Given our region’s critical housing shortage and growing income inequality, families find it harder to find and afford housing. Public interest and action in support of more housing has increased over the last few years, and many partners believe this is a rare moment when voters and officials are more open than ever before to investing in housing solutions in their communities.
In response, Sunlight Giving launched a housing advocacy and systems support initiative for 2018-2020. The initiative provides additional funds to organizations that advocate for housing for low-income residents, mobilize local residents, and make housing development more streamlined and accessible by providing technical expertise to change local codes and ordinances and navigate complex funding mechanisms. This work builds on the grantmaking in our core housing stability portfolio.
Many families in our region have single or multiple incomes from jobs yet cannot afford basic needs such as housing, food, and child care. While many organizations help families directly access these basic needs through programs or public benefits, working families also need the flexibility of unrestricted money to run their households and to ensure their children’s wellbeing. Even modest increases in a family’s disposable income can lead to increased feelings of agency and dignity.
The Economic Opportunity initiative seeks ways to ensure that more families take advantage of existing services that can increase a household's income. To that end, this initiative currently focuses on promoting the drawdown of federal and state Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC) dollars, which have been proven to support the stability and healthy development of children.
In response to the proliferation of anti-immigrant policies and rhetoric at the national level, Sunlight Giving augmented funding from 2017-2020 to protect immigrant communities. This initiative aims to strengthen immigration services that stabilize vulnerable, low-income families. Sunlight Giving supports organizations providing legal assistance, emergency planning, and community education and outreach. We also support statewide and regional immigrant rights advocacy and capacity building efforts that intend to increase immigrants’ access to safety net services. This work builds on the work in our core family support portfolio.
Regional Capacity Building
The capacity building initiative aims to strengthen the capacity of our nonprofit partners in under-resourced regions with a growing population of low-income families seeking safety net services. Our nonprofit partners are facing pressure to serve a greater number of families with limited resources. These organizations are in need of additional capacity building support to scale services to meet the growing demand. Currently, Sunlight Giving is supporting capacity building efforts in the San Joaquin Valley, a region that has seen a significant increase in the number of low-income families leaving the San Francisco Bay Area in pursuit of affordable housing.
The U.S Constitution requires a full count of the country’s entire population every ten years, making the U.S. Census a critical element of American democracy. The population data collected by the Census is used to allocate billions of dollars in federal funding, including funding for vital safety net programs. In addition, state and local government agencies and nonprofits rely on data from the census to allocate funding, define where services are delivered, and support communities in need.
Research shows that people who are children, homeless, lower income, English language learners, undocumented immigrants, and racial/ethnic minorities are least likely to be enumerated properly. With the increasingly hostile rhetoric around immigration and immigrants, Sunlight Giving is collaborating with other funders in the region to ensure that the Census is inclusive and that “hard to count” populations are counted. This initiative will run from 2018-2020.