Communities throughout the Bay Area are being challenged by how the increase in jobs outpaces increases in housing supply. To address the jobs/housing gap, the County of San Mateo convened a multi-sector task force, which has become the Home for All initiative.

Led by County of San Mateo Supervisors Don Horsley and Warren Slocum, the Home for All Initiative is a collaborative countywide effort with a wide range of community partners working to build support and inspire action for a variety of housing options.

In addition to issues of land, policy and funding, there is an opportunity to change the climate for housing decisions with more inclusive and effective community engagement, especially at the level of cities and towns.  At the invitation of Home for All, Common Knowledge partnered with retired city managers Ed Everett and Rod Gould and consultant Greg Greenway to form Common Knowledge Plus. The expanded team offers diverse skills in community engagement and deep expertise in city management, civic process, and housing policy.

In the Spring of 2017, Common Knowledge Plus and the Home for All initiative began to assess how community engagement could play a role in closing the jobs/housing gap in San Mateo County. After an initial round of one-on-one interviews and city meetings, Common Knowledge Plus assisted the Home for All team in developing an application for interested cities in San Mateo County to pilot new approaches to community engagement around housing.

Four cities’ proposed projects were selected to received grants and technical assistance:

Common Knowledge Plus and Home for All are coordinating a Community Engagement pilot program in order to support a countywide Learning Network for all cities in San Mateo County. On September 28th, 14 cities gathered to develop shared strategies for more inclusive and more informed conversation around housing in their communities.

One key aspect of the design of Home for All’s Learning Network is peer-to-peer exchange. At the most recent meeting, participants got a chance to learn directly from Alex Khojikian, Redwood City Deputy City Manager, and Jill Ekas, Half Moon Bay Planning and Development Services Manager. Both Alex and Jill shared stories of how they have used neighborhood-based outreach to positively engage new audiences and the multiple benefits of those new connections between the city and residents.

Common Knowledge Plus is delighted to be walking alongside Home for All and the cities in San Mateo County who have a strong track record of collaboration. Please let us know if you have resources or examples to add to the Home for All Learning Network platform. If you are working in San Mateo County, we hope to see you at Housing Leadership Day on October 20th or at other events that help build community momentum for housing.