Collaborating in the San Joaquin Valley

Hearty congratulations are in order for the San Joaquin Valley Housing Collaborative for the successful inaugural San Joaquin Valley Affordable Housing Summit 2012 held May 22nd in Fresno. The Summit program covered a wide range of issues, especially the depth of the foreclosures and accompanying loss of home values in the Central Valley, but also showed some causes for optimism, as the trends for employments, home values, and opportunities for investment are showing some upticks that can be sustained.

The theme of the Summit was COLLABORATION, and I was able to speak on the closing panel, to discuss how CDFI lenders such as Century can first learn from and then work with local Valley organizations to address the acute housing challenged many communities are facing. The situation of the San Joaquin Valley is similar (though more diffuse) to the situation that created Century Housing in the 1980s: a large community of color faced severe housing hardships due to forces beyond their control (highway construction then, financial destruction now). Century was formed to ensure a direct solution to the unjust imposition –  building homes to replace those razed in the I-105 freeway right-of-way. Because the housing crisis is much more dispersed in the Valley, the solutions will only come from collaborative work, as there is not a specific government agency charged with addressing the issues.

Specific kudos are due for Darryl Rutherford of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, Rob Wiener of the California Coalition for Rural Housing, and Mike Frazier and staff of the California Partnership for the San Joaquin Valley.