Cities across the nation are facing an affordable housing stock scarcity. Renters on the lower income threshold are becoming homeless due to rising rents and dwindling resources for assistance. Stockton, California, a Central Valley city of more than 315,000, is not immune to these challenges.
In 2017, Stockton posted the fastest-rising rent increases in the country as a percentage. Residents face particular hardships according to some statistics: 47% of households are low-income, affecting 65% of renters and 20% of homeowners. Across the city, 9,000 units are available to over 20,000 households at or below 50% of the area median. The current administration, led by Mayor Michael Tubbs, is making affordable housing and homelessness priority issues.
San Joaquin County’s Continuum of Care program provides the bulk of funding for homelessness issues in Stockton. Working closely with the California State Legislature, the County and Stockton’s City Council, Mayor Tubbs is working on additional programs and funding for Stockton. Along with the Stockton City Council, the Mayor has created a mitigation fund to support housing vouchers, allocated general funds toward clean-up efforts and committed grants aimed at securing emergency shelter and permanent housing. In addition, the Mayor convened a Task Force on Affordable and Workforce Housing in the spring of 2018 to assess options for producing more affordable housing units. This Task Force is now entering the second phase of its work, aimed at the protection and preservation of existing affordable units, securing tenant rights, and addressing discrimination within the housing voucher program.
To support this work, the Office of the Mayor of the City of Stockton will partner with FUSE Corps to host an executive-level fellow for one year who will assist the Mayor, the city’s Office of Economic Development, the City Council and other partners to ensure that the city’s robust and multidimensional policies around housing and homelessness are aligned, and ensuring that these reforms are executed quickly and effectively. The fellow will play a pivotal role in this citywide effort to retain and increase affordable housing, protecting vulnerable citizens, and reducing homelessness in order to advance Stockton’s great economic potential.
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 of 2020, it is proposed the FUSE Fellow will begin stewarding an interagency process to execute on the City of Stockton’s vision for increasing affordable housing and homeless services. This individual will follow the Mayor’s Office lead in forging relationships with internal and external stakeholders to ensure specific tasks and objectives are carried out with urgency, care, and effect.
As a priority, the fellow will support the development of a housing trust fund to further the local financial development of affordable housing. The fellow will work with the City’s Economic Development Department and Housing Manager to assist in the deployment of Homeless Emergency Aid Program (HEAP) funds and maintain fidelity to the City’s strategic plan on housing and homelessness. This will require working as a liaison between the Mayor’s office and the San Joaquin County Continuum of Care program. In addition, the fellow will coordinate with community groups to develop a range of alternative funding models in order to address housing affordability and homelessness, as well as work with the Task Force to track and ensure successful implementation of their recommendations to support housing retention, tenant protections and anti-discrimination measures.
A key metric of success will be the preparation of a strategic framework to support continuing policy implementation in these areas. By the spring of 2021, the City expects to have commenced implementation of programs targeting homelessness and housing affordability, and ideally will have made substantial progress on achieving housing market stabilization for current Stockton families and future residents.
The fellow should take the following three-pronged approach:
- Assess landscape and lay groundwork — Meet with the Mayor and the Mayor’s Senior Policy Advisor to form relationships and gain a deep understanding of existing City efforts and future goals for addressing housing affordability and homelessness. Learn about the varied slate of partnerships between the Mayor’s office and internal and external stakeholders, and opportunities for improving collaboration among City agencies. Become familiar with the role of the County’s Continuum of Care administrators, mechanisms of county and state funding, and the importance that Stockton plays in the state and the region to successfully address these issues.
- Execute across a wide range of agenda items — Prioritize among the different projects and tasks that need to be pursued, identify the proper partners for each, and potential challenges to deliver within a specific time frame. The fellow will take the Mayor’s Office lead in developing productive relationships with stakeholders, in particular cooperating with the Economic Development Department and its operations as necessary. Ascertain funding streams where needed, identify gaps in project deployment, liaise with external and internal stakeholders and remain sensitive and respectful to historic relationships. Shepheard the processes of deploying and targeting fund deployments; implementing the recommendations of the Mayor’s Task Force on Affordable and Workforce Housing on tenant protections, anti-discrimination measures, and housing retention; meeting strategic plan objectives; and executing other related City priorities. Leverage discrete areas of expertise within collaborative groups to increase communication and collaboration. And ensure that homelessness and affordable housing efforts are properly integrated within the framework of the City’s broader agenda without working at cross-purposes.
- Track progress, ensure proper communication within the City and build momentum for the long term — Track action and progress on existing recommendations and plans, and communicate results as necessary. Ensure that the County continues to address the needs of Stockton as the seat of San Joaquin County. Monitor current projects to gauge success in meeting objectives and timelines. Secure alignment among projects and collaboration across departments, agencies, and jurisdictions. Ensure that the Mayor and his Senior Advisor are well-informed and that their input is effectively integrated into project execution. Build buy-in for ongoing efforts as part of a continuing, comprehensive approach to increasing housing security in Stockton. Create a structure for carrying out long-term efforts that mark the fellowship year as a tipping point in finding solutions to Stockton’s housing and homelessness challenges.
SPONSOR & SUPERVISOR
- Michael Tubbs, Mayor, City of Stockton (Sponsor)
- Max Vargas, Senior Policy Advisor, City of Stockton (Supervisor)
- Economic Development Director, City of Stockton
- Housing Manager, City of Stockton
- San Joaquin County Continuum of Care Program
- Task Force on Affordable and Workforce Housing
- Various community groups and organizations
- At least 15 years of professional experience in relevant fields, particularly preference for affordable construction development, real estate financing, urban planning, and a strong background in systems management.
- Knowledge of related non-profit service providers.
- Superior critical thinking, problem solving 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 and ability to work independently.
- Persistent in obtaining information, creative and resourceful.
- Ability to create direction and movement within potentially ambiguous
- Exceptional written and verbal communication skills.
- Understands the need for solutions to support all people in a community regardless of race, religion, gender, immigration status, or ethnicity.