Homelessness disproportionately impacts people of color in Santa Clara County and if we truly want to rectify this, it can’t happen without the experiences, insight, and knowledge of the people who have suffered the most as a result of this systemic injustice.
With this goal in mind, we are thrilled to announce the first grantees of our new Andre Ellison Equity Fund. This fund has been developed to support the outstanding work of organizations led by people with lived experience of homelessness and/or people of color – those who best know the needs of their community.
Building Power Through Partnership
Ending homelessness requires collaboration across our community, and we have to do more than simply invite participation to reach everyone in need. Structural racism has led to the systemic underfunding of nonprofits led by people of color – often keeping organizations and individuals with valuable lived experience from having decision-making power in improving their community. In fact, a 2020 report found the unrestricted net assets of Black-led organizations are 76% smaller than their white-led counterparts.
We think this is wrong.
In order to create a state-of-the-art supportive housing system in Santa Clara County, we must invest more resources directly in the leaders who understand what it means to not have a stable place to live.
So we’re not just announcing funding awards today, we’re amplifying the work of our newest partners who will help us grow a more diverse and inclusive system. And we know we’ll all benefit as a result.
Meet Our New Partners
We’re committing a total of $2.75 million over a 3-year period to 7 organizations, who’ve sought funding for the following efforts.
- The African American Cultural Center is working to establish Silicon Valley’s first Black-led, non-profit community development entity. In partnership with First Community Housing and the African American Community Services Agency, their first signature project will be to establish a distinguished hub for the African American community with deeply affordable housing at a site in the Alameda West Urban Village of San Jose.
- The Asian American Center of Santa Clara County is working to improve the well-being of Santa Clara County’s diverse populations through outreach, education, and equity-focused programs, and strengthen their agency capacity to advance racial equity and help end homelessness.
- Carry the Vision believes in investing in people so they may realize their full potential, and is seeking to strengthen infrastructure and leadership development, enhance community engagement, and launch the Nueva Vida Recovery Café – all of which is community inspired, led, and driven through a race equity and healing centered lens.
- Elevate Community Center is providing education and legal services in areas of landlord/tenant dispute, domestic violence, as well as criminal record dismissal/sealing to remove barriers to housing and employment.
- Latinas Contra Cancer is working toward more just and equitable access to the healthcare system for the Latinx community around issues of cancer and cancer prevention. With an emphasis on access to housing as a health based strategy, Latinas Contra Cancer is developing client-led services and advocacy to eliminate barriers to health that exist throughout the healthcare delivery system.
- Latinos United for a New America (LUNA) is dismantling the tangible inequalities the Latino community faces in Silicon Valley. As rent prices increase and displacement of the most vulnerable communities continue, LUNA will be increasing efforts to prevent homelessness and work toward permanent solutions and stable housing for communities at risk of homelessness and displacement.
- Razing the Bar is bolstering their comprehensive mentorship and housing support services to current and former foster youth, as well as other under-resourced youth populations. Razing the Bar is a “Peer-to-Peer” led, Permanent Supportive Community organization that is rooted foundationally on putting relationships first and programs second. This has allowed Razing the Bar to holistically serve youth and young adults in their community to achieve their life goals.
We look forward to building our partnerships to end homelessness with these organizations.
About Andre Ellison
This fund is named in memory of our friend and colleague Andre Ellison. Andre was a renaissance man: a brilliant mind, artist, United States Air Force Veteran, musician, activist, and wonderful friend. As a Black man who spent 12 years street homeless, Andre is emblematic of both the successes and challenges we face in ending homelessness. Andre was successfully housed by the Santa Clara County Supportive Housing System, an early success of our community’s shift to prioritizing housing and supportive services to the most vulnerable. He found community, belonging, and purpose at the Recovery Café and Downtown Streets Team and was loved by many. As a founding executive member of the Lived Experience Advisory Board, Andre was a staunch advocate for improving local systems, despite the challenges they posed for him. Yet a tragedy in his early 20s and years of ensuing trauma and mental illness limited Andre’s ability to gain meaningful employment and broad acceptance in society, and he ultimately succumbed to health conditions exacerbated by his life experiences.
The Andre Ellison Equity Fund intends to share power with those most impacted, elevating new solutions and perspectives previously left out. We remain committed in this fight in honor of Andre.