The Housing Crisis
By: Bill Somerville, Founder

In a place like East Palo Alto, we are concerned with low-income housing, which is disappearing.

Affordable housing is needed by very low-income East Palo Alto residents who are struggling - often with two jobs - to afford housing.

Our efforts in addressing the housing issue at Philanthropic Ventures Foundation include the Rescue Housing Fund. This is a program we created with Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto so that if a client can't make the full rent payment and is facing eviction, Legal Services can make up the difference. This has been very effective in keeping 50 families, so far, from being evicted.
Read the  San Mateo County Eviction Report 2016 , created by the Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County, Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto (CLSEPA), and the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project, 2016.
Photograph by Brandon Chaves
Another approach is to help the city of East Palo Alto in the future to build low-income housing because available land is city-owned and zoned for such housing.

A housing scenario being acted out in East Palo Alto - and maybe other cities as well - involves a low-income family or an elderly couple that has owned their home for many years, and its value has gone from $250,000 to $750,000. Realtors are vigorous in encouraging elderly owners to sell and move. One owner stated she has a visit at least once a week by real estate agents. The owners may be elderly and need cash so they sell and move to an outlying area and buy a cheaper house. If the house is sold, it is no longer available for low-income use.

We are now strategizing with other grantmakers to see if there is a way to partner with low-income housing organizations to purchase an equity share in houses so the owners have cash and can postpone selling. They can use the cash to buy a cheaper house in an outlying area and they agree to make their original home available for the low-income rental market.
These tiny houses represent a sincere grassroots effort  to find solutions for the homeless in San Bruno.
There is money in Silicon Valley, of which East Palo Alto is a part, but the tidal wave seems to have no nuance to make room for low-income renters.

We are committed to preserve low-income rental housing, and we mourn low-income persons who are forced out and now have a commute that starts at 2:30 A.M. to get into work in Silicon Valley.
Facebook Local Community Fund: Applications Due 5/31

$5,000 grants are available to nonprofits serving Belle Haven & East Palo Alto!

Submit your application online now!
The Small Foundation that
Makes a Big Difference in Young Lives
Guest post by PVF intern Philip von Furstenberg

I was a school social worker at Cesar Chavez Elementary in San Francisco when I first heard of PVF in 2008 from one of my supervisors. We were told at a staff meeting that we could get a Teacher Resource Grant of $500 from PVF in less than 48 hours.

At the time, I had been toying with the idea of developing an afterschool skateboard program where grades and behavior determined eligibility. There were a number of students acting out and not turning in their homework, so the elementary advisor and I decided we would start a program that students would be excited to take part in. I applied for a PVF grant to fund the program. When a check for $500 came in the mail, I immediately ordered helmets, elbow pads, knee pads, and new trucks and wheels. The skateboards were donated by several skate shops nearby. My colleague and I conspicuously assembled the boards during the next lunch recess and told the kids the requirement to join: all homework turned in on time and no behavior problems. Miraculously, our program was an instant hit with some of the children who had the biggest behavior problems. Those with low self-esteem also blossomed academically once they had demonstrated mastery of an activity that drew the admiration of other students. To this day, the program is still running thanks to the startup funding PVF gave us.
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 50 years. He was the director of a community foundation for 17 years, and in 1991 founded Philanthropic Ventures Foundation where he serves as President. 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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