Vinita Goyal is the Program Officer in Housing and Transportation for the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, the largest community foundation in the world located in Mountain View, California. We sat down with Vinita to discuss the SVCF’s work in housing and transit, their support of The Kelsey and our project in San Jose, and the importance of affordable housing to create thriving communities in the Bay Area and beyond.
Disability is not often included in the discussion around affordable housing and community development. What can we do to change that and why is The Kelsey’s work important in this area?
Through education and advocacy, The Kelsey can create awareness about the lack of inclusion of people with disabilities in our affordable housing and community development projects, and they can emphasize the urgency to change those practices. SVCF is proud to support pilot projects and financially sustainable models such as The Kelsey’s Ayer Station project in San Jose that are centered on inclusion and that can be replicated in other parts of the region and the country.
How do you hope (SVCF’s) affordable housing and public transport program will change our region for the better?
In the context of the region’s challenges, SVCF is supporting projects that advance housing and transit opportunities in the region for our low- and middle-income residents and workers. We are also joining other partners in the field in breaking the barriers of segregation and exclusion that have long impacted specific groups. We work on these issues through our grant making, research, public policy, and partnership work. Specifically, we are working to protect communities from unjust evictions and displacement and ensuring that community needs are centered in the preservation of existing housing and new housing production.
Often population types (disabled and non-disabled, affordable and market, older and younger) are segregated in housing. Do you think it is important to promote inclusion in communities? Why?
Housing approaches that exclude marginalized populations from affordable housing options in healthy neighborhoods impede overall social and economic opportunity. Research shows that historically segregated and isolated communities are often characterized by limited employment opportunities, poor health outcomes, higher rates of violence, and the worst-performing schools.
The American promise of opportunity is that everyone is offered fair chances — to reach our full potential, to receive equal treatment, to have a voice in decisions that affect us, and to ensure our access to basic living essentials such as homes, schools, parks, jobs, and transportation. Historical practices of exclusion and segregation that prioritized investments in the suburbs and that foreclosed opportunities for marginalized groups everywhere, however, still echo in today’s land-use policies. In our suburbs, for instance, affordable housing options — typically multifamily apartments — are limited. Other instances of overt discriminatory practices, including racial profiling in the real estate industry or predatory lending, continue to limit housing opportunities for marginalized communities. Those practices are not only a breach of the American promise but also a significant impediment to the Silicon Valley region’s social and economic well-being. While affordable housing creates opportunities and security for marginalized groups, its gains are universal; it stabilizes communities and the region overall. When families and households of different economic and racial backgrounds live close to one another, there are more opportunities for our worldviews to expand in chance encounters on the sidewalk, at the grocery store, or at a bus stop while waiting for a bus. There is evidence that such an environment not only allows for greater tolerance for each other but also stimulates greater innovation and creativity in society than do homogenous cultures. Affordable housing benefits families it serves directly, households in market-rate housing, the health of Silicon Valley, and the region overall. A movement toward housing opportunity that reaches everyone is therefore our common ground and an essential part of delivering on our region’s promise of fair opportunities to our marginalized populations, including individuals with disabilities.
Anything else you’d like to share about your program and your support of The Kelsey?
The Kelsey employs an innovative model of providing housing for people with disabilities that is unprecedented in the region. The Ayers Station is a thoughtful pilot that will benefit from SVCF’s funding; we are proud to provide seed funding for this groundbreaking effort to improve lives in our community.
Thank you Vinita for your time and thank you to the SVCF for your support of our work. If you or your foundation would like to support The Kelsey, please contact Micaela at firstname.lastname@example.org