December 16, 2020

Bright Lights: Together for a More Just Future

Reflecting on the tragedies and triumphs of 2020, it is clear that we stand at an incredible moment in history where a mandate for cooperation and social justice is more urgent than ever. We have known for too long that we need to do things differently — undo the profound legacy of redlining and the ways so our systems continue to perpetuate racism.

We know we must work together to ensure everyone has a safe place to call home. We know that despite the challenges ahead, it is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.  

Our team is looking forward toward a new year with fresh opportunities: transitions in federal leadership, access to COVID-19 vaccines, new voices in the field and growing momentum to rise to the challenge of our public health and economic crises. In that spirit, we want to share our team’s reflections from the past year and hopes for 2021.

So much of what has brought us solace and optimism this past year is all of you: our partners. Through immense challenges, you have shown up with strength, commitment and compassion. You are bright lights. We look forward to stringing our lights together with you in 2021 for a more just future. Happy New Year!

Amiel Leaño Atanacio

Amiel Leaño Atanacio, Northern California Fellow

Looking back on 2020: I am grateful for the partnerships we have forged to address the needs of some of the most vulnerable Californians during this difficult time, particularly with our work on Project Homekey. One cannot shelter-in-place without shelter and I’m glad that we could play a part to help address this inequity.

Looking ahead to 2021: I am hopeful about the new possibilities that a vaccine and stability at the federal level could bring. I feel that 2020 further highlighted the intersection between health and housing, and I hope future policy could be more attuned to this, both at the state and federal level.

Julia Branco

Julia Branco, Program Officer

I’m grateful that 2020 forced us to pause, reassess and reimagine how we can better serve people. We’re forced to come to terms with how the systems we participate in and perpetuate are not beneficial for all, despite our best intentions. 2020 was hard and heartbreaking in many ways, but it was also a wake-up call.  

I’m hopeful that we’ll continue to take the lessons learned from this year about the interconnection between climate, housing, health, to support a holistic and transformative recovery.

Pat Bregant

Pat Bregant, Development Director, Resource Development Group

Amidst a year of disappointment, sadness and loss, I’m grateful for our committed team that inspires me daily, the resilience of those who are most impacted by the pandemic, the economic downturn and our country’s long history of racism and bias.

I’m heartened by the voices of our youth and hopeful that we come out of the chaos to see our region and country begin to heal end the injustices and exclusionary policies that prevent all people from having a healthy home and the supports needed to succeed.

Sally Greenspan

Sally Greenspan, Director, Statewide Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities Program

I am grateful for the chance to have worked with new partners, both inside and outside of Enterprise, and to witness the bravery, creativity, and sheer grit that our partners are demonstrating in the face of the challenges that 2020 has brought, and revealed, in our society.  I am especially inspired by the dedicated public servants at our state agencies, local cities and counties, and transit agencies, who prove how important and valuable our government structures and services are, especially in times of crisis.

I am hopeful that the many interwoven crises of 2020 will continue to serve as a wakeup call and a galvanizing force for all, and that our society will choose to invest deeply in solutions to racial injustice, housing insecurity and burden, healthcare, education, climate change and more.

Richard Gross

Rich Gross, Senior Advisor

I am grateful that during a time of a global pandemic, Enterprise has continued to focus on improving the lives of low-income communities and communities of color. I am grateful to be a part of that struggle.

I am hopeful that we can understand the connection between climate change, affordable housing and equity.

Heather Hood

Heather Hood, VP and Northern California Market Leader

I am grateful that our California teams and all of Enterprise were able to step up, be nimble and quick to help the state work on smart strategies to decrease homelessness post Covid. Everyone took a growth mindset, and the teamwork was breathtaking. Already we are confident we helped at least 3,000  people find a place to call home.

I am hopeful that federal policy will be able to help Californians rest assured that they have a stable place to call home after a hard day’s work.

Brandon Jones

Brandon Jones, Program Director

Amid profound social, political, and health turbulence, I am truly inspired by how swiftly – and with great care – Enterprise and many partners have supported our most vulnerable communities and colleagues. This year has required us all to stretch, grow and surrender in ways we could not have imagined. There is great beauty and wisdom to glean from the lessons of 2020.

I am thrilled that the notion of healing is consistently solidifying itself within the community development vernacular beyond simply in terms of health. I am looking for to advancing our shared understanding of healing-centered work at Enterprise and operationalizing trauma mitigation in our work.

Justine Marcus

Justine Marcus, Program Director, State and Local Policy

In a year of crisis and profound hardship, I am most grateful for the moments of solidarity and building power and bridges across differences to fight for the health, safety and dignity of Californians who are struggling. In times of uncertainty, it’s easy to focus on scarcity, but it was the efforts to work together with a shared goal of equitable relief and a just recovery, that kept me hopeful in 2020.

I think 2020 deepened our understanding and appreciation for how interconnected so many of our challenges are. I am hopeful that we will continue to explore and expand how our housing policy efforts are inseparable from mitigating climate change, dismantling structural racism and protecting public health.

Geeta Rao

Geeta Rao, Senior Director

2020 was a year of incredible challenges for so many Californians struggling with housing stability and making ends meet. I am proud that our office was steadfast in our mission and worked closely with our partners on housing strategies that were new and unconventional, like Project Homekey and the Bay Area Housing Finance Authority.

I see glimmers of true hope: more stability at the federal level, promising vaccines and communities working in partnership for a brighter future.

Kristine Williams

Kristine Williams, Program Director

2020 has shed a stark light on the interconnected nature of our work and the importance of being intersectional when thinking about how systems of housing work and who those systems work for. I am grateful that, despite the immense challenges we’ve faced and still must confront, this dialog has been opened and work is beginning.

I am hopeful that our work will continue to evolve holistically to ensure that we are meeting the real housing needs of families and individuals.

James Yelen

James Yelen, Program Officer

In the face of unprecedented hardship, I am grateful to see so many different people and organizations come together around visionary strategies to move forward. There’s a growing recognition that we need bold and holistic solutions if we want to truly manifest racial, economic and climate justice in our lifetimes, and I think a lot of that has to do with a wave of young people injecting new energy and urgency into the political discourse.

In many ways the challenges we face today are not new, they have just been exacerbated by the current public health, climate and economic crises and thus have become harder to ignore. What could be new is a willingness to consider the kinds of transformative policies and levels of investment to address these challenges that previously wasn’t imaginable. I’m hopeful that with the right alignment of federal and state resources, as well as renewed political will, California will be able to take a meaningful step forward in addressing our decades-long conditions of housing unaffordability and instability.  


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