Fellowship Openings

Assessing Rent Stabilization to Safeguard Affordable Housing

Project: Assessing Rent Stabilization to Safeguard Affordable Housing

Agency: San José Housing Department

Location: San Jose, CA

PROJECT CONTEXT

San José is the tenth most populous city in the United States, and the economic, cultural and political center of Silicon Valley. It is also one of the country’s least affordable cities. Low income households comprise nearly 40 percent of the market. Less than a quarter of available homes are affordable or subject to rent restrictions. Only 6 percent of residents describe available affordable housing as “excellent” or “good”, according to the city’s 2017-18 annual report. The city’s average monthly rents and the median single-family home price continue to rise. As conversations around affordable housing took on increasing urgency, in October 2019 Governor Gavin Newsom signed legislation capping annual rent hikes and providing additional tenant protection measures for the state residents for the next decade. San José was ahead of the curve.

Through a series of ordinances that passed by the slimmest of margins in 2017, the City Council of San José built a robust Rent Stabilization Program.  Under this program, the city has 90,000 rental units subject to tenant protections, and 39,000 apartments subject to rent control measures.  The city also requires notification requirements for rental units removed from the market and allocates relocation benefits for tenants residing in such units. However, at a rate of 10,000 notice filings per year, the Housing Department is challenged to asses and calibrate its policies properly for effectiveness. Housing Department officials now seek to evaluate the Rent Stabilization Program and its impact on city residents. Such analysis is fundamentally critical to ensure the program’s success and guarantee future access to affordable housing units for those who seek them.

The city now faces an opportunity to evaluate its Rent Stabilization Program, predict future challenges and create a forward-looking strategy to strengthen the program and analyze the rental housing market.  To support this work, San José will partner with FUSE Corps to host an executive-level fellow for one year who will work with existing stakeholders to facilitate the development of a data-driven strategic plan for rent stabilization and housing affordability.

PROJECT SUMMARY & POTENTIAL DELIVERABLES

The following provides a general overview of the proposed fellowship project. This project summary and the potential deliverables that follow will be collaboratively revisited by the host agency, the fellow, and FUSE staff during the first few months of the fellowship, after which a revised scope of work will be developed and agreed upon by the FUSE Fellow and the host agency.

Starting in April 2020, it is proposed the FUSE Fellow will begin his or her work with a listening tour of city stakeholders to understand the nuances of the city’s Rent Stabilization Program and its impact to residents. With guidance from senior leadership, and an open-minded approach, the Fellow will also engage with diverse tenants, industry associations, non-profit partners, and landlord groups of different sizes to gain a critical perspective on the program and help ensure that any strategy that the city develops is meeting the needs of all residents. Concurrently, the Fellow will also research affordable housing best practices in cities throughout the state and country. Following this period of benchmarking and research, the Fellow will work closely with leadership in the Housing Department to develop and implement a strategic plan for the City’s Rent Stabilization Program that incorporates an evaluation framework and measurable outcomes, allowing officials to understand and communicate the program’s impact to all stakeholders.

To be successful in this role, the Fellow must be a strong analytical thinker and writer, with demonstrated experience in developing and implementing a complex strategic plan. The Fellow should be able to confidently navigate sensitive discussions around affordable housing and race among a range of stakeholders. The Fellow should use the strategic plan to help make a “business case” for the Rent Stabilization Program, with a heavy emphasize on measuring outcomes.

  • Benchmarking & Research: Review incoming data on housing and identify data gaps and opportunities for additional data gathering. Synthesize data in order to highlight trends and illustrate impact. Compare and contrast strategies and interventions to produce better outcomes. Complete a comprehensive analysis of current policies and strategies from cities nationwide.
  • Stakeholder Engagement & Strategic Plan: Build relationships with and engage with stakeholders across city departments and external to the city organization. Identify learning and knowledge sharing opportunities with other cities and municipalities. Building on the results of the listening tour and research, work with city officials to develop a forward-looking strategy for rent stabilization across the city.
  • Initiate Implementation: Activate mechanisms to initiate and monitor program implementation, and identify ways to measure impact. Create guidance for a set of recommendations and resources needed for measuring outcomes and program evaluation. Train staff and ensure buy-in and widespread adoption of recommendations included in new strategies.

STAKEHOLDERS

  • Jacky Morales-Ferrand, Housing Director, San José Executive Office
  • Rachel VanderVeen, Deputy Director, San José Executive Office
  • Various San José & Santa Clara County Tenant Rights Organizations
  • City Departments Including Planning, Building and Code Enforcement and City Manager’s Office
  • Rental Housing Network
  • Law Foundation
  • California Apartment Association
  • Homeless Prevention Agencies

QUALIFICATIONS

  • At least 15 years of professional experience in a relevant field, particularly with a strong background in leading strategic planning and working with diverse stakeholders.
  • Superior critical thinking and analytical skills.
  • Ability to synthesize complex information into clear and concise recommendations.
  • Ability to relate to a wide variety of diverse audiences with strong emotional intelligence and empathy.
  • Excellent stakeholder engagement skills and the ability to use facilitative leadership techniques to coordinate stakeholder activities.
  • Self-motivated, goal-oriented, entrepreneurial leader who can also be an independent worker.
  • Persistent in obtaining information and creatively resourceful in identifying solutions to complex problems.
  • Ability to create direction and movement within potentially ambiguous
  • Exceptional written and verbal communication skills with an ease in public presentations.
  • Understands the need for solutions to support all people in a community regardless of race, religion, gender, immigration status, or ethnicity.

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