Plain Language

Below is a Plain Language Summary of The Kelsey’s mission and work as well as a glossary of some key terms. Some sections link to other pages and websites. Please note, that not all links send to Plain Language documents.

About Us

The Kelsey is an organization located in San Francisco, California. We create and work on disability-forward housing solutions that build more homes and opportunities for everyone. Our work is co-led by people with and without disabilities. 

The Kelsey both develops integrated and inclusive housing communities (projects) and creates policies and strategies so that inclusive housing can be more widely available (advocacy).

The Kelsey was founded in 2018 and since then has:

  • Over 240 homes in development
  • $170 million committed in funding from individuals, corporations, and government to support disability-forward housing
  • Over 950 community leaders engaged

The Kelsey is named after, Kelsey O’Connor. the co-founder of The Kelsey. Kelsey passed away in 2018 at the age of 31. She had significant and multiple disabilities. Kelsey was an advocate for inclusion and access during her life. Kelsey’s favorite sign was more. Like her, we believe more is possible for our communities and neighbors. The way she lived and shared her story has influenced and continues to inspire the work we do today and the people who lead our organization.

This is why new housing solutions are needed for people with disabilities:

  • There are four million adults with disabilities whose only source of income is Supplemental Security Income (SSI). They are priced out of every housing market in the country and would have to spend 125% of their entire income to afford basic housing. Less than 12% of people with intellectual or developmental disabilities (IDD) rent or own their own home, despite 79% of people with IDD reporting a desire to rent or own their own home.
  • Less than 6% of housing is accessible to people who use a wheelchair or have other mobility needs.
  • 17% of people with disabilities report experiencing loneliness and 15% report having low social support.  Loneliness has been proven to be more dangerous than obesity and as damaging to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
  • Adults with disabilities are 4x more likely to experience homelessness than adults without.

Projects

  • The Kelsey Ayer Station is located in San Jose near Japantown with many places to visit and essentials nearby. It has 115 2-bedroom and studio apartments with 25% saved for people with disabilities served through the local regional center. There are 8,000 square feet of universally designed community spaces. Amenities include a fitness room, maker space, rooftop resident terrace, sensory garden, support staff offices, dog run, and pet-friendly units, transit passes and coordination, community lobby, and bike parking. Diridon Station is only 1.3 miles away with light rails that connect the Bay Area to Silicon Valley and places in between. Our onsite Inclusion Concierge will help build a community for our residents of all abilities and connect them to outside supports and services.

The Kelsey is codeveloping this property with Sares Regis Group of Northern California (SRGNC) and Devine and Gong, Inc. (DGI). 

  • The Kelsey Civic Center is located across from City Hall in San Francisco with an estimated construction date of Q4 of 2022. It will be a vibrant urban community offering 112 homes for people of all abilities, incomes, and backgrounds. It will serve as a guiding example of an all-electric, low-carbon building that can be affordable to people of all incomes. 25% of homes are reserved for people with disabilities in a universally designed building and supported by onsite Inclusion Concierges.

The Kelsey is co-developing this property with Mercy Housing California.

  • Atlas Oakland is an inclusive community within a larger, luxury 600+ home building. We offer 8 affordable 1-bedroom and 2-bedroom homes for individuals with developmental disabilities who are clients of the Regional Center of the East Bay Homes. Residents have access to The Kelsey’s Inclusion Concierge program and other on-site amenities. Living in downtown Oakland provides residents with access to jobs, community, culture, services, and transit

The Kelsey is piloting this project with Carmel Partners and Greystar. 

Advocacy

Advancing Inclusion Together

Together, as people with and without disabilities, we build the field of disability housing and support policy to make more inclusive cities a reality. Some of our advocacy work includes:

Raise the Roof

The Kelsey developed this program to support disabled leaders interested in working at a housing organization or by being a better advocate to change how housing currently gets built. We support and partner with the diverse, growing nationwide network of disabled leaders to learn more housing skills and become housing advocates for affordable, accessible, and inclusive communities.

Together We Can Do More

We built teams of partners from a variety of professional experiences over a nine-month process in the Bay Area to make use of existing resources and direct them towards shared solutions, including our housing projects. This is a project that take place in other communities. 

Working Groups & Advocacy Partnerships

We lead and organize regional and national priorities, policy reform efforts, and ongoing advocacy for inclusive, accessible, and affordable housing. We also work with organizations to publish policy content and advise on campaigns and programs.

Our Team

We are a committed team of people with and without disabilities that combine our skills and lived experiences to advance impact in communities. We’re currently a team of 6 full-time staff members and  4 part-time analysts. We work with consultants as needed.

We also have a Board of Directors:

  • Erik Doyle, Chair / CBRE
  • Carol Weld King, Treasurer / Morris, Manning & Martin
  • Cate Sullivan, Secretary / Kelsey’s Sister / Educator
  • Andraea LaVant, LaVant Consulting
  • Colleen Kelly, Harvard Kennedy School
  • Elizabeth Grigsby, Golden Gate Regional Center
  • Lindsay Johnson, J.D. Candidate, Georgetown University
  • Shaina Li, Social Construct
  • Stephanie Cornell, Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation
  • Swathi Bonda, Brookfield Properties
  • Will Goodman, Strada Investment Group

And an advisory council:

  • Caitlyn Fox, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative
  • Chan U Lee, Devine & Gong
  • Chris Beda, Wabash Partners
  • Erick Mikiten, Mikiten Architecture
  • John O’Farrell, Andreessen Horowitz
  • Rob Wagner, Sares Regis Group
  • Jessica Carosello, Salesforce

Together with our partners, we focus on building disability-forward, affordable housing across the U.S. and leading advocacy that makes those communities possible.

Home For More

Kelsey’s favorite sign was more. Like her, we believe more is possible for our communities and neighbors. 

Learn Center

The Learn Center provides tools, policy guides, reports, and resources for advocates, housing developers, and community organizations. Resources are free to access thekelsey.org/learn-center.

Partners

We bring together a wide range of partners and supporters to make inclusive, disability-forward housing possible. 

Donors & Investors

  • Chan Zuckerberg Initiative
  • The Kuni Foundation
  • Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation
  • Legacy Venture
  • The Sobrato Organization
  • The Weinberg Foundation 
  • Silicon Valley Community Foundation
  • Google.org
  • The City of San Jose
  • The City and County of San Francisco
  • & generous individual donors

In-Kind Donations

  • Holland & Knight
  • Perkins & Coie
  • Wilson Sonsini
  • WRNS Studio
  • VTBS Architects
  • Mikiten Architecture
  • Carmel Partners

Advocacy Partners

  • Autistic Self Advocacy Network
  • Housing California
  • Disability Rights California
  • Lanterman Housing Alliance
  • Center for American Progress
  • CA State Council on Developmental Disabilities
  • Access Living
  • Non-Profit Housing of Northern California
  • DOnetwork

Get Involved

You can support The Kelsey’s work in the following ways, listed below. If you have questions on how to get involved email us at hello@thekelsey.org.

  • Work with Us

We team up with real estate partners on development opportunities, policy organizations to create both statewide and national policy recommendations and community organization partners on shared goals or projects. All can contribute to articles for our Learn Center to create tools for our community.

  • Host a Fundraiser

Online fundraisers can happen on your preferred platform, including a Facebook fundraiser for The Kelsey, and invite friends and family to join. You can also host in-person fundraising events that direct funds to The Kelsey. Email hello@thekelsey.org for more information. 

  • Share your Story

Sharing how housing has impacted you in a good or bad way can explain to others why building more inclusive and accessible housing is needed in the Bay Area and throughout the U.S. Your story can cover your challenges, dreams, and successes with your housing experience. It will help to shape future communities and inform policies. Email us at hello@thekelsey.org if you are interested.

  • Join the Movement

Be an advocate for affordable, accessible, and inclusive housing in your community by participating in local housing organizations and sharing with your city leaders why it’s important to you, and why we need more of this type of housing in your area.

  • Donating 

You can support The Kelsey by making a donation. You can make a donation online or give offline by mail donations to: The Kelsey, 1460 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94103. If you have any questions about donating you can email hello@thekelsey.org

As a 501c3 organization, donations are tax-deductible, meaning you can apply this as a deduction when you file your annual taxes. If needed, our Employer Identification Number (EIN) Number is 84-2909645.

Key Terms

  • Amenities: Features of the building that you can use, most commonly for free, but not always
  • Area median income (AMI): Income limits that are set in relation to the area median income, eg, 20% AMI, 50%, 80% AMI—to identify household eligibility in income-restricted housing units. AMI is the midpoint of a region’s income distribution–half of the families in a region earn more than the median and half earn less than the median. 
  • Cross-sector partnerships: Partnerships from many different industries and sectors. For example partnerships with people from the housing sector, technology sector, and government. 
  • Disability-forward: To center on the perspective and experiences of people with disabilities and recognize that designing spaces, policies, and programs for disability access and inclusion advance opportunities for everyone. Disability-forward values disability as an identity that is natural, welcome,  and visible and creates spaces where people of all identities are seen and supported. 
  • Fair Housing Act: This law doesn’t allow housing discrimination because of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or disability.
  • Government sanctioned: A part of a law that enforces a penalty for not following part of the law or a reward for following that part of the law.
  • Inclusion Concierge: A person who will live onsite in our buildings and build a community for our residents of all abilities, as well as connect them to outside supports and services. This is a position The Kelsey has created and designed.
  • Inclusivity: Equally including people of different backgrounds, abilities, and beliefs; and supporting them fairly without favoring one group over another.
  • Informal support networks: This can be a friend, coworker, or group an individual is a part of that supports continued learning and life improvement. 
  • Social Innovation: Using new ideas to solve social, government, and community problems better than the existing solutions
  • Transit-oriented neighborhood: A neighborhood where people have access to public transportation