It was a whirlwind of a year, and in the middle of it, we officially launched the Coalition of Housers! Affectionately nicknamed “CoHo,” the network was built to support and develop the next generation of housing leaders in the South Bay. With a focus on junior- to mid-level professionals, or “emerging leaders,” the network includes affordable housing developers and lenders, government employees and legislative staffers, direct service providers, policy analysts and advocates, and more.
Building connections and networking can give us energy, insight, opportunities, and new perspective — all the more important to actively seek during these times. Here are the highlights from 2020:
The first six months of CoHo featured the Careers in Affordable Housing Fireside Chats series with established leaders, interactive workshops on redlining and community land trusts, and social events. From small Zoom gatherings of 10 to dynamic webinars with 70+ attendees, housers across the region participated in candid conversations and professional development. (Fun fact: Even before shelter-in-place, community feedback shaped our intention to include virtual events as a way to provide more accessible learning opportunities — among other things, navigating traffic midday to and from downtown San Jose was not a viable option for everyone. We’d love to hear more about what would make CoHo programs more useful and accessible for you — email us.)
Each month, the CoHo network received The CoHo Connection, a curated newsletter with career development opportunities, news and announcements, and relevant job listings. Stay in the know by subscribing here. (Newsletter archives are available at the end of this page.)
In December, we piloted the CoHo Coffee Chats networking program with 26 participants. These one-on-one virtual chats were designed to bring Housers together to discuss working in the affordable housing industry — a conversation with a relative stranger that might have come about more organically at in-person events. The pilot received two thumbs up from participants, so the second round of Coffee Chats is coming your way next month!
Behind the scenes of all this was the CoHo Working Group, an all-volunteer crew from across the industry. Members of the Working Group served as lead conveners and ambassadors for the Coalition, and met regularly to plan trainings, events, communications, and projects. With six months under our belt, there’s a lot in store for 2021! (Are you interested in joining the Working Group? Keep an eye out for recruitment later this year.)
When we first started brainstorming what CoHo could look like, we were excited by the possibilities for connection, personal and professional growth, and learning. In Fall 2019, after hosting participatory design workshops to shape the program, we were even more curious to see where all the ideas and energy would lead us. The past six months of programs are only the start. We’re looking forward to continuing to collaborate with each of you — emerging and established leaders alike — as we shape the future of CoHo and our industry.