Investing in community-led real estate infrastructure is a powerful strategy that promotes the security of place, creates affordability, builds wealth, and supports Black and Brown leadership of community real estate development. Community-based developers and developers of color have long faced barriers to capital, while private real estate investing firms are able to amass billions in capital to buy up distressed assets. Today, we can reimagine land and housing by using an array of investment strategies to expand community ownership, enable community-led investment decisions and build community wealth. Join us to learn about innovative community-based real estate efforts from across the state that are preserving low-income communities of color, decommodifying housing, and promoting community empowerment. We’ll discuss the variety of impact investing tools foundations can use to support community ownership of community assets.
Faizah Barlas, Director of Finance and Operations, Beverly-Vermont Community Land Trust
Faizah Barlas oversees the organizational development, property management coordination, and property acquisitions coordination as the Operations Manager at the Beverly-Vermont Community Land Trust (BVCLT). Prior to joining BVCLT, Faizah was a master’s student at NYU Wagner and spent her final year as a consultant for NYU Marron Institute of Urban Management and Build Baton Rouge (BBR), creating a Community Land Trust and Community Land Bank governance model policy toolkit. Faizah has expertise in housing policy and development, financial management, developing equitable internal systems, and providing direct supportive services to marginalized communities in immigration, criminal justice, and housing advocacy. She received her Masters in Public Administration (MPA) with a focus in Public Policy Analysis from NYU Wagner Graduate School of Public Service and her Bachelors of Arts (BA) degree from UC Berkeley. In her spare time, Faizah enjoys hiking, camping, and trying new restaurants.
Cat Howard, President, Community Vision
Cat has more than 25 years of experience designing and executing community development programs with a focus on lending and grantmaking. She has worked at both national and regional CDFIs, and has a background in affordable housing and healthy food access. She currently serves on the board of directors of California FarmLink. Cat holds a BA in government from the University of Maryland Honors Program, from which she graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa and a Masters in City Planning from UC Berkeley. A native of Washington, DC, she is also a third generation Oakland resident, and proud of her bi-coastal heritage.
Ojan Mobedshahi, Finance Director, Treasurer of the Board
Ojan is a 2nd generation Iranian American, born and raised in the Bay Area. He has experience in healthy land use spans landscape design, restoration and education, real estate brokerage, construction and development, and political organizing. Ojan lives in a co-op in Oakland and is also a landscape contractor and regenerative permaculture designer. You can reach Ojan at email@example.com.
Gregorio “Goyo” Ortiz-Muñoz, Community Development Choreographer, Casa Familiar Inc.
Gregorio Ortiz, is the Community Development Choreographer at Casa Familiar, a community-based organization in San Ysidro a community of San Diego on the Tijuana/ San Diego border.
Goyo’s a community advocate role manages the intersection between local government agencies and the community of San Ysidro. His role is to coordinate and gather support for the advance of our Community land trust housing development. Casa Familiar has a holistic approach towards development, coordinating environmental, transportation, and economic justice with our projects. This is an ongoing project that involves direct coordination with artists, city officials, local residents, and the San Ysidro community at large. Our facilities serve as both anchors and links between local government agencies and community voices. He engages both of these groups in order to propose and develop mutually beneficial and creative solutions to the San Ysidro community needs. As the Project manager of the Cultural Corridor, He forms creative ways to integrate Casa Familiar’s services for an equitable vision of San Ysidro’s development.
He is a true border citizen, Born and raised in Tijuana living back and forth between LA, and San Diego throughout his youth. Well aware of the broader border region of LA/SD/TJ, his interests revolve around conditions of temporality, transformation, and adaptation in the built environment. He has a background in Architecture and Urban Planning, has worked in architectural design and development firms in California and the North East US. As well as an adjunct professor at several universities in the San Diego/ Tijuana region.