We all deserve a decent place to live. It’s a matter of basic justice and a measure of who we are as a community, but generations of exclusionary policies and institutional racism have created an unjust housing system that falls hardest on Black, Indigenous, and other people of color. Philanthropic organizations increasingly find that California’s housing crisis fundamentally undermines their ability to achieve their core missions. That is because having a stable, affordable home impacts our health, ability to find and keep a job, success at school, and connection to our communities.
There is a path forward, and it’s not one size fits all. No one sector, city, or county can tackle it alone. We can be proud of our progress over the past few years, building broad coalitions that can secure legislative victories, invest in affordable housing, and support advocacy and power-building work. That is why NCG and the San Francisco Foundation partnered to host Pathways to Housing Justice, a three-part series.
The opening session, All Roads Lead to Housing, focused on how housing intersects with other critical social issues like health, economic opportunity, and education. It brought together experts from diverse issue areas who highlighted how housing intersects with and influences crucial facets of life. Some of the panelists’ organizations have shifted resources into advocating for affordable housing because the crisis compromised their ability to meet their core organizational mission. Speakers emphasized the importance of adopting a holistic approach to housing justice and addressing the systemic issues at the root of housing disparities, such as redlining and discriminatory policies.
- Pastor Paul Bains, Founder & Chairman, United Hope Builders
- Rajib Guha, Director of Program Development, James Irvine Foundation
- Madelyn Adams, Senior Director of Community Health, Kaiser Permanente
- Khanh Russo, VP of Policy & Innovation, San Francisco Foundation (moderator)
The second session, Charting a Course for Effective Housing Policy, focused on regional and statewide housing justice policy opportunities. It brought together policy experts and advocates to discuss the current political situation and opportunities in charting a course toward just and sustainable housing solutions. Speakers highlighted the need to view housing policy through a broader lens, considering its implications on racial equity, economic stability, and overall community well-being. Speakers also shared insights on how effective policies can support evidence-based practices and innovative solutions.
- Margaretta Wan-Ling Lin, Executive Director, Just Cities Institute
- Jennifer Martinez, PhD, Policy Director, Housing Affordability, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative
- Christine Tien, Senior Program Manager, The California Endowment
The third session, Accelerating Action for Housing Justice, focused on how to get involved in housing advocacy and power-building opportunities. Panelists discussed the need for rapid and transformative action to counter housing inequities. Panelists emphasized the need to fund community power-building efforts, collaboration, and cross-sector partnerships, highlighting the need to bring together various stakeholders, including government agencies, nonprofits, and philanthropic organizations. Panelists shared real-world success stories and innovative initiatives aimed at making housing more accessible and affordable.
- Alex Desautels, Director, Programs and Partnerships, The California Endowment
- Lorena Melgarejo, Executive Director, Faith in Action Bay Area
- Jazmín Segura, Director, Fund for An Inclusive California, Fund for an Inclusive California
- Khanh Russo, Vice President of Policy and Innovation, The San Francisco Foundation
The “Pathways to Housing Justice” series underscored the critical need for swift and effective action to address the housing crisis. By uniting stakeholders, learning from successful endeavors, and driving tangible change, the event set a clear course toward a future where housing is a right for all, not a privilege.
Building on the success of this series, SFF and NCG will continue to partner and engage funders on the path forward.