If five pending tenant-protection proposals become ordinances in Palo Alto, it will mark a triumphant culmination of a partnership between the City and SV@Home that started more than 36 months ago with a proposal for an innovative grant program sponsored by the Partnership for the Bay’s Future.
The Challenge Grants for Protection and Preservation supports policy development by bringing local government and community partners to the same table to facilitate collaboration and drive the adoption of equitable ordinances and programs. The Palo Alto partnership was one of seven grants in the Bay Area.
A vital piece of the Challenge Grant partnership was Palo Alto fellow, Lauren Bigelow, who was assigned to this effort. She is a mid-career fellow who worked full-time for two years to facilitate and drive the process. She assumed the tasks of:
- Implementing a robust community outreach and education process:
- Pulling together data outlining the triggers of housing instability;
- Collecting best practices on a menu of policy solutions and;
- Keeping the focus on racial and economic equity for renters in Palo Alto.
The collaboration moved several policies forward and supported the formation of the Palo Alto Renters Association (PARA), a group of community members focused on renters’ rights and increasing renters’ voices in the civic landscape. Throughout the grant period, both the fellows and the partners from all seven sites came together as a cohort to exchange insights and experiences.
We believe the Challenge Grant program was a real breakthrough in Palo Alto because we sustained momentum behind the policy push and built trust between the City and community partners. The Partnership for the Bay’s Future recently released a full review and evaluation of the program, including an assessment of the process for each of the seven sites. To learn more, see the evaluation of the program here.
One of the goals of the Challenge Grant was to develop policy templates that could be shared with other jurisdictions around the region. In this spirit, SV@Home used the work from this grant to submit letters to most of the cities in Santa Clara County about anti-displacement and renter-protection policies to Affirmatively Further Fair Housing (AFFH) in their Housing Elements. You can view the letter here.
SV@Home produced a Housing Action Coalition (HAC) event about tenant protections and its Challenge Grant work in Palo Alto last January. If you’d like a refresher, the link to the YouTube recording is here. We have also been tracking the progress of the Challenge Grant program in San Jose, one of the partnerships focused on developing a Community Opportunity to Purchase Act (COPA) preservation program. We dedicated our HAC segment in February to that policy effort. A link to the YouTube recording of the COPA HAC can be found here, and a link to the session conducted in Spanish is here.
This work for SV@Home and Palo Alto continues to move through the policymaking and adoption process, and it’s exciting to see the fruits of our collective efforts over the past many months.
Palo Alto was one of seven Challenge Grant sites throughout the Bay Area. Throughout the grant period, both the fellows and the partners came together as a cohort to exchange insights and experiences. The Partnership for the Bay’s Future website recently released a full review and evaluation of the pilot program. To see more information about this program and others, click this link.
Our participation in these creative partnerships will continue with a new policy development partnership with the City of Mountain View and the Housing Trust of Silicon Valley, supported by a new competitive program from The Partnership for the Bay’s Future – the Break Through Grant. Look for updates on this new work in the months ahead.