From Being a Statistic to a Part of the Housing Solution

From Being a Statistic to a Part of the Housing Solution

Partnership for the Bay’s Future (PBF) is an SFF initiative to advance housing solutions. PBF works to produce, preserve, and protect affordable homes in the Bay Area, and to ensure our region remains a diverse place where all people are welcome and can thrive. Elisa Orona is the new Senior Director for the Partnership for the Bay’s Future and recently shared a blog about her experience and why she is excited to join the PBF team.

A portion is excerpted below:

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.

Read more about Elisa’s story.

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