All In On Housing

All In On Housing

At SFF, we are working to build a Bay Area where people of all races and backgrounds can thrive in affordable and vibrant communities.

The ongoing housing affordability crisis puts this vision out of reach for many families, particularly families of color, who are hit the hardest by increasing housing costs and are being pushed out of Bay Area communities. According to the Bay Area Equity Atlas:

  • Families with two minimum-wage workers can only afford rent in five percent of Bay Area neighborhoods.
  • More than half of California’s renters have unaffordable housing costs.
  • Black and Latinx Californians are most likely to live in unaffordable housing and are being displaced from their homes and communities at alarming rates.

Together with our partners, we are all in on housing because creating a racially just and economically inclusive Bay Area requires affordable homes for all.

“We cannot make meaningful progress toward inclusive prosperity in the region without addressing the housing crisis.”

SFF CEO Fred Blackwell
Fred Blackwell, CEO of the San Francisco Foundation

Our Approach

After extensive research and broad community engagement, we know what needs to be done. There are no silver bullets, and we will use all the tools at our disposal to solve this problem. The following principles guide our approach:

Housing is a racial justice issue

Whether it is restrictive covenants, redlining, or the racially charged mortgage schemes of the 2000s, racist policies and practices are the root cause of housing inequities. Communities of color are being pushed out of our region and face skyrocketing rates of homelessness. We need equitable solutions that directly address this reality.

Housing is a regional issue

Bay Area communities are deeply connected, and we cannot address a region-wide issue by working in silos. We need regional solutions. We work with communities and organizations of all sizes across the region.

Systems change and innovation are critical

Our housing crisis is rooted in systems, not individual choices. To achieve the scale of change we need, we must change the rules of the game. We are working to create a policy environment that supports innovation and equity-focused solutions. We need flexible approaches, not rules, systems, and practices that obstruct solutions.

Supporting communities of color

We invest deeply in the power and leadership of communities of color because those most impacted are also closest to the answers. Listening to those impacted will help address the region’s most pressing needs. Building power in those communities will help sustain the movement over time.

Partnership and collaboration are essential

We work with partners from across the region and sectors to build a future that works for everyone. Together we work on comprehensive solutions and a reimagining of our communities. We bring together donors, faith leaders, policymakers, researchers, communities, community leaders, and funders (both philanthropic and corporate) to build a sustainable and equitable Bay Area where everyone can thrive.

Housing impacts all other issues

No matter the issue, housing costs are creating challenges across the Bay Area and California. Housing affordability impacts education when teachers cannot afford to live in their communities. Economic development suffers when industry cannot attract employees. Our racial justice work is set back when housing costs push communities of color out of the Bay Area. Solving the housing crisis will help solve many other issues.

Our Strategy

The 3P’s Framework

Overall, we focus on three well-established and interwoven strategies to create comprehensive housing solutions:


Protect renters and prevent homelessness for those who need stable housing and relief from rising rents.


Preserve and rehabilitate already affordable homes so they are not lost to the speculative market.


Produce new homes with racial equity, belonging, and affordability as our guiding influences. 

Our Impact

We are working on housing through several different paths. Our complementary array of housing-focused programs, grantmaking, investments, and initiatives build toward large-scale and long-term solutions. 

At the local level, we invest for impact, make place-based grants, and administer locally-focused programs and initiatives. We support partnerships and collaboration at the neighborhood, city, and county levels. We help keep families in their neighborhoods, preserve affordable housing, and build community wealth.

Impact Investing

We use foundation and donor funds to provide aligned nonprofits and social enterprises with access to low-interest, long-term loans to expand their housing activities.

Bay Area Community Impact Fund Expansion
Bay Area Community Impact Fund (BACIF)

BACIF, with respect to housing, provides seed funding and low-interest loans to help build affordable housing projects. BACIF has invested significant capital in housing-related funds and projects. Since 2009, it has made $14 million in housing-related loans, resulting in 6,843 affordable homes for families and individuals.

Place-based Grantmaking

We believe that all Bay Area residents should be able to afford to live in neighborhoods where they feel they belong. We are working with a wide variety of partners to address the region’s housing challenges through advocacy, organizing, and building community power.

Keeping People in their Homes

We help create viable and comprehensive approaches to prevent homelessness. For example, we supported the launch of and helped administer Keep Oakland Housed (KOH) during its pilot phase. Since its launch, KOH has prevented more than 7,200 households from experiencing homelessness and displacement. It distributed over $40 million in financial assistance. In June 2022, KOH was awarded the HUD’s Secretary’s Award for Public-Philanthropic Partnerships. Designed as a three-year pilot, KOH continues its work as a stand-alone program.

Family outside their new home secured through Oakland Community Land Trust
Preserving Housing and Building Community Wealth

The speculative market is displacing communities of color. These communities are losing affordable homes and the opportunities to build wealth as homeowners. We support organizations to acquire and rehabilitate affordable homes, pioneer new ownership models such as land trusts, and support asset- and wealth-building for communities of color in the Bay Area. For example, the Oakland Community Land Trust helps tenants create decision-making structures and tools to manage co-ownership’s physical and financial responsibilities.

Locally-Focused Programs and Initiatives

We support approaches geared toward making deeply localized housing solutions and tackling structural inequities.

Foundation Alliance with Interfaith To Heal Society (FAITHS)

FAITHS supports congregations and faith-based organizations in advocacy and organizing around housing rights, tenant protections, and increasing affordable housing on church-owned properties.


HOPE SF is developing vibrant, mixed-income communities in four San Francisco public housing communities while avoiding the mass displacement of original residents. To date, HOPE SF has replaced 535 of the 1900 original units while achieving an average of 80% retention of original residents, a huge improvement over the national average of 25%. HOPE SF centers resident voice, builds community wealth, and supports healthy communities. This public-private partnership includes SFF, the City and County of San Francisco, Enterprise Community Partners, and residents of each HOPE SF site.

At the state and regional level, we advocate for policy and innovation, provide regional and state leadership, and build political and public will for change. We advance the 3Ps – Protection, Preservation, and Production in a way that dismantles structural inequalities and advances housing equity at scale. We support collaboration, fund research and data gathering, convene leaders and communities, and support aligned organizations and coalitions with our grantmaking.

Policy & Innovation Initiatives

We lead initiatives focused on developing innovative and community-led policy solutions to the housing crisis.

Partnership for the Bay’s Future (PBF)

PBF is a collaborative effort that advances housing solutions to produce, preserve, and protect affordable homes in the Bay Area and ensure our region remains a diverse place where all people can thrive. The Policy Grant program brings together local governments and community partners to co-create innovative, effective, and equitable housing policies. PBF has resulted in 28 policy proposals to advance the 3Ps and provided support to 73,000 tenants during COVID. PBF’s Family of Loans Fund brings more than $500 million of capital to support affordable housing. It creates innovative new loan products (missing from the market) that nonprofit developers need to preserve and produce affordable housing. To date, it has $348 Million in loans funding nearly 4,000 homes.

Great Communities Collaborative
Great Communities Collaborative (GCC)

GCC works to build a Bay Area with healthy, thriving, and affordable neighborhoods connected to opportunities by premier transit networks. Using a regional frame, this collaboration of funders, nonprofits, and public sector partners develops community-based solutions to address the Bay’s housing, transportation, and climate challenges. They work to ensure that low-income communities and communities of color have a strong voice in shaping a more equitable and sustainable Bay Area.

Regional and State Advocacy

Increasing affordable housing requires regional and state policies and ongoing public funding. We work with our partners to secure public funding and comprehensive housing policy solutions.

Pursuing Comprehensive Policy Solutions

We support the policy solutions we need. For example, we successfully advocated for creating and launching the Bay Area Housing Finance Authority (BAHFA). BAHFA is California’s first regional housing finance authority. It has the potential to raise billions of dollars to address the region’s housing crisis. We have supported the passage of over 30 laws that protect renters, preserve housing affordability, and support the production of affordable homes. We also advocate to ensure that housing is central to any regional COVID recovery efforts.

Building Coalitions

We are helping to forge and support regional and state coalitions of diverse housing advocacy stakeholders. Together, we will build a more robust, coordinated infrastructure, align current campaigns, and push for statewide priorities. We will strengthen connections within and between regions and increase community voice in affordable housing policy.

Supporting Black-led Housing Organizations

We are increasing the depth and breadth of Black-led organizations working on the region’s housing crisis. We focus on affordable housing developers, community development financial institutions (CDFIs), and organizations with local and/or statewide approaches to stabilize Black families in their communities. Key efforts include the Bay Area Black Housing Advisory Taskforce and the Black Developers Forum which recently helped win $112 million state set aside for Black and other contractors of color.

Building Public and Political Will

It will take substantial public and political will to meet the challenges ahead. We collaborate on efforts to build momentum for the housing justice movement through strategies, tactics, and messaging that drive a new narrative about why Bay Area housing is central to racial equity and economic inclusion.

Bay Area Equity Atlas
Bay Area Equity Atlas

The Bay Area Equity Atlas has detailed, reliable data disaggregated by race/ethnicity and other demographics. It tracks 23 equity indicators for 272 geographies/jurisdictions across the Bay Area’s nine-county region. Housing-related indicators track issues such as how the region is expanding affordable housing, increasing neighborhood opportunities, and reducing gentrification and displacement.

Shift the Bay

Shift the Bay is a diverse coalition of housing advocates pushing for housing and racial justice in the Bay Area through a narrative shift. They have developed research-driven and field-practiced strategies, tactics, and messages that change hearts and minds, shift voter attitudes and values, and build political will. The coalition is a diverse range of organizations spanning multiple industries, issues, and audiences.