[FILLED] Arvin Housing Element Advancement Initiative (AHEA)

Host: California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD)
Openings: 1
Project Focus: Affordable Housing
Skills Needed: Community Engagement, Project Management, Stakeholder Engagement, Technical Writing,

Remote or On-Site Placement

Hybrid – The fellow will be required to come into the office a minimum of two times a week.

Service Needs & Plans

Situated in southern Kern County, the City of Arvin is in a disadvantaged rural community determined to improve the quality of life for its residents. Linguistically isolated and impoverished, the community faces disproportionate burdens relating to water, air pollution, pesticides, arsenic, and TCPs due to its proximity to stationary and mobile polluting sources and its unique geographic location. Due to the nature of the smaller city and despite limited staff capacity and funding options, Arvin must continue to work towards environmental justice, specifically in the housing sector.

Arvin has the potential to grow as a vibrant city with abundant housing and economic opportunities for residents. The typical household (people families occupying a residence) in Arvin is greater than the regional average, meaning households may experience overcrowding and need more affordable options. The city wants to expand housing options, align with new legislation affecting housing and zoning, and provide opportunities for residents to live vibrant lives in Arvin. COVID-19 struck hard in Arvin, as seen throughout the nation in vulnerable communities. The devastation impacted our local economy and the city’s physical condition, including our parks, homes, and businesses. Arvin seeks a fellow to launch new housing programs and initiatives based on community engagement and support staff in research and education around new housing legislation. The City’s Community Development Department seeks support in community engagement, research, and facilitation relating to various housing programs, emphasizing building capacity in the planning department. In this way, the fellow will better meet resident needs at the nexus of environmental justice and housing, addressing historical inequities at all angles.

Project Description

1.The Arvin Housing Element Advancement Initiative (AHEA) aims to facilitate the implementation of Arvin’s sixth cycle housing element programs, fostering innovative solutions to meet the city’s affordable housing needs. As part of this initiative, the fellow will play a vital role in Arvin’s Housing Advisory Committee and the Accelerating Community Engagement (ACE) program, ensuring the voices of the community are central to shaping housing solutions. The initiative seeks to align the city’s housing strategies to achieve its Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) objectives, collaborating closely with city staff, stakeholders, and community members to develop and execute actionable plans.

2. The fellow will assist with the implementation of Sixth Cycle Housing Element Programs: Collaborating with city staff to assist and facilitate the strategic planning and execution of housing programs outlined in Arvin’s sixth housing element cycle. This includes identifying funding opportunities, utilizing regional and state resources, and streamlining processes to increase the availability of affordable housing units.Participate in Arvin’s Community Outreach: Engage deeply with both the Arvin Housing Advisory Committee (AHAC) and Accelerating Community Engagement (ACE) program by providing essential staff support, facilitating workshops, and fostering an environment where community members can contribute to housing strategies. This involvement aims to ensure community-driven decision-making in the housing development process. Collaborate on the RHNA Strategy: Work in tandem with city staff, regional planners, and stakeholders to refine and implement strategies addressing Arvin’s obligations under the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA). This includes data analysis, research on housing legislation, and advocacy to meet and exceed RHNA targets through equitable and sustainable housing solutions.

3. The implementation of a comprehensive and community-backed housing element that addresses current and future needs. Increased capacity of the city’s staff to manage and support housing initiatives. Enhanced community involvement in housing decisions, leading to more inclusive and equitable outcomes. Achievement of RHNA targets through innovative and collaborative strategies.

4.The Arvin Housing Element Advancement Initiative represents a forward-thinking approach to addressing the housing challenges in Arvin, California. By integrating community engagement, strategic planning, and regional collaboration, AHEA aims to create a more inclusive, affordable, and sustainable housing landscape for all residents.

Desired Skills

The City of Arvin seeks a hardworking, motivated, and team-oriented fellow to implement community programs related to community development, housing, and more. The role requires someone who can work semi-independently, conduct research, proactively coordinate with other staff members, and project partners, develop well-written educational materials, and think creatively when solving problems and developing products that support the community’s needs. An ideal fellow will have a passion for housing, environmental justice, and community engagement. Knowledge in both these areas is critical to transition to working in a climate action space on a local level. Knowledge of state housing law and policy, basic planning principles and concepts, and a basic understanding of city government functions would be preferred. Proficiency in various tools like Microsoft products and Calenviroscreen and research and data analysis skills would be ideal. Additionally, experience working and living in disadvantaged communities and Spanish language fluency would be highly desirable.

Organization & Workplace Highlights

The City of Arvin can provide incredible local government experience to catapult the careers for young professionals desiring to pursue public service, local government capacity building, or jobs in the climate space. Due to the nature of our smaller city, Arvin is connected to dozens of local and state agencies and community-based organizations to facilitate networking opportunities and tasks related to these different arenas. As a small city, a fellow can understand firsthand the public engagement processes, community development, and elected officials’ roles. As a mentor and site supervisor, I strive to collaborate with my fellow to encourage creative solutions to arising problems and needs in the community. Generating leadership opportunities is essential to professional development. I will continue to provide my expertise in fostering community partnerships, program implementation, technical writing, and many opportunities for a CivicSpark Fellow. The City of Arvin is a collaborative, diverse, and service-driven workplace.

The city staff council is committed to providing high levels of service to the community and is willing to do whatever it takes to make a difference in Arvin. The City receives multiple Institute for Local Government Beacon Awards, which recognize commitments to climate action through sustainability best practices and energy savings. The Kern Council of Governments also honored Arvin with a Regional Award of Merit for innovative transportation. A small but mighty staff collaboratively addresses environmental, economic, and social challenges to foster a more vibrant community. Arvin residents are active environmental justice advocates and participate in community-based research, community gardens, and local and County level government. Arvin City also regularly engages with environmental justice groups to support the residents’ concerns. Arvin is also an Ab617 community and has monthly meetings with steering committee members from the Arvin and Lamont areas, regularly engages with environmental justice groups to support the
residents’ Incorporated in 1960, the City of Arvin’s growth, like much of the surrounding cities in Kern County, is driven by its agricultural community.

Community Highlights

Situated in the foothills of the Southern Sierra Nevada mountains and a short drive from the Sequoia National Forest and the Kern River, which hosts some of the best river rafting in the county, there is no shortage of adventure surrounding Arvin. With Bakersfield 20 miles to the north and Los Angeles 100 miles to the south, Arvin sits at the crossroads of rural and urban experiences enriched by a diverse and connected community.

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