News: Palo Alto explores new policies to help tenants

Rental protection policies have been items of great interest to Palo Alto City Councilmembers for years and are therefore the focus of the Palo Alto Challenge Grant team. The policy package described in the article below came together through months of discussions with renters and service providers, thanks to coordination with community partner SV@Home and new local organization Palo Alto Renters Association (PARA). The renter protection package works to improve access for renters from a variety of different standpoints and is currently being discussed with the Planning and Transportation Commission (PTC), an important stop along the way to City Council discussion planned for summer 2021. This article unpacks some of the discussion held at the last public meeting, during which three policies were reviewed. A continuation of that conversation will be held at today’s (Wednesday, April 28) PTC meeting at 6pm. – Lauren Bigelow, Palo Alto Challenge Grant Fellow

 

Is Palo Alto ready for rent stabilization? City explores new policies to help tenants

Planning commission supports creating survey, expanding city’s program for assistance

by Gennady Sheyner / Palo Alto Weekly

Seeking to address the plight of low-income residents in a city with famously astronomical rents, Palo Alto is considering a wide range of new programs designed to protect and assist tenants facing displacement.

Some of these programs — including, most notably, rental stabilization — have been brought up in the past, only to fizzle in the face of political opposition. Others, including limits on security deposits that landlords can charge and a “fair chance” ordinance that prohibits discrimination based on criminal backgrounds, would be discussed for the first time.

The wide-ranging effort kicked off on Wednesday night, when the city’s Planning and Transportation Commission unanimously endorsed two new initiatives to support renters: establishing a survey program that would allow the city to track its inventory of rental properties and expanding renter relocation assistance, with a particular focus on the “cost-burdened” households — those that spend more than 30% of their income on rent.

The commission split over a third program: expanding protections for renters facing eviction beyond those already included in Assembly Bill 1482, the 2019 legislation that capped rent increases and, in many cases, prohibited property owners from terminating tenancies without just cause. By a 4-3 vote, with Chair Bart Hechtman, Vice Chair Giselle Roohparvar and Commissioner Michael Alcheck dissenting, the commission voted to recommend extending just-cause protections to properties that had been built within the past 15 years as well as to renters who moved into their residences less than a year ago. Both of these categories are currently exempt from the state bill.

Other ideas that are on the table and that the commission plans to debate in the coming months include enacting rent stabilization and providing tenants with a right to counsel when dealing with eviction. The commission plans to discuss these ideas in the coming months before they go to the City Council for review and approval.

The new push to strengthen tenant protection is, in some ways, a revival of a debate that has proceeded in fits and starts since 2017, when three members of the council — Tom DuBois, Lydia Kou and former council member Karen Holman first proposed in a memo that the city consider rent stabilization and other measures to help renters, who make up 45% of the city’s households. The proposals in the memo, which included a cap on rent increases, were ultimately rejected by the council majority, which strongly opposed any new policies that border on rent control. The most vocal opponents of the proposal were former council members Greg Scharff and Adrian Fine, who argued at one hearing that instituting rent stabilization would “reduce housing availability and decrease housing quality.”

The debate grew more heated in 2018, when the three council members — this time, with support from former council member Cory Wolbach — submitted a new memo with a more modest set of reforms, including better enforcement of the city’s requirement for one-year leases and evaluation of stronger renter-relocation assistance. While the council agreed to study these ideas, they once again rejected an attempt by DuBois and others to reintroduce the topic of rent stabilization for further study.

Now, with Scharff and Fine no longer on the council and DuBois’ political camp enjoying a council majority, the topic of rent protection is set to return to the council agenda. Even though the council agreed in 2018 not to even study rent stabilization, the idea is one of seven that had been identified by the city as worth considering.

Lauren Bigelow, a fellow with Partnership for the Bay who is leading Palo Alto’s effort, outlined on Wednesday the seven strategies that her group believes the city should pursue. In the coming months, she and the city’s planning staff plan to conduct more outreach about these policies to property owners and landlords before the topic is expected to return to the council in late summer.

Some of these policies, including rent stabilization and right to counsel, face high hurdles because of, respectively, political division and high costs. But the commission agreed on Wednesday that others could — and should — be enacted as soon as possible.

The proposed survey is at the top of the list. The commission agreed that creating a registry of rental properties — akin to ones already in place in cities such as Mountain View and East Palo Alto — is critical for gathering data before any new initiatives are enacted. The commission also agreed that the city should pay for the survey rather than funding it through a fee that would be assessed to each rental unit.

“The policies that we ultimately come up with in the city need to be narrowly tailored to address the problem,” Hechtman said. “They don’t need to be broadly tailored to make us feel good.”

Commissioner Ed Lauing called the topic of renter assistance “the most important issue for land use in Palo Alto” and noted that protecting renters is “essential to our community.” According to data provided by Bigelow, 27% of the city’s renter households earn less than $50,000 per year, which creates a significant challenge in a city where the average rent is close to $3,000 per month and where about 14% of rental units are deed-restricted as affordable housing.

And while the overall percentage of “cost-burdened” rental households is at 37%, the rate is higher than 70% in every category where the household income falls under $75,000.

“This is about housing affordability and socioeconomic diversity. This has got to be our top priority,” Lauing said.

The city already has a tenant relocation assistance program that requires property owners to provide between $7,000 (for studios) and $17,000 (for apartments with three or more bedrooms) in assistance to households facing eviction. The program, however, only applies to buildings with 50 or more apartments, which make up about 22% of the city’s rental stock. The proposal that the city is evaluating would expand the range of properties that would be subject to this requirement.

While most commissioners supported the goal of the proposed program, both Roohparvar and Alcheck raised concerns about the unintended consequences of enacting new renter protections. Both worried about situations in which a property owner wants to redevelop the property to create more units but is deterred from doing so by policies that make it cost prohibitive — or procedurally difficult — to vacate the property.

Alcheck said he is deeply concerned about the impacts of any programs that can “make the outlook for future housing development even more bleak.”

“But my hope is that we appreciate this notion that as a city we have failed to address a major problem in our community and as a state we failed to address this very same problem,” Alcheck said. “We’re not addressing housing development, we’re not addressing the homeless situation and — in that vacuum — we’re left with one tool that has lots of consequences.”

Hechtman agreed and suggested that as the city moves to expand its requirements for relocation assistance, it should focus on those with low incomes.

“We really need to be cautious when we lower that threshold because we’re talking about multifamily properties that could potentially redevelop with more units,” Hechtman said. “We need to think about, ‘Are we going to create disincentives for a property owner with five-unit buildings to tear it down and create a 10-unit building if we’re going to burden them with these kinds of costs?'”

Prodded by Hechtman and Alcheck, the commission agreed to focus its expanded relocation-assistance programs on households with low or moderate incomes, rather than basing it on the number of apartments at a given property. Commissioner Bryna Chang also pushed back against suggestions that the new policy will deter redevelopment. A property owner who is evicting tenants as part of a redevelopment project should be able to pay for eviction assistance from the proceeds they will likely net from the additional units, as well as from the higher rent that they would likely charge in the newly built property, she said.

“We want redevelopment and we don’t want to lose housing,” Chang said. “But if someone evicts everyone in order to redevelop, they probably will go denser, so it will pay for itself.

 

Read the full article here.

East Palo Alto Challenge Grant Partners are One Step Closer to Creating a “Placekeepers Co-Op” through the Acquisition of the YUCA Building

 

Just last month, YUCA (Youth United for Community Action), a 27-year-old grassroots organization in East Palo Alto focused on social justice and youth empowerment, was on the verge of being displaced from its yellow adobe brick home of 11 years, after the long-time property owner told YUCA staff that he intended to remodel the house and put it on the market for sale.  

With the incredible support from foundations, philanthropists, and private donors, YUCA was able to fundraise the $1.2M needed to acquire the house.  YUCA is now fundraising an additional $500,000 on GoFundMe to provide much-needed rehabilitation and repairs to the main building and its accessory dwelling unit (ADU). 

This fundraising effort fits within the broader vision listed in East Palo Alto’s Partnership for the Bay’s Future Challenge Grant. The Challenge Grants bringlocal changemakerstogether to work on housing policies that protect tenants and preserve existing affordable housing. One of the East Palo Alto Challenge Grant goals is to launch a preservation model centered on a Community Land Trust (CLT) to acquire, rehabilitate, and redevelop properties.  

The East Palo Alto Challenge Grant partners identified the YUCA site at 2135 Clarke Ave2,692 sq ft single-family home property that holds a historical significance in the community as an intergenerational center for organizing, learning, and healingas one of the pilot projects to acquire buildings and retain that building’s affordability under a community land trust 

Challenge Grant partners EPACANDO (East Palo Alto Community Alliance and Neighborhood Development Organization) and PAHALI (Preserving Affordable Housing Assets Longterm, Inc.) community land trust are working with YUCA to complete the acquisition and ensure permanent affordability and community stewardship of the site.  

While EPACANDO has pledged a $250,000 loan toward the purchase of the YUCA site, it has also committed to providing technical assistance for the future production of an additional ADU, for a total of two ADU’s on the site 

EPACANDO has a 30-year track record of helping expand affordable housing and is currently administering the City of East Palo Alto’s below market rate ownership program. EPACANDO’s new CANDO ADU program is helping homeowners get ADUs by offering free ADU lot assessments, financial counseling, and permitting, construction, and leasing support. Three pilot ADUs are now breaking ground under the CANDO ADU program, and a new ADU on the YUCA site could be the next pilot project if enough funding is secured. 

What makes the YUCA ADU pilot project unique is PAHALI’s commitment to keeping the site’s ADU permanently affordable through community stewardship. This site will serve as the inaugural “placekeepers co-op, ultimately comprising more than 20 scattered-site ADUs for cooperative shareholding members 

PAHALI is a 25-year-old community land trust whose mission is placekeeping for local placekeepers; serving the region and focusing on East Palo Alto. “Pahali” is a Swahili word that means “place.” The name is an intentional reference to African-American roots of the community land trust movement in the United States and to the African-American leadership of the establishment of self-governance for East Palo Alto residents.   

“Black and indigenous communities have already identified community stewardship as a vision for community healing and prosperity, so it is important for us to listen and act on these teachings,” said Ofelia Bello, Youth United for Community Action Executive Director and PAHALI Board Chair.   

To that end, PAHALI aims to address the barriers to homeownership by holding land in a community land trust and conveying affordable housing to a cooperative of placekeepers of East Palo Alto. These placekeepers include low-income, multiracial, multi-ethnic, and multi-generational East Palo Alto residents who are facing housing instability and who would greatly benefit from becoming stewards of their own community.

One of these placekeepers is Leonora Martinez, whose story has been widely shared and illustrates the role community land trusts can play in keeping residents rooted and civically engaged in East Palo Alto. Leonora has been able to develop her leadership skills serving on the PAHALI board. 

The scattered-site ADU placekeepers co-op” pilot that closely couples the community land trust and youth leadership development may be the first of its kind in the Bay Area.  

A project of this magnitude, however, will require enough flexible acquisition capital to pay for other rapid-response land acquisitions, as well as enough gap permanent financing to keep the land affordable if it must be acquired at near-market price 

In the November 2020 election, East Palo Alto Challenge Grant partners and local community leaders attempted to pass a hotel tax to fund affordable housing acquisition, redevelopment, and rehabilitation. Although the attempt fell just short of the two-thirds threshold needed to pass, advocates are not losing hope to bring this back to the voters 

In the meantime, East Palo Alto Challenge Grant partners are appealing to private funders to help with the acquisitions.

The YUCA site will serve as the first, but not the last, of this “placekeepers co-op” in East Palo Alto. It honors both YUCA and PAHALI’s missions to ensure that homegrown leadership continues to help steward the present and future of East Palo Alto, by putting youth at the forefront.  

With this partnership, YUCA is proving that youth are not just the promise of the future, but all the possibilities of the present,” Bello said. 

Funders like the Grove Foundation, the San Francisco Foundation, and several individuals, family foundations, and community foundations have identified the tremendous need for creating affordable homeownership opportunities in communities impacted by our history of racist housing and land use laws. One of these communities is East Palo Altowhich currently houses a majority of residents who are low-income, people of color facing high housing cost burdensMost importantly, they are seeing the importance of youth empowerment in the housing and community ownership movement. 

Community land trusts, and the placekeepers co-op in particular, show the power of collaboration and community over the long haulThe San Francisco Foundation is proud to support this work and the possibilities this pilot represents said Aysha Pamukcu, Policy Fund Initiative Officer for the Partnership for the Bay’s Future. 

After all, intergenerational stewardship of land requires intergenerational leadership development. 

Centering Equity in Housing – Convening Review

On March 21, 2021 we had an unprecedented opportunity — amidst a global pandemic and a national reckoning with racial injustice — to join together to discuss the reimagination of our housing system and to prioritize solutions with equity at the core. Specifically,  solutions that recognize and dismantle centuries of exclusionary policies and practices that have created socially and economically segregated neighborhoods, created or prevented wealth building, and made Black and brown populations more vulnerable to crises of all kinds.

The convening brought together affordable housing practitioners, thought leaders, and experts to learn and share ideas on housing policies and innovations that center racial equity. Sessions explored topics like small-scale projects that are advancing housing equity efforts locally, how to build community power through narrative, equity-based policy models, and more.

The following sessions took place live during the event:

Introducing the Partnership for the Bay’s Future

Welcome Remarks and Keynote

Join Khanh Russo, Senior Director for the Partnership for the Bay’s Future, and Cindy Wu, Executive Director for LISC Bay Area, for welcoming remarks in the Centering Equity in Housing Convening, followed by a keynote from David Williams, Policy Outreach Director at Opportunity Insights.

David discusses his work at the intersection of equity and policy, including Creating Moves to Opportunity, a national housing mobility initiative. Introduction to the keynote is by Ruby Bolaria-Shifrin, Director of Housing Affordability at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.

Main Stage Panel

Affordable homes for Black and Brown households continue to languish behind the national average. New economic hardship triggered by the pandemic compounds historic challenges to marginalized communities. In this context, housing stakeholders are working toward equitable housing policies and wealth-building opportunities for all households, especially for low-income households of color.

Hear perspectives from the Partnership for the Bay’s Future Policy Fund and Family of Loan Funds about creating more equitable housing opportunities.

Featured speakers include Aysha Pamukcu, Policy Fund Initiative Officer, Partnership for the Bay’s Future and Asha Rao, Senior Director of Investments for Bay Area LISC. Moderated by Molly Solomon, KQED’s Housing Reporter and Co-host of the Housing podcast, Sold Out: Rethinking Housing in America.

Session A – Big Impact, Small Scale

Session A panel highlights the big wins we can make preserving tenant-occupied rental housing and shines a light on how cities and funders can deepen their support for this high-impact affordable housing solution. It is a conversation between organizations working in different counties to see what we can learn and build on each other’s wins.

Featured panelists include Karoleen Feng, Community Real Estate Director, MEDA, and Aubra Levine, Real Estate Development Director, the Unity Council. Moderated by Aboubacar Ndiaye, Partnership for the Bay’s Future Challenge Grant Fellow.

Session B – Community Power Through Narrative

Session B panel highlights ways we can come together to support housing reform by leveraging the power of narrative and storytelling. Here we discuss strategies to build long-lasting public support for housing.

Featured speakers include Dr. Tiffany Manuel (Dr.T), Founder, President, and CEO of TheCaseMade and RyanNicole Austin, Grammy-nominated MC and Poet and award-winning Artist, Actress, Athlete, and Activist. Moderated by Anna Cash, Partnership for the Bay’s Future Challenge Grant Fellow.

Session C – Advancing Housing Justice Policies

Session C panelists share their experiences in developing cohesive local policies that protect families and individuals burdened by high rents and preserve and produce affordable housing. They discuss how to center marginalized voices for effective, inclusive policy-making that enables Bay Area residents to remain in their communities.

Featured speakers include Ofelia Bello, Executive Director of YUCA in East Palo Alto, and Jennifer Pearce, Housing and Community Development Manager of Alameda County. Moderated by Karen Camacho, Partnership for the Bay’s Future Challenge Grant Fellow.

Closing Remarks

Camille Llanes-Fontanilla, Executive Director SOMOS Mayfair, leads the closing of the Partnership for the Bay’s Future Centering Equity in Housing Convening.

SOMOS Mayfair supports children, organizes families, and connects neighbors to uplift the dreams, power, and leadership of community and address systemic inequities.

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Local Strategies to Protect Tenants and Prevent Homelessness in Bay Area

 

We know that Cities and nonprofit partners are in the process of designing and implementing rental assistance programs as we respond to the devastation caused by the pandemic.

In support of those efforts, All Home and Bay Area Regional Health Inequities Initiative (BARHII) co-wrote: Local Strategies to Protect Tenants and Prevent Homelessness in Bay Area COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Programs (ERAPs), sponsored by the Partnership for the Bay’s Future. The goal of this tool is to support local government partners, non-profit service providers and community advocates in their program design and determining the program details of their rental assistance efforts.

We hope this is helpful resource for you.

Find the working paper here.

Challenge Grant Spotlight: Redwood City

Photo from Climate Magazine

The Challenge Grants bring local changemakers together to work on housing policies that protect tenants and preserve existing affordable housing. In the face of the challenges of COVID and virtual work, the Challenge Grant cohort has been incredibly adaptive and resilient, finding new ways to advance housing justice policies. Together, this community of practice is laying the groundwork for equitable housing policy throughout the Bay Area, starting at the local level.  

We’ve learned a lot from the first year of this program and are spotlighting some of the incredible work happening across the Bay Area. This post is part of an ongoing series that will share some of the highs and lows of what we are learning along the way, as well as what we’re getting ready for in 2021. 

To hear more about this work and receive information on future grant opportunities, sign up for our newsletter here

Progress through Inclusive Collaboration in Redwood City 

Brandon Harrell

Redwood City’s Challenge Grant team has made incredible progress in implementing tenant protection policies and creating a preservation strategy that will leverage local and regional partnerships. Part of the City’s success can be attributed to its emphasis on collaboration, process, and inclusion.

The core team—which includes Redwood City staff, myself, and our community partner Legal Aid Society of San Mateo Countykicked off 2020 with a series of power mapping and long-term strategy sessions which included identifying key stakeholders and clearly defining their two areas of emphasis: tenant protections and multi-family housing preservation.

Preservation and Protection Strategies 

The Challenge Grant team has worked to broaden their leadership table and center community voice. As part of this effort, the team partnered with the City’s Housing & Human Concerns Committee (HHCC) which is comprised of City Council-appointed community members. The HHCC has formed two ad hoc subcommittees to help guide the tenant protection policies and housing preservation work. This ensures that community voice is a consistent focus.

The Redwood City team is currently working with the subcommittees to shape the long-term policy goals of Redwood City as well as crafting authentic community engagement strategies that are adapted to the COVID-19 contextThe subcommittees have shared insightful research on Redwood City’s housing stock, provided feedback on digital resources for tenants and landlord collaborated with me on community survey content, and made critical recommendations to our overall strategy. 

The Challenge Grant work has also included tenant protection policy implementation and providing additional resources to aid tenants in the time of COVID-19. For example, when I first arrived in Redwood City, we faced the daunting reality that, due to employee turnover and capacity constraints, the tenant protection ordinances that had been adopted the year prior were never fully implemented. On top of that, many landlords and tenants were calling our office with questions about our tenant protection ordinances – noting that our website was less than helpful in understanding the policies.  

In an effort to make our housing policies more accessible and improve Redwood City’s overall communication to tenants and landlords, during the time of COVID-19, I worked closely with the City’s communication team to redesign the City’s housing webpages to be user-centered. The foundational elements of the user-centered redesign were to create an accessible web interface that is both easily navigable and translated into Spanish 

Bringing Additional Community Partners to the Table 

The Redwood City Challenge Grant team has also engaged with additional community partners. This year, the team will be partnering with the Peninsula Conflict Resolution Center (PCRC) and Faith In Action to help facilitate and deepen the City’s relationship with tenants and landlords.  

As a San Mateo County serving nonprofit, PCRC has earned a reputation for empowering individuals to build relationship, trust and mutually agreeable outcomes through some of the most difficult conversations facing the Bay Area and the world. PCRC has been a long-time partner with the City and most recently led the community through a series of conversations on policing, governmental accountability, and equitybuilding community trust along the way.  

Faith In Action, a network of congregations and community leaders, are long time tenant rights advocates and have been engaging Redwood City’s tenants for a number of years. 

Continuing to Center Community Voice in 2021 

It is through developing and deepening these inter-institutional relationships that Redwood City’s Challenge Grant team envisions developing sustainable, effective housing policiesensuring that the voices of tenants and landlords are the foundation of the City’s housing policies. We look forward to seeing how these complex projects equitably influence the housing landscape for Redwood City. 

Relationships Drive Progress and Knowledge Sharing Among Challenge Grant Cohort

Last month, the Challenge Grant cohort of housing justice champions from across the Bay Area came together to discuss their policy efforts in tenant protection and affordable housing preservation. This convening comes at the end of almost a year of working toward policy goals during an unprecedented time.

When we started this work, no one could have imagined we would launch this experimental policy collaboration between government, nonprofit leaders, and community while fighting the twin pandemics of COVID-19 and racism. Even in the most favorable circumstances, passing equitable policies is the result of months and often years of organizing and hard work. These wins require building robust networks of strong relationships, knowledge sharing, and cross-sector support. The Challenge Grant convenings have provided space to do just that.

As the Challenge Grant cohort looks toward the second year of collaboration, coming together presented an opportunity to take stock of progress, troubleshoot common issues, and plan for continuing the momentum of year one. In this fourth convening, we celebrated the progress of two of our Challenge Grant sites: San Jose and Alameda County.

Working to Prevent COVID and Displacement in San Jose

The San Jose team shared some major milestones from the year, including passing their anti-displacement strategy, which was supported by Challenge Grant Fellow Aboubacar “Asn” Ndiaye and community partner SOMOS Mayfair. Other important milestones from the year included winning a grant for a pilot preservation program, creating a community engagement plan, and mobilizing for emergency response during COVID-19.

“We started this in the middle of a plague,” said Asn. “Our response was focused on: how do you start a program in the middle of an emergency?” Early responses to the pandemic included direct aid and rental cash support. Asn expressed hope that the experience, “while difficult and traumatic, will help bind our organizations to work toward long term structural changes.”

One of the San Jose team’s observations was that state legislation will be helpful for a successful Community Opportunity to Purchase Act (COPA) policy. Unlike specific groups such as the elderly or teachers, people who are in jeopardy of being displaced are not currently recognized by California as a population eligible for certain types of state housing funds. If state legislation recognized those at risk of being displaced as eligible for these kinds of funds, that would allow for more local action, including prioritizing these residents’ applications to affordable apartments through new local tenant preferences.

One of the City’s priorities for 2021 will be to plan for the transition from meeting urgent community needs due to COVID-19 to creating an equitable community recovery plan that focuses on enhanced employment pathways with housing and supportive services for lower-income residents. The plan will fold in equity analysis and feedback from the community on their needs.

Centering Community Voice in Alameda County

The Alameda County team also reflected on overcoming difficulties, especially the challenges involved in trying to pass equitable housing policies that benefit the county’s diverse unincorporated areas. As a bright spot, the team pointed to successes in using community knowledge and expertise to guide the way.

Leo Esclamado from Resources for Community Development (RCD) said, “Our tenants live in constant fear not to shake the boat, so we came together in a small-but-mighty, very powerful Eden Renter’s Union to say what the community needed—and this was our gold standard.”

Similarly, Challenge Grant Fellow Charles Harris shared, “I wasn’t coming in and teaching anyone about solutions or telling them what they should do, but rather listening to hear about the solutions they already have.”

Alameda County’s partnership with RCD has been significant in moving forward important work in the unincorporated area, such as developing a three-part community-driven strategy to help renters. The strategy includes a proactive rental inspection program to enforce health and safety standards for rental units, rent stabilization measures, and a just cause protection expansion.

Two of the year’s big accomplishments have been the creation of a steering committee focused on moving forward preservation strategies for the unincorporated area and the creation of a policy matrix that lists existing policies and protections, as well as where gaps exist and how those gaps could be filled. Charles is working on a report to summarize this matrix and related conversations.

Throughout the work, the Alameda County team continues to center equity metrics to measure their success. “It’s not how much it costs, but how much does it cost to not do it?” said Leo.

Coming together and looking ahead

The convening not only showcased the excellent work of two Challenge Grant teams, but also demonstrated the strength of the relationships that have developed over the past year and the power of collaboration. The presentations sparked a lot of engagement from the cohort, including many questions and observations about facing similar issues, as well as sharing support and resources from their different communities.

No one strategy or jurisdiction will solve the housing crisis on its own. It’s clear we’ll need the collective wisdom of government and community leadership. We know that it takes a vibrant network of diverse, dedicated folks to create meaningful policy change. As we look toward the second year of this program, the Challenge Grant cohort is poised to build on a foundation of powerful and enduring relationships. The team is eager to continue to adapt and meet the moment to advance protection and preservation policies.

“It’s motivating to me to be in these spaces,” said Matt Gustafson from SOMOS Mayfair. “So much of this work is relational.”