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How Community-Government Partnerships Advance Equitable Housing Policies

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Managed by the San Francisco Foundation and Local Initiatives Support Corporation, the Partnership for the Bay’s Future (PBF) is an innovative and collaborative effort of philanthropic, private, nonprofit, and public sectors using racial and economic equity as the guiding influence to ensure the Bay Area is a place where everyone can live in vibrant, inclusive communities of racial and economic diversity. PBF aims to achieve this goal by addressing the interconnected challenges of housing, transportation and economic inclusion. Starting with a focus on the housing crisis, PBF launched in 2019 with the ambitious goals of protecting 175,000 households over five years, and preserving and producing 8,000 homes over 10 years.

High demand for housing, exclusionary policies, zoning regulations, and lack of investment in housing production have created an overwhelming housing crisis in the Bay Area. PBF’s inaugural grant program, the Challenge Grants (CG) for Protection and Preservation, is an innovative model of government and community collaboration for equitable policy change that aims to address these pressing challenges. Though the CG program launched in March 2020—right before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down economies and social interactions around the world—government and community entities have collaborated across the Bay Area to design, pass, and implement policies that protect vulnerable tenants and preserve existing affordable housing.

In June 2020, PBF commissioned Informing Change to explore how CG partnerships are furthering policy change and deepening collaboration between government and community partners. We took a developmental evaluation approach to this work and designed the evaluation around three learning cycles: exploring implementation, shifts and changes, policy progress, and sustainability. Our iterative, cyclical, and developmental evaluation approach helped us surface insights and feedback supporting timely programmatic changes. We used these findings to adapt and shift evaluation directions based on the learnings.

For each learning cycle, we utilized a variety of data collection methods, including individual interviews with CG partners and participatory focus group discussions with each CG team. We reviewed progress reports provided by the Fellows and documents produced by CG team members, in addition to conducting desk research on the policies. We also incorporated the perspectives of additional community organizations that worked with CG teams throughout the two-year process via a short survey. Throughout our evaluation and reporting, we focused on three lenses central to CG program goals and design: centering equity, expanding inclusion, and strengthening collaboration. We designed each cycle’s evaluation questions and tools to explore how CG teams increased their capacity to advance policies through applying theses lenses to different phases of their two-year policy process. We summarize key findings across all three cycles with a particular emphasis on policy pursuits, lessons learned, and key considerations when implementing similar models, such as PBF’s next iteration of this program, the Breakthrough Grant.

Learn more about PBF on their website.