. I accepted my first job after graduating college at a public affairs company and moved into an apartment in the Tendernob. Almost completely oblivious of my status in the world, it never occurred to me that I was a low-income renter spending over 50% of my income on housing. And not only was I one of the lowest paid workers but I was also one of the only people of color on staff. I only lasted two years before I moved to another more affordable city. The advantage of perspective now allows me to see that I was part of a statistical trend that has always plagued the Bay Area: another person of color who was pushed far away from the center of jobs.

Now that I have come full circle to working again in the Bay Area and have the privilege to join the San Francisco Foundation (SFF), I am struck that the equity challenges that I encountered over 20 years ago persist. Data shows that low-income folks, particularly communities of color, are either burdened unsustainably by the cost of housing or leaving the Bay Area at alarming rates, devastating the diversity that makes the Bay Area a vibrant and thriving place. These community members can’t fully participate in the economy and plan for their future because they spend too much of their hard-earned money on rent.

While it can be easy to become discouraged or numb to this reality, I knew I had the chance to make a difference. And I knew I had found my tribe of change-makers when I joined SFF and the Partnership for the Bay’s Future (PBF) team. PBF’s composition as a multisector collaborative exemplifies and leads critical strategies that are vital for equitable housing solutions: building capacity in the affordable housing sector, catalyzing policy and financing shifts, democratization of data, and spurring activism for change. I am encouraged by the momentum we’re building that promises to keep communities intact by protecting lower wage workers so they can remain in their neighborhoods and homes, and where we – a broad array of partners including community and faith-based organizations, and leaders in the civic, private and philanthropic sectors – invest in more affordable housing development with creativity and an equity mindset.

On the building capacity and catalyzing policy front, I recently attended a convening of the PBF Policy Grantees and was struck by the diverse levers of change that cities, community organizations and their housing expert Policy Fellows are pulling to protect tenants and make housing more affordable across the Bay Area. Because these efforts are built on the idea that the community must have a voice in policy creation through partnering CBOs with jurisdictions, grantees’ policy plans – such as Tenant/Community Opportunity to Purchase Acts (COPA/TOPA) being proposed in several jurisdictions – are gaining ground. Just look at San Jose, where hundreds of community members showed up for the COPA Cumbia event. This event built support for community ownership models by helping community members understand how policies like this can benefit immigrant and BIPOC communities and how they can get involved. The virtuous cycle of this work is not only the preservation and production of affordable housing in lower income communities across the region, but it is also helping expand the state-wide scale of community land trust (CLT) organizations as they are integral in helping fund COPA/TOPA projects. The growing membership of the California Community Land Trust Network and the proliferation of CLT projects grounded in community activism herald a rising tide in the housing justice movement.

Financing of affordable housing across the spectrum of project types has become an all-hands-on deck endeavor. For example, PBF’s Family of Loan Funds for producing and preserving affordable housing, stewarded by LISC Bay Area, exemplifies entry points for corporate partners to invest in a collective vision for a more equitable and affordable Bay Area. I was particularly inspired by a recent LISC event in Oakland that highlighted partnerships with housing developers, banking institutions and faith-based organizations looking to build affordable housing on their land. How exciting that LISC is expanding their cohort of the Faith And Housing program to include multiple Bay Area counties!

On another encouraging note, data is more transparent and available than ever to those committed to solving the housing crisis. We are in an exciting time when data has finally been harnessed for accountability and action – the Bay Area Equity Atlas being a crucial resource for tracking how we are doing on inclusive prosperity across the people, place and power equity framework. And if you haven’t checked out the Housing Readiness Report and Evictorbook, these are great examples of collaborative data projects that put powerful information into the hands of community residents and housing advocates to create political will and apply pressure toward ensuring more affordable housing is available in the Bay Area. The Housing Readiness Report holds cities accountable for their affordable housing commitments to the State; and the Evictorbook removes the veil of corporate real estate ownership so that residents who receive eviction notices can inform themselves and fight back.

The final key is shifting the narrative to grow public support and political will for housing and racial justice. The collaborative project Shift the Bay has developed strategic messaging based on evidence-based research. This work is unseating negative attitudes about affordable housing and racial equity, and fostering a political environment where policy wins can be achieved at the local and state level. With significant work ahead on the policy front, storytelling as part of advocacy and organizing is essential to passing legislation and ballot initiatives that will change the unjust systems. I am excited to be one of many in this movement that is mobilizing communities, directing resources and changing policy in unprecedented ways.

What an honor to be joining you all in ensuring the Bay Area is a diverse, equitable and affordable place where people from all walks of life can thrive. Your work inspires me, and I look forward to learning from and working with you all.

Elisa Orona is the new Senior Director for the Partnership for the Bay’s Future. Please feel free to reach her at eorona@sff.org.

Read More :

Bringing COPA to the Community

I used to think I was one of only a handful people who enjoyed talking about affordable housing policy on a Friday evening. But a few weeks ago I was blown away when over 300 people came together in East San Jose to learn about San Jose’s proposed Community Opportunity to Purchase Act (COPA). SOMOS Mayfair, a grassroots organizing group and service provider based in San Jose’s Mayfair neighborhood, organized the “COPA Cumbia” to educate community members and generate enthusiasm for COPA while dancing to cumbia and enjoying food. Attendees included community members who were learning about COPA for the first time; partner organizations that have been convening as part of a “COPA Coalition” for well over a year; a local city council candidate; and staff from a state senator’s office.

What is COPA?
COPA is an anti-displacement policy that would keep lower income families in their homes when a property owner moves to sell the property. It would level the property acquisition playing field between traditional real estate players, such as investors who can purchase properties in cash, and non-profit affordable housing groups. In contrast to traditional for-profit buyers, these non-profits – including affordable housing developers, community land trusts and limited equity cooperatives – would be required to keep the units permanently affordable. If adopted in San Jose, COPA would stabilize neighborhoods that are undergoing displacement, add units to the permanently affordable housing stock, and could provide non-traditional homeownership options for lower-income families who would otherwise be completely priced out of homeownership in the area. COPA also has the potential to serve as a tool for empowering residents to substantively participate in the property acquisition process by encouraging mission-driven buyers to consult with them before moving forward with the purchase.

Base-Building at Cumbia COPA
Base-building events like these are extremely important not only for gathering support, but also for sustaining the strength of campaigns like COPA in San Jose, which often span multiple years. They present important opportunities for ongoing community education and engagement – especially in a culturally relevant environment with bilingual volunteers and community members who are the ones most likely to be impacted by this type of policy. Although SOMOS Mayfair first encouraged San Jose to explore developing a COPA policy in 2019, COPA is a relatively new policy in the Bay Area. For effective advocacy to occur, it’s crucial that community members are well-informed about the policy and how they or their neighbors could benefit from it. For many community members, this kind of initial contact with the policy becomes a gateway for engaging in future COPA advocacy events.

dancing

With detailed policies like COPA that most community members are unfamiliar with, advocates need innovative and captivating ways to share complex information. SOMOS Mayfair ingeniously set up eight tables, each of which covered a specific topic (e.g. “What is COPA?” “Where does the money come from?” and “How does it work for tenants?”). Attendees were asked to listen to explanations from volunteers at each table in order to receive a stamp in a “COPA passport.” Community members then turned in their fully-stamped passport to participate in a raffle.

raffle

Because SOMOS Mayfair is a grassroots organization with deep knowledge of how to engage their community, they understood how to create an encouraging environment where participants had substantive one-on-one conversations with volunteers, getting their questions answered and expressing their desired outcomes for the policy in real time. This was something that struck me as a stark contrast to typical affordable housing policy panel events, where three to four experts talk about the policy followed by a public Q&A (where only those who are comfortable speaking in public tend to speak up). This was a great reminder of the importance of cross-sectoral partnerships where organizations that serve the community’s needs, like SOMOS Mayfair, are central to the policy process. 

As a Partnership for the Bay’s Future Fellow working to strengthen cross-sectoral collaboration between SOMOS Mayfair and the City of San Jose Housing Policy team, I also tabled for this event. Partnership for the Bay’s Future Fellows like myself are embedded within city agencies and provide staff capacity to work on equitable affordable housing policies, while also working to ensure that there are firm bridges between the community’s vision and needs for the policy and the policy making process occurring at City Hall. At the COPA Cumbia, I was able to leverage my unique role where I’ve rapidly developed expertise on COPA to explain the basics of the policy to community members and hear their questions and concerns. The experience of having these one-on-one conversations with community members provoked my own reflections about possibilities for strengthening the bridge between City Hall and the community’s vision for equitable housing solutions.

tabling

What’s Up Next for COPA in San Jose?
COPA will be taken to City Council for a vote in the spring of 2023. In the meantime, SOMOS Mayfair will continue to campaign and grow its base of support for the policy, while the City of San Jose Housing Department will host several additional community meetings in November and early 2023. These events represent opportunities for community members to express their support for the policy, a key element for ensuring that the policy gets passed.

For more information on COPA in San Jose, visit the SOMOS Mayfair’s COPA page and the City of San Jose Housing Department’s COPA page. And if you’re thinking of implementing a similar policy in your city, check out the Opportunity to Purchase Campaign Playbook on the PBF resource page, which provides the building blocks and insights for what it takes to run a successful campaign.

Read More :

East Palo Alto Mobile Park Residents’ Last Shot at Ownership

After spending most of their lives in a neighborhood and homes that have brought them much comfort and joy, Melieni Felmaka Talakai and Germany Fomby are facing the unsettling reality: they might be losing their homes. In the Spring of 2020, Melieni, Germany and their neighbors at Palo Mobile Estates, a mobile park home in East Palo Alto, were notified that the park was undergoing a conversion into a resident-owned park. Though they have a right to remain, their rent is likely to double or more over the next few years. And while residents were given the right of first refusal with a 10% to 20% discount to purchase the lots underneath the homes, they were only given 90 days to raise the money. Most residents could not raise the money on time and have lost the benefit all together.  

It will take close to $20 million to keep all the residents in their homes. Most residents, like Melieni and Germany, own their homes but not the lot under it. Others, who rent their homes, are hoping to purchase both the home and the lot. In 2021, the East Palo Alto City Council appropriated $2 million to help residents of Palo Mobile Estates purchase the lot beneath their homes, but that leaves an $18 million gap that still needs to be raised.  

Germany, a minister of 30 years at Trinity Church in San Mateo, shares his proudest moment, “21 years ago, I purchased my home in Palo Mobile Estates Park, making me one of the first homeowners in my family. I found East Palo Alto’s best kept secret: a thriving, diverse and loving community full of dreamers and passionate individuals, all born of humility and great character. But some of these folks have been forced to move away.” He laments: “They weren’t able to stay. They pulled their roots from right under them. I can’t imagine that happening to my daughter and grandkids, whose survival depends on us being able to stay in our home.”  

East Palo Alto has historically dealt with housing inequalities stemming from policies such as disinvestment in impoverished communities and racist redlining practices. The city is still feeling the impact of that history: in 2019, just 35% of Latinos in East Palo Alto accounted for homeownership, while White homeownership was at 72% and continues to grow, furthering the wealth gap across the city. Additionally, 67% of the city’s Latino tenants are rent burdened (spending more than 30% of their income on rent) compared to 41% of White tenants. 

“We moved into Palo Mobile Estates in 1988 with my late husband and unborn twin girls.” Melieni, a nurse at Ravenswood Health Center, recalls. “I became a mother here. Because of the affordability of my home, I was allowed to invest in my career. I became a nurse and brought free healthcare to East Palo Alto – a community that is historically under resourced.” Melieni co-founded Taulama for Tongans, a volunteer nonprofit that provides health education to the Pacific Islander community. “My family was able to survive my late husband’s passing because I was able to pay the mortgage by myself. Now I fear for the future of my sons. Where will we go? We can lose everything.”  

With a looming rent increase happening in August 2022, Melieni and Germany are hopeful they will soon be approved of a City of East Palo Alto loan. “My sons and I are hopeful,” Melieni said. “But the reality is that the Covid-19 pandemic really hit us hard. We depleted our resources, and our credit scores took a huge hit. We don’t qualify for financial assistance and banks won’t work with us. We have exhausted our options and while we applied for the loan through the city council…It’s so unsettling to know your fate in someone else’s hand.”  

Karen Camacho, who previously served as a Housing Fellow in East Palo Alto as part of the Partnership for the Bay’s Future’s (PBF) Policy Grants program and is now serving as East Palo Alto’s Housing Project Manager, is working to keep these residents in their homes. “We must prioritize raising $20M by August 2022. We have to keep these amazing folks from being displaced. I also grew up in a mobile park Palo Alto and I would not be here today if it weren’t for the community at Buena Vista Mobile Park.” Karen is quick to point out she has not done this work alone and that other community organizations have jumped in to help the residents raise money.  

Vanessa Smith, Community Land Trust Program Manager at East Palo Alto Community Alliance and Neighborhood Development Organization (EPACANDO), also a PBF grant recipient, currently leads the fundraising, resident outreach, and advocacy efforts for Friends of Palo Mobile, a coalition composed of Youth United for Community Action (YUCA), EPACANDO, Preserving Affordable Housing Assets Longer, Inc (PAHALI) community land trust, and PBF grantees. “Amongst advocacy, resident outreach, and technical support,” Vanessa said, “Friends of Palo Mobile are also fundraising for the purchase of lots to stabilize long-term affordability at Palo Mobile Estates. At the root of these efforts is anti-displacement work.”  

“I have built wealth here beyond money,” Melieni said. “I dream of nothing more than to leave this place for my four kids. I have given my children the gift of true financial freedom. But who will save my children if they are not able to stay here”  

Everyone deserves a home. A place where a family like Melieni’s can thrive and be catalysts to the health and growth of our neighborhoods. A place where generations of families, like Germany’s children and grandchildren can continue a legacy. Everyone deserves true financial freedom. A home for many represents generational wealth but most importantly a safe place and future for their children. In order to keep residents of Palo Mobile Estates housed, $20m must be raised in the next two months. To lend your support, please email Duane Bay at dbay@epacando.org or Vanessa Smith at vsmith@epacando.org. 

Read More :

PRESS RELEASE:
New Tool Tracks Bay Area Cities’ Progress Towards Meeting Their Affordable Housing Needs

For Immediate Release: June 26, 2022
Contact: Jordan Shapiro, jshapiro@sff.org, 415.269.0172

The Housing Readiness Report evaluates cities’ affordable housing progress and provides numerous ways for residents to advocate for their communities’ needs.

The Partnership for the Bay’s Future (PBF) is pleased to announce the Housing Readiness Report, an affordable housing tool that provides Bay Area housing advocates with data, resources and tools to track, monitor and engage in their cities’ housing plans and policies to ensure equitable racial and economic outcomes.

How Cities Are Assessed
The Housing Readiness Report was developed to provide easy-to-read details on how impactful the housing crisis is to the Bay Area’s most vulnerable communities and how ready each city is to tackle the crisis. “Housing Readiness,” – a city’s potential ability to increase affordable housing for its most vulnerable populations – is assessed using the following metrics:

  • Local needs: The demographics of an existing city’s population and the percentage of that population who are burdened by rent are assessed to determine housing needs. 
  • Affordable housing production: The city’s capacity and willingness to reach affordable housing unit goals as set by Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA), especially in relation to meeting its existing population demographics. 
  • Housing policies: The number of housing policies and the potential impact of each policy that a city has enacted to protect tenants, and preserve and produce affordable housing. 

“When we began developing this tool,” said Khanh Russo, VP of Policy and Innovation at San Francisco Foundation, “we knew that it needed to be viewed through an equitable lens. All the housing data in the Bay Area shows that Black, Latinx and Native American communities are hit the hardest by increasing housing costs – they spend the highest percentage of their income on rent and as a result are displaced at the highest rates. We knew we had to create a tool that not only raises awareness of this, but also provides a way for people to take part in solving this problem.” 

The Community’s Role
Throughout California, cities are developing policies and programs as well as finding land to develop low-income to market-rate housing to meet their RHNA goals. These local housing plans are developed every eight years and are called the Housing Elements, which also, by law, must include community input. Nobody knows more about the challenges a community faces than the people who live there, so The Housing Readiness Report was timed to be released during this planning process to involve community members and ensure their voices are heard. 

The Housing Readiness Report collected trusted resources from across the Bay Area and assembled them in a way to make it easy for people to get involved in the Housing Elements process. It guides the community members and housing advocates through numerous ways to make an impact, whether they have just 5 minutes, an hour or more to address their community’s needs.  

“We have a once-in-a-decade chance to address current housing problems, invest in our communities, and create better housing options for all,” said Amie Fishman, Executive Director at Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California. “Coming together and speaking up now is the only way to make sure that cities prioritize strong, thriving, equitable communities in this process to set the future for our neighborhoods.” 

Phase 1 of the Report
This release of the Housing Readiness Report was funded by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and is a beta project and the first phase of releases. This phase evaluated 11 cities – including all of the Bay Area’s largest cities – all of which are grantees of PBF’s Policy Grants program, which expedited collecting data. This is a long-term project and plans include expanding the list of cities and adding features in the next phase.

Visit the Housing Readiness Tool at housingreadinessreport.org.

Get Trained
Community members, housing advocates, policymakers and anyone else who is interested in the Housing Readiness Report is invited to attend a training session for the tool on Tuesday, August 23, 10:00 – 11:00 am. Register at bit.ly/HousingReadinessTraining.

About the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA)
Every eight years, the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) develops RHNA goals – a set number of new homes and how affordable those homes need to be that regions must build in order to meet local housing needs of people at all income levels. Once the regional RHNA goals are set, each region’s “council of governments” (in the Bay Area, this is the Association of Bay Area Governments) allocates the housing needs amongst all cities and counties within the region. If cities and counties do not meet these housing goals, they will not receive certain types of state funding. 

About Partnership for the Bay’s Future
PBF is an innovative and collaborative effort guided by racial equity and economic inclusion to protect tenants in affordable homes while preserving and producing affordable homes to meet the region’s needs. PBF is composed of the Policy Grants supporting the creation and implementation of policies to stem the tide of displacement of vulnerable tenants and preserving affordable housing, and the Family of Loan Funds focused which invests in increasing the supply of affordable homes. The Housing Readiness Report is one of many tools PBF is developing to advance housing justice in the Bay Area; other tools include:

About Chan Zuckerberg Initiative
CZI was founded to help solve some of society’s toughest challenges – from eradicating disease and improving education, to addressing the needs of our local communities – to build a more inclusive, just, and healthy future for everyone. Across its focus areas – science, education, community and alongside its Justice & Opportunity Partners – CZI pairs technology with grantmaking, impact investing, and collaboration to help accelerate the pace of progress towards an equitable future. 

Read More :