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Catalyst Housing Fund Attracts New Investor

By Elliot Schrage, VP Corporate Communications & Public Policy

Silicon Valley has a remarkable energy that makes it a great place to live and work. Though the region is thriving in many ways, our community clearly needs more affordable places to live. That’s why we’re working alongside our neighbors to increase affordable housing in the Bay Area.

In 2016, we announced a partnership with Envision Transform Build and the cities of East Palo Alto and Menlo Park to create regional solutions to the affordable housing crisis. A pillar of the partnership was to create the Catalyst Housing Fund with an initial investment of $18.5 million to pursue innovative and scalable ways to increase the construction and protection of affordable housing. In August 2017, we announced Local Initiatives Support Corporation and Housing Trust Silicon Valley would manage the fund and leverage our initial investment to as much as $75 million.

New partners will help solve the housing crisis through this unique partnership. Today, we are pleased to announce The San Francisco Foundation (TSFF) is contributing $1 million to the Catalyst Housing Fund.

With more than $1.4 billion in assets, The San Francisco Foundation (TSFF) is one of the largest community foundations in the country. For 70 years, the foundation has been dedicated to serving the Bay Area in its many roles — civic leader, advocate, grantmaker, philanthropic partner, and convener. The foundation has a long history in affordable housing; and through its grantmaking pathways — People, Place, and Power — the foundation is working to ensure that everyone has a chance at full employment, a safe and affordable home, and a strong political voice.

Its grantmaking strategy focuses on racial and economic equity by organizing its work in three pathways: People, Place, Power. These pathways align with the pillars of our community partnership.

We aim to deploy funds in the next five to eight years to accelerate the development of affordable housing in the region. But we’re not waiting until construction starts to make a difference. Since the announcement of the community partnership, the partners have provided $500,000 to Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto (CLSEPA) to support Belle Haven and East Palo Alto residents threatened with displacement from evictions or abuse by landlords. The partners have also contributed $250,000 to Rebuilding Together Peninsula to rehabilitate and reconstruct homes in East Palo Alto and Belle Haven.

Through the partnership, we will also address what we can do to increase economic opportunity for our neighbors. For example, last October, we partnered with career and vocational training nonprofit JobTrain to support its apprenticeship program and pair future graduates with jobs on our active construction projects.

Our mission to give people the power to build community has to begin at home in Menlo Park and the surrounding cities. TSFF’s generous investment and the support of new partners will help us continue to support building economic opportunity in Silicon Valley and create regional solutions for affordable housing.