April 1, 2020

Covid-19 Response: Our Work in Northern California

“If there is one thing history teaches us, it’s that moments of shock are profoundly volatile. We either lose a whole lot of ground…or we win victories that seemed impossible just a few weeks earlier. This is no time to lose our nerve.” - Naomi Klein, Shock Doctrine

Like you, our NorCal Enterprise team is doing our best to adjust to the rapidly changing circumstances of the Covid-19 pandemic. The new public health and economic crisis underscores the urgency of our work and illuminates the stark economic and racial inequities in our community. As the Center for American Progress notes: “Persistent segregation has restricted tens of millions of people of color to some of the most densely populated urban areas in the country; structural and environmental racism has produced extraordinarily high rates of serious chronic health conditions among people of color; and entrenched barriers in the health system continue to prevent people of color from obtaining the care they need. Now, these same factors threaten to exacerbate the current national hardship: a potentially deadly coronavirus.”  

As we respond to Governor Newsom’s direction to “shelter in place,” we are forced to face the reality that so many Californians do not have a home in which to take shelter. The challenges of our housing and homelessness crises are exposing what we already knew, that existing systems for delivering the state’s housing solutions are inadequate and inequitable. Now more than ever, our team remains committed to ensuring that everyone has a healthy, stable, affordable home in a vibrant and inclusive community.    

The “shelter-in-place” order has impacted our team and significantly amplified our work, and we know the same is true for all our partners. At Enterprise, we are responding immediately with policymakers by developing fresh policies and plans as well as equipping our partners with the tools and resources needed to weather this crisis.  Enterprise has a national disaster program, wisdom and tools to draw upon from other disasters such as Hurricanes Katrina in New Orleans, Sandy in New York, and Maria in Puerto Rico. The information we feel is most pertinent to our partners regarding the Covid-19 pandemic can be found on our national website. We are also working on a large national resource for nonprofit developers, called the Emergency Action for Resident & Partner Sustainability Fund, that will provide immediate financial resources and direct technical assistance.(details below).

As business slows and schools close, it’s often the lowest wage workers who bear the greatest burden in the form of reduced income or job loss. We know this economic precarity presents enormous risks for families and individuals to pay their mortgages or rents and maintain a safe, stable home. Many of our essential workers who are still showing up each day – grocery store clerks, healthcare providers, delivery workers – face new challenges to find transportation, manage childcare, and protect their own health and safety, while ensuring that our essential systems continue to operate. They are today’s heroes.

We can seize unique opportunity with the Covid-19 pandemic to craft durable solutions, rather than work-arounds. There is an unprecedented opportunity to use the resources and political momentum unlocked during this time of crisis to make the kinds of durable changes required to address housing insecurity, affordability, and homelessness for all Californians.    

From our team to yours – we are grateful for your partnership and the opportunity to work together to address the challenges ahead. Let’s do this!

Heather Hood, Vice President and Market Leader, Northern California

Our Policy & Advocacy Response to Covid-19 

We are working at the local, state, and federal level to advocate for policies that respond to the rapidly changing conditions to meet the needs of families and individuals, as well as their homes and communities. At the local level, we are working to advance eviction moratoria and ensure continuity of water and utility services. As business slows and schools close, it’s often the lowest wage workers who will bear the greatest burden in the form of reduced income or job loss.

By placing a temporary moratorium on evictions, residents can be encouraged to self-isolate and take other public health precautions without the fear of losing their housing. Recent ordinances were passed in San Francisco, San Jose, Fresno, Stockton and many other jurisdictions. We are also advocating for pairing these temporary moratoria with financial assistance, foreclosure moratoriums and forbearance, and other systems-level interventions in order to ensure long-term affordability and stability for households. 

We are also calling for California to take more bold, holistic action to preserve housing stability and safeguard our public health. The State has the opportunity to overcome the inherent inconsistency and confusion that comes from a patchwork approach of local ordinances. Instead, we’ve been calling for the State to advance these effective solutions – eviction and foreclosure moratoriums, stops to utility shutoffs, and financial assistance -- for all Californians equally. You can read the letter we sent to Governor Newsom last week

In Washington, D.C., our federal policy team is advocating for a robust set of policy priorities within the federal aid packages, including rental assistance through supplemental HOME grants and supplemental funding for Tenant-Based Rental Assistance and Project-Based Rental Assistance, flexible Community Development Block Grants for states and local jurisdictions, as well as additional funding for homelessness and community revitalization.

Enterprise is also working with partners to advance several regulatory and statutory actions to ensure the stability and sustainability of the LIHTC program. Also, we want to share Senior Vice president Marion McFadden’s video that explains the new Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act that was just signed into law, including its affordable housing provisions — and what’s missing.

Resources for Owners and Managers of Affordable Housing

Our Enterprise national team has compiled a list of our guidance and resources aimed at supporting affordable housing owners, operators, community managers and residents. Our Ready to Respond Tools were developed to help affordable housing organizations make buildings more resilient; prepare staff to handle emergencies; ensure residents remain safe; and support business continuity during and after a crisis.

Additional property management resources during the Covid-19 pandemic include guides from National Multifamily Housing CouncilInstitute of Real Estate Management and HUD Exchange.

In addition to these resources, Enterprise is seeking philanthropic support for our new Emergency Action for Resident & Partner Sustainability program (EARPS). This is a grant and technical assistance program that will provide immediate financial resources and direct technical assistance to vulnerable, low-income communities affected by the pandemic, as well as long-term assistance to stabilize the organizations that house and provide services to affected people. EARPS will provide expertise, tools and training to support the long-term viability and sustainability of our nonprofit affordable housing operators and support for their residents. Please contact Pat Bregant to join us in contributing. Once the fund has been established dollars will be awarded within 10 days to successful applicants.

Northern California Philanthropic Covid-19 Response

Across the region community foundations are setting up Covid-19 emergency response funds to assist community members, small businesses and non-profit. These links provide access on how to apply for funds as well as ways to donate to the funds themselves: 

From Our Democratizing Resilience and Disaster Recovery (DRDR) Program

Our DRDR Program has focused on natural disasters common to Northern California such as wildfires, earthquakes, and floods. The current pandemic is not the disaster we were preparing for, but the Covid-19 pandemic will likely have many similarities to natural disasters.

In our paper Democratizing Resilience and Disaster Recovery: A Roadmap to Resilience, we assess the challenges faced by community organizations, public sector agencies, and philanthropy throughout the disaster continuum. We hope this paper can offer insights to recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

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