The mission of Mutual Housing California is to develop, operate and advocate for sustainable housing that builds strong communities through resident participation and leadership development.
Incorporated in 1988, Mutual Housing was formed as a partnership of neighborhood residents, business representatives, housing advocates, and local government dedicated to improving housing opportunities for lower income families. The Mutual Housing founders’ major objective was to create a locally controlled nonprofit that would be a force for revitalizing low-income communities by strengthening neighborhood assets–both the housing and the neighborhood leaders. By acquiring deteriorating multifamily structures, they envisioned that Mutual Housing could leverage private and public capital to renovate properties and turn them around into safe, affordable and well-functioning residential communities. Similarly, by attracting investment to construct new housing on vacant in-fill lots, Mutual Housing would add to the local supply of safe, affordable housing and eliminate the hazards often associated with vacant lots.
As important, Mutual Housing was created to help stabilize neighborhoods by identifying and developing leaders. By encouraging residents to participate in decision making in their communities, Mutual Housing would develop future local leaders — people who cared about the future of their neighborhoods and would organize others to increase the safety and well-being of other residents. These original founding objectives remain the same today.
Mutual Housing offers a permanent solution to the housing needs of California’s diverse families. With residents taking a key role in overseeing their properties and developing programs through site-specific resident councils, communities are created in which residents have a vested interest. These councils, working together with management, develop house rules, review financial reports, plan and evaluate resident activities, attract outside organizations to host on-site programs, orient new residents, and educate to prevent infractions of rules. Councils and issue-specific site committees provide leadership in the identification of resident and community needs and in raising resources to fill those needs. These include youth development programs, education and economic development resources, safety and security programs, and recreational facilities.
Mutual Housing owns and operates 1,071 homes, housing over 3,200 residents. Some of our communities are designed and constructed by us on vacant in-fill lots; others are acquired and rehabilitated by Mutual Housing. Our team of community organizers provide leadership development support to resident leaders who are active in increasing the participation of other residents. Our social work team, under the direction of an MSW professional, identifies service programs to support vulnerable individuals. We value the diversity of our resident members and the varied gifts they bring that they may contribute back to their community and to our organization. This involvement leads to positive outcomes in the health and stability of families and the entire community.
To support residents and build on their assets, Mutual Housing continues to develop programs relevant to our members’ lives. Our financial capability program varies from community to community and has included financial mentoring, group workshops, peer lending circles, and youth financial coaching. Our digital literacy program has a goal to close the divide between those members of our society who have ready access to the Internet and computers, and those who do not. We are in the process of equipping all our properties to provide free Internet access to all resident households, and we make computers and training available in our on-site computer labs. In some communities, we provide free or low cost donations of individual computers to families, and in others we host computer laptop lending libraries. Our Culture of College initiative was piloted to send the message to families that college is a realistic option for our resident youth. Our goal is to harness the resources of the entire community and our organization to support children and their families in making college accessible and affordable. Our Green Leaders program enlists residents with an interest in sustainability to learn about the green aspects of their homes and to educate their fellow resident members about an area of sustainability which they are passionate about. Resident leaders at each community identify other programs and providers for activities that may be of interest to residents at their properties, including senior exercise, community gardening and nutrition, after-school tutoring and homework clubs, English and citizenship classes, disease prevention and a the list goes on.
Mutual Housing is known for its cutting edge work in bringing innovative housing programs to the Sacramento region. In 2002, Mutual Housing developed the first multifamily housing property in the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) service area to incorporate solar energy. In 2011, Mutual Housing constructed a multifamily development with the highest Build it Green rating in the North Central Valley. In 2015, Mutual Housing developed the nation’s first rental housing development to be certified Zero Net Energy. We are currently planning the nation’s first rental housing development to be certified Positive Net Energy. We are also planning another ZNE community, this one to be the region’s first LGBTQ welcoming senior housing community.
Mutual Housing staff, board and resident leaders are available to speak to groups and lead tours of our communities. We also host monthly tours of a select property. These tours are open to the public. RSVP at http://www.mutualhousing.com/news-events/buildingup/.