How the Collaborative Keep Oakland Housed Became a HUD Secretary's Award Winner

Thursday, February 23, 2023 - 10:19 am
Logan McDonnell

When Logan McDonnell was appointed Executive Director of the California collaborative Keep Oakland Housed, it meant more than a career milestone: it was personal.

“Looking back at my childhood after the 2008 crisis, how my father fell so far behind on his mortgage, that spoke to me in regard to our mission,” says McDonnell.  “Just thinking about how that’s not a rare occurrence. It’s a reality for a lot of people in America and really in the Bay Area.” The mission of Keep Oakland Housed is to stop eviction due to financial insecurity. Or, as McDonnell says, “to stop homelessness before it happens.”

After its founding in 2018, Keep Oakland Housed quickly garnered attention in the Bay Area for its sustainable model, and later for its responsiveness to community needs in the face of COVID-19. “Through a humanitarian lens, you’re saving people from trauma,” says McDonnell. “Once they become unhoused, it’s hard to get out of that state, and it’s far more likely to happen again once you do get out of it.”

Keep Oakland Housed has now prevented over 8,500 Bay Area households from experiencing homelessness. But before it spun off, it was a branch of work initiated by the San Francisco Foundation. The meaningful collaboration between government and philanthropy that created Keep Oakland Housed won the San Francisco Foundation the 2022 HUD Secretary's Award for Public-Philanthropic Partnerships.

For 11 years, the HUD Secretary’s Award has been presented in partnership with the Council. The award acknowledges powerful community development resulting from collaboration between government agencies and foundations. All foundations, including Council non-members, are invited to apply for this award. The deadline to apply for the 2023 award has been extended to Friday, March 3!

The story of Keep Oakland Housed begins with a partnership. In 2018, the San Francisco Foundation convened three local nonprofits: Bay Area Community Services, Catholic Charities East Bay, and East Bay Community Law Center. Together, the four organizations designed a program to combat homelessness and received funding from the City of Oakland. Using the three prongs of legal representation, emergency financial assistance, and supportive services, the newly minted Keep Oakland Housed distributed over $16M by the end of its pilot phase in October 2021. While originally designed as a three-year pilot program, the scalable nature of Keep Oakland Housed drew attention, and after the San Francisco Foundation won the HUD Secretary’s Award, the project’s momentum accelerated. In 2022, Keep Oakland Housed spun off from the foundation and became a permanent part of Bay Area Community Services, one of its founding organizations.

Projects like Keep Oakland Housed, which has been both financially and culturally healthy for the local community, are especially well-positioned to win the HUD Secretary’s Award. Another winning quality was the program’s responsiveness to community feedback under changing circumstances. Keep Oakland Housed kept families sheltered throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. “The truth is, people were hurting even without the pandemic. And people are still feeling the effects of the pandemic,” said McDonnell. “People are still hurting, and we want to be here for that.”

If you’re proud of a collaborative project with government that yielded meaningful results within the last year, we want to hear about it! Apply for the HUD Secretary's Award by March 3, 2023. This year’s winners will be recognized in person at Leading Locally in Denver, CO! We can't wait to read your stories of impact.

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