A stable, affordable home is the foundation for health, opportunity, and justice.
Recognizing that housing is a complex issue that requires a deep and thoughtful understanding of how housing is developed in our country, a core group of funders came together in 2016 to contribute their expertise to an effort to improve housing outcomes across our nation. But first, the group listened to housing stakeholders across the country. What we heard from across these stakeholders helped us to understand the opportunity and imperative to responsibly redesign housing systems across this country.
So, in 2018 we formally joined forces to establish FHO. To date, Funders for Housing and Opportunity have provided almost $20 million in investments to projects, organizations, and communities that otherwise would lack the support they need to advance thoughtful housing policies, narrative change, and innovative solutions that work. FHO continues to do this work from the understanding that our work at this moment is critical to the future of our nation and to the resilience of the communities most in need.
Funders for Housing and Opportunity (FHO) is a cross-sector, non-partisan, nationwide funder collaborative committed to strengthening the future of our nation by improving housing options and life opportunities for all Americans. We know that by targeting those most in need, we make it possible for more Americans to share in the prosperity of our nation and to participate in the opportunity that a safe, affordable home can provide. FHO’s partners and members – many of which primarily work on issues such as education, health care, poverty, and civil society – have come together because they all understand the importance of housing stability as a necessary and fundamental first step toward achieving the outcomes their foundations seek to advance. FHO believes that housing is a platform for achieving better life outcomes and thriving communities for all of us.
To commemorate FHO’s five-year anniversary, FHO in partnership with Stanford Social Innovation Review launched "Collaboration for Housing Justice", a ten part series that will highlight and explore key ideas, observations, and lessons from FHO’s housing justice efforts. Read and follow the Collaboration for Housing Justice series.
FHO has also published a report where we expand on an article we authored in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, Housing Justice and Systems Change Through a Funder Collaborative, and dig deeper into lessons we’ve learned about getting the most out of funder collaboratives to help the field learn in real time from this evolving and promising form of philanthropy. Find out more about the FHO Report on Funder Collaboratives.
Arnie Alvarez Mejia (He/Him) Operations and Grants Assistant
With a background in Legal Support, Administration, Logistics, and Operations, Arnie understands the importance of establishing a robust infrastructure for any growing organization. In his previous role as the Admin and Operations Specialist at RepresentEd Leadership, he oversaw their transition from a fully remote team to a hybrid operation, creating a space to best engage with the Oakland and Berkeley community. This effort culminated in a grand opening celebration alongside co-tenants Oakland Natives Give Back and The Hidden Genius Project. Arnie wholeheartedly believes in the transformative power of community to provide assistance and resources to people in need. A creative at heart, Arnie is also engaged in graphic design, creative writing, and podcasting. He earned his bachelor's degree in Sociology from UC Berkeley.
Jennifer Angarita (She/Her) Deputy Director
Jennifer brings over a decade of experience in community organizing, community development, labor, and philanthropy to Funders for Housing and Opportunity. Prior to joining FHO, she served as a Loan Fund Officer for BlueHub Capital, a national nonprofit Community Development Finance Institution (CDFI) where she led strategic initiatives and managed a diverse portfolio of social impact loans. Previously, she was the National Worker Center Coordinator at the AFL-CIO, where she worked to develop and deepen strategic partnerships between worker centers and organized labor. Her diverse social sector experience includes research and consulting engagements with the City of Cambridge, United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley, and Peace First. She has served as an Opportunity Finance Fellow, a New Leaders Council Fellow, and a Sheila C. Johnson Fellow at the Harvard Center for Public Leadership. Currently, she serves on the board of The Philanthropy Connection. Jennifer holds a bachelor’s degree with honors from Yale University and a Master in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School.
Jeanne Fekade-Sellassie (She/Her) Executive Director
After two decades of working in the affordable housing and community development sector, Jeanne joined FHO as its first Project Director in 2017. Prior to joining FHO, she served as Senior Vice President of NeighborWorks America’s national initiatives division, guiding programming and grant making in the areas of real estate development, asset management, green and healthy housing, homeownership, mortgage and commercial lending, foreclosure mitigation, community stabilization, and resident engagement. Previously, Jeanne worked at the Catholic Campaign for Human Development and she managed the Make It Your Own National Women’s Homeownership Campaign at McAuley Institute. Jeanne completed her undergraduate work at Seattle University, was an Applied Community and Economic Development fellow at Illinois State University’s Stevenson Center where she received her Master degree in Political Science, and served in the Jesuit Volunteer Corps in Boston, MA and Washington, DC.
Elisa Harrigan (She/They) Policy Strategist
Elisa is a disrupter, change agent, and bridge-builder in the philanthropic space. She has an extensive track record centering impacted communities and applying an intersectional equity lens to her work. Elisa brings almost 20 years of experience and expertise to FHO as an influential voice for housing justice in governmental, philanthropic, and nonprofit arenas. She is a visionary and big-picture thinker who uses a restorative and regenerative philosophy to problem-solving for community change. Prior to FHO, Elisa was the Executive Director of the Community Alliance of Tenants in Oregon, where she was named “Best Low-Income Tenant Advocate” by the Willamette Week for her work on renter organizing related to displacement and substandard housing issues. Most recently, she was a housing opportunities program officer, co-leading advocacy and racial justice housing strategies, and supported the investment programs for the Meyer Memorial Trust, one of the largest private foundations in Oregon.
Christina Ostmeyer (She/Her) Narrative Strategist
Drawing on her experiences in organizing, strategic communications, and policy advocacy, Christina firmly believes in the power of storytelling and collective action to create a better world. Before joining FHO, Christina served as the communications and development director for Kansas Appleseed Center for Law and Justice, where she managed direct communications work, media relations, event organization, and programmatic improvement based on data, evaluation, and collaboration. Christina is also a leader with KC Tenants, Kansas City’s citywide tenant union. Her roles on the strategy, press, newsletter, and orientation teams have been instrumental in achieving significant wins, including Tenants' Right to Counsel and securing $50 million for truly affordable housing. With a bachelor's in Journalism with an emphasis in strategic communication and a Master of Public Administration from the University of Kansas, Christina brings a unique blend of skills and knowledge to her work.
Charles Rutheiser (He/His), Annie E. Casey Foundation, Chair
Alyia Gaskins (She/Her),
Melville Charitable Trust, Vice Chair
Kristin Aldana-Taday (She/Her),
Conrad N. Hilton Foundation
Monica Valdes Lupi (She/Her), The Kresge Foundation
Mercedeh Mortazavi (She/Her),
JPMorgan Chase Foundation
FHO’s Steering Committee understands stable, affordable homes lead to improved opportunities and outcomes, especially for low-income populations.
The Annie E. Casey Foundation is a private philanthropy that creates a brighter future for the nation’s children by developing solutions to strengthen families, build paths to economic opportunity and transform struggling communities into safer and healthier places to live, work and grow. For more information, visit the Foundation’s website at www.aecf.org.
Ballmer Group supports efforts to improve economic mobility for children and families in the United States who are disproportionately likely to remain in poverty. For more information, visit www.ballmergroup.org.
The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation was created in 1944 by international business pioneer Conrad N. Hilton, who founded Hilton Hotels and left his fortune to help the world’s disadvantaged and vulnerable people. From its inception, the Foundation has awarded more than $1.6 billion in grants, distributing $114.9 million in the U.S. and around the world in 2017. The Foundation’s current assets are approximately $2.8 billion. For more information, please visit www.hiltonfoundation.org.
The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, one of the 50 largest private charitable foundations in the United States, is dedicated to meeting the basic needs of people experiencing poverty. The Foundation provides approximately $125 million annually in grants to nonprofits, primarily in the US and Israel, which provide direct services in the areas of Housing, Health, Jobs, Education, and Community Services. Grants support organizations that serve a range of populations, including older adults, women and children at risk, people with disabilities, and veterans, as well as the Jewish community. For more information, please visit https://hjweinbergfoundation.org/.
The JPB Foundation advances opportunity in the United States through transformational initiatives that empower those living in poverty, enrich and sustain our environment, and enable pioneering medical research. For more information, please visit www.jpbfoundation.org
The JPMorgan Chase Foundation combines its business and policy expertise, capital and data to cultivate thriving communities. The foundation provides significant, long-term, and data-driven investments in people and places to tackle barriers to opportunity and create the conditions for lasting change. www.jpmorganchase.com/impact
The Kresge Foundation is a $3.6 billion private, national foundation that works to expand opportunities in America's cities through grantmaking and social investing in arts and culture, education, environment, health, human services and community development in Detroit. For more information, visit the Foundation’s website at www.kresge.org.
The Melville Charitable Trust is the largest foundation in the U.S. exclusively devoted to ending homelessness. We invest in proven, lasting, and cost-effective solutions that enable people who have experienced homelessness to reclaim their lives. For more information, please visit www.melvilletrust.org.
Meyer Memorial Trust is grounded in a vision of a flourishing and equitable Oregon, Meyer is committed to investing in change at the systemic level to ease inequities and disparities. Find out more at www.mmt.org.
Oak Foundation commits its resources to address issues of global, social and environmental concern, particularly those that have a major impact on the lives of the disadvantaged. With offices in Europe, Africa, India and North America, we make grants to organizations in approximately 40 countries worldwide. More information can be found at www.oakfnd.org.
For more than 45 years the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has worked to improve health and health care. We are working alongside others to build a national Culture of Health that provides everyone in America a fair and just opportunity for health and well-being. For more information, visit www.rwjf.org. Follow the Foundation on Twitter at www.rwjf.org/twitter or on Facebook at www.rwjf.org/facebook.
Trinity Church Wall Street is a growing and inclusive Episcopal parish that seeks to serve and heal the world by building neighborhoods, generations of faithful leaders, and sustainable communities in New York City and around the world. We are guided by our core values of faith, integrity, inclusiveness, compassion, social justice, and stewardship. For more information, please visit www.trinitywallstreet.org.
Wells Fargo Foundation collaborates with nonprofits to improve people’s lives by focusing on housing affordability, financial health, and small business growth in under-served communities across the U.S.