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United Way Bay Area awards $750,000 in housing justice grants to 23 local nonprofits

June 27, 2023

United Way Bay Area awards $750,000 in housing justice grants to 23 local nonprofits

With a critical shortage of housing in the Bay Area region, prices are skyrocketing, resulting in evictions surpassing pre-pandemic levels. United Way Bay Area is tackling the issue head-on with its Housing Justice Initiative grants.


a black and white version of the United Way Bay Area logo


Blake Case
(601) 832-6079

San Francisco, Calif., June 26, 2023 – United Way Bay Area (UWBA), a group mobilizing the Bay Area to dismantle the root causes of poverty and build equitable pathways to prosperity, is awarding grants totaling $750,000 to 23 Bay Area organizations as part of their Housing Justice Initiative grantmaking efforts. The grants will help increase access to stable and affordable housing, address the racial wealth gap, prevent homelessness, and support organizations engaged in policy advocacy around the issue. Nine of the grants, totaling $250,000 were decided by a community-led panel of 7 UWBA Ambassadors with lived experience facing housing insecurity in the region.

United Way Bay Area recently shared regional data from the Real Cost Measure, which found that over 600,000 Bay Area households struggle to meet basic needs. On top of this, nearly 4 in 10 households in the region pay at least 30% of their income on housing. The Real Cost Measure factors in the cost of housing, childcare, transportation, and other basic needs to determine what it costs to make ends meet in the state. Of the hundreds of thousands of residents that do not earn sufficient income to meet basic needs in the Bay Area, Black and Latino households struggle the most. With this in mind, it is no surprise that housing is the No.1 reason why people call United Way Bay Area’s essential 2-1-1 Helpline.

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“Affordability, equity, and access are some of the greatest challenges we face in the Bay Area,” says Karen Nemsick, United Way Bay Area Housing Justice Initiative Director. “Seeing these grants make a difference in that fight is such a joy. For the second year in a row, our grantee partners will help transform the lives of Bay Area residents. The lack of affordable housing in this region impacts all of us, and collaboration is key to keeping the Bay Area a place where all residents can prosper.”

Wealth disparity compounded with rising eviction rates and systemic inequities make housing justice grants necessary. According to Axios, evictions have returned to, and in some cases exceeded, pre-pandemic levels. The data comes from Eviction Lab, a group that shares UWBA’s belief that affordable and stable housing is a baseline for economic mobility and the capacity to thrive.

Funding for the Housing Justice Initiative Grants comes from a transformational gift given by MacKenzie Scott in 2021. This gift allowed United Way Bay Area to kick off the Housing Justice Initiative Grants last year and will allow Bay Area organizations to engage in the same life-changing work again this year.

“We are forever grateful to MacKenzie Scott for entrusting us with this unrestricted funding that has created an innovative, community driven approach to tackling the housing crisis,” says Christopher Berini, United Way Bay Area Chief Advancement Officer.

The organizations receiving awards this year include:

Housing Justice Initiative Grants (totaling $500,000):

  • Urban Habitat: $55,000
  • Healthy & Active Before 5: $20,000
  • H4H East Bay/SV: $40,000
  • CARAS: $20,000
  • Richmond Neighborhood Housing Services: $20,000
  • OAK Community Land Trust: $70,000
  • SOMOS Mayfair: $40,000
  • HIP Housing: $20,000
  • EBALDC: $60,000
  • Homeward Bound of Marin: $20,000
  • BOSS: $10,000
  • Community Housing Development Corp: $50,000
  • Enterprise Community Partners: $25,000
  • Council of Community Housing Orgs: $20,000

Community-led grants are decided by a community-led panel of 7 UWBA Ambassadors with lived experience facing housing insecurity. These grants provide direct support to keep families housed and target rental assistance and eviction prevention. The organizations receiving awards this year include:

Ambassador Grants (totaling $250,000):

  • Adopt a Family of Marin: $25,000
  • Building Opportunities for Self-Sufficiency (BOSS): $25,000
  • Covenant House California: $25,000
  • District Council of Contra Costa County Society of St. Vincent de Paul: $25,000
  • Dixon Family Services: $25,000
  • Monument Impact: $25,000
  • East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy (EBASE): $37,500
  • SHELTER, Inc.: $25,000
  • Sister to Sister 2, Incorporated Serenity House: $37,500

About United Way Bay Area
United Way Bay Area (UWBA) mobilizes the Bay Area to assist people living in poverty and to dismantle the root causes of poverty. One of the most respected and highly effective philanthropic organizations fighting poverty, UWBA supports workers and students seeking employment and better careers, helps families struggling to meet basic needs, supports our neighbors toward achieving their financial stability goals, and advocates for housing justice for all Bay Area residents. Learn more at uwba.org.