PVF Awards Facebook
Housing Innovation Fund Grants
By James Higa, Executive Director
PVF, in partnership with Facebook, is awarding $1.5M in grants from The Facebook Housing Innovation Fund to five local organizations. PVF was selected in an RFP process to manage the selection process and administer the Fund. We were chosen for our deep "grassrootsiness" (yes, that’s a technical term!) and innovation acumen to administer this fund. We are delighted to support the ongoing impact of Facebook in this space including their commitment of $1B to address the affordable housing crisis. 

The Fund itself is an innovation. It was thoughtfully considered and conceived. The recommendations from a two-year Facebook funded UC Berkeley study, including participation by high school students in the Y-PLAN program (Youth - Play, Act, Now), served as the north star for what will make the most impact in the production of more affordable housing. The study looked at the myriad of critical issues in affordable housing and recommended to focus on the production of new Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADUs) and Community Land Trusts (CLTs) as the way to have the most impact in this space.

In order to ensure that the voices of the community were heard, a Community Advisory Committee was convened. We placed an emphasis on giving the best ideas, not the most polished Powerpoint, a chance. Over 30 organizations or individuals were interviewed and selected projects were invited to submit an RFP. We congratulate the five high-impact projects selected to receive a Facebook Housing Innovation Fund grant. 

  1. EPACANDO/PAHALI/YUCA: “Placekeeping for the Placekeepers”. Will build two ADUs to be the first units of a decentralized co-op CLT with a leadership development program. Three organizations cooperated on a joint application.
  2. United Hope Builders: Will build a factory in East Palo Alto to manufacture prefab homes. The workforce will come from our communities. The factory workers are themselves the target buyers of the homes that will be built. UHB will be a manufacturing partner and work with faith based organizations and nonprofits. 
  3. City Systems: An open source public goods project to build a showcase demonstration of a new concept in garage ADU construction.
  4. Soup: “Better Together” One Stop ADU Shop to promote a new low up-front cost financing model.
  5. SymbiumA public facing online platform to enable home owners and housing nonprofits to plan and simulate ADU construction. In addition, an internal tool for cities to streamline the analysis, planning, and approval process for ADUs in their jurisdictions.

PVF took a systems and matrix approach to the grants. The projects are meant to interconnect and work with each other to make the sum greater than its parts. They build on top of each other to rely on each organization’s capabilities and expertise. Symbium has a foundational software layer that allows the public, nonprofits, and cities to simulate, model, and plan the building of an ADU. Soup and EPACANDO/PAHALI/YUCA will use the Symbium platform for their advising, planning, and permitting. City Systems will not only take advantage of the Symbium software, but will source the property in which they will build their garage showcase from EPACANDO. EPACANDO will build two ADUs and convey the property to PAHALI as the first unit in a co-op CLT. PAHALI can also be the vessel for any nonprofit to create a CLT, and the United Hope Builders factory will be a manufacturing vendor that can build ADUs for Soup, EPACANDO/PAHALI/YUCA, and other faith-based organizations and nonprofits.
We need radical collaboration now more than ever and it was an honor and a joy to collaborate with Facebook, our community advisors, and grassroots front line organizations. We are stronger when we march together. 
About the Editors
James Higa
James Higa, Executive Director, brings 28 years of executive experience from Silicon Valley, working with Steve Jobs to change the face of technology. He was at the birth of the personal computer revolution as a member of the original Macintosh team and was deeply involved in the creation of many products and services at Apple over 3 decades. He has a long history of public service as a board member of Stanford's Haas Center and in grassroots relief efforts.
Bill Somerville, Founder, has been in non-profit and philanthropic work for over 50 years. He was the director of a community foundation for 17 years, and in 1991, he founded Philanthropic Ventures Foundation. Bill has consulted at over 400 community foundations, on creative grantmaking and foundation operations. Bill is the author of Grassroots Philanthropy: Field Notes of a Maverick Grantmaker. 
About PVF
PVF is a demonstration foundation practicing unique forms of grantmaking
and innovative philanthropy. Our primary interest is in the creative
and significant use of the philanthropic dollar.
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