July 24, 2018 Corey Smith

The Kelsey: Advocating for Disability Inclusive Housing

The San Francisco Housing Action Coalition’s (SFHAC) Regulatory Committee recently heard from The Kelsey, an non-profit organization in San Francisco working to create more housing for individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD).  Within SFHAC’s core mission to create more housing at all levels of affordability, the need for more IDD housing can not be overstated. Some of the data presented is staggering: less than 12% of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities rent or own their own home. 40% of those experiencing homelessness have a disability. Building new housing for people with IDD often takes 5-7 years just for site control, while the need to provide homes is immediate. In the Bay Area alone, 55,000 individuals with IDD and their families are impacted by this housing crisis.

The Kelsey’s founder Micaela Connery entered the disability sector with influence from her family, particularly her cousin Kelsey, but quickly discovered a much larger issue. After spending 18 months traveling and learning from different experts around the field, the lack of housing emerged as a critical aspect to long-term success for an underrepresented group of people. Connery found that while many were experimenting with new housing offerings, most were priced only for those with financial means and very few if any were inclusive. So, she decided to approach the solution from a housing development perspective.

Four years of research led The Kelsey’s team to determine that the best models are mixed-income, mixed-development housing with a unique support system in the form of an on site, live-in Inclusion ConciergeTM that serves as a resource to all residents, with and without disabilities. Making this model a reality involves working with both affordable and market rate developers, the public sector, and private funders to find a win-win situation for everyone.

The Kelsey often talks about the “social value”, especially seen in younger people, to have truly diverse communities. The idea of having an individual with a disability living next to someone without a disability and simply getting to know each other as neighbors, and perhaps friends, is not a lofty dream but the literal goal for The Kelsey. Real and genuine integration improves not only the lives of people with disabilities, but the quality of the community at large.

Recently, The Kelsey received seed funding from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative to conduct an 8-9 predevelopment and organizing process around designing and building inclusive communities in the Bay Area. This process entailed building three teams of cross sector stakeholders, one in San Francisco, one in the East Bay, and one in Silicon Valley. Lindsay Johnson joined The Kelsey to direct this initiative, having recently worked on homelessness at Tipping Point.

From SFHAC’s perspective, it’s the constant reminder that we need all different types of housing solutions, from our most vulnerable neighbors to the region’s newcomers, to seniors looking to downsize. Providing housing for ALL must remain a goal. We look forward to working with The Kelsey to improve the lives of all people.

To learn more about The Kelsey or to join a stakeholder team, contact their Director of Policy and Partnerships Lindsay Johnson at lindsay@thekelsey.org.

You can view their presentation to SFHAC’s Regulatory Committee by clicking below:

The Kelsey

Corey Smith

Corey Smith is HAC's Executive Director and can be reached at corey@housingactioncoalition.org.

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