Webinar: From Bricks to Ballots: Analyzing Public Opinion and City Action on the Housing Crisis during an Election Year

A recent UCI poll of Orange County residents indicates that affordable housing and homelessness are pressing issues in our communal conscience, yet city policies do not necessarily reflect these priorities. Join us as we hear from Dr. Jon Gould, Dean of UCI’s School of Social Ecology, on what the public opinion data tells us and Dr. Alejandra Reyes, Assistant Professor of Urban Planning and Public Policy, who is researching the implementation of state housing laws in Orange County, shedding light on important housing-related policy shifts in some cities.

The question of how local governments are or are not responding to a regional and statewide crisis is particularly important in an election year, when voters will be choosing elected representatives at multiple levels of government. Can public opinion push decision makers toward county-wide or regional collaboration to address these pressing issues?

About UCI’s School of Social Ecology:
The nation’s first school of social ecology was established at UC Irvine in 1970 in response to high demand for more socially relevant research. For more than 50 years, the school has been an internationally recognized pioneer in developing interdisciplinary approaches to social problems. Its highly ranked faculty in criminology, law and society; urban planning and public policy; and psychological science engage in research and education to foster informed social action and make the world a better place.

About Dean Jon Gould:
Jon Gould is a distinguished scholar in justice policy, social change and government reform. He has held key positions in the U.S. Department of Justice and the National Science Foundation. He became Dean of the School of Social Ecology on Jan. 1, 2022. He is the author of five books and more than 100 articles and reports on such diverse subjects as erroneous convictions, indigent defense, prosecutorial innovation, police behavior, hate speech, sexual harassment and international human rights. Gould has filled a range of government leadership roles, including senior policy adviser in the U.S. Department of Justice and director of the Law & Social Sciences Program at the National Science Foundation. In 2015, U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts appointed him as reporter for a committee of the federal courts evaluating the operation of the Criminal Justice Act. Gould is a fellow of the American Bar Foundation, a former U.S. Supreme Court Fellow and a former trustee of the Law & Society Association. He received the Administration of Justice Award from the U.S. Supreme Court Fellows Alumni Association in 2017.

About Professor Alejandra Reyes:
Alejandra Reyes is Assistant Professor of Urban Planning and Public Policy at UC Irvine’s School of Social Ecology. Her research centers on questions of governance around housing policy, finance, production, and access – and highlights the critical influence of political and economic factors on housing and urban development. Previously, she was the 2018-2019 Postdoctoral Fellow at the Institute on Municipal Finance and Governance at University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy. She received her B.A. in Architecture at the University of California, Berkeley and a M.S. and Ph.D. in Community and Regional Planning at the University of Texas at Austin.

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Antonia Castro-Graham

Antonia Castro-Graham

Director of Energy Policy and Strategy, Americas for BayWa

Antonia is the Director of Energy Policy and Strategy, Americas for BayWa, a leading renewable energy project developer. Prior to this position she served as Vice President of a Public Affairs firm and spent more than twenty years working in local government. She served as the Deputy City Manager for the City of Fullerton and as the Assistant to the City Manager for the City of Huntington Beach. Ms. Graham led regional efforts and created the Orange County Recycling Market Development Zone and created a working group of cities to study community choice energy, eventually forming the Orange County Power Authority. She holds a BA in Political Science and American Studies and an MPA with a concentration in Public Finance from Cal State Fullerton (CSUF) as well as a a Master’s degree in Sustainability from Arizona State University. Ms. Graham also teaches courses focused on sustainability policy at CSUF and Cal Poly Pomona. Ms. Graham recently had a case study published in the book, Sustainable World: Approaches to Analyzing & Resolving Wicked Problems and was selected as the Arizona State University School of Sustainability Alumni of the Year (2018) and the 2022 CSUF MPA Alumni of the Year.

Natalia Hernandez

Natalia Hernandez

Housing Advocacy Community Organizer at People for Housing OC.

Natalia Hernandez serves as the current Housing Advocacy Community Organizer at People for Housing OC. She is a graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara with a degree in Political Science and Professional Writing Minor in Civic Engagement which became the foundation of her desire to promote equitable opportunities for marginalized populations. Natalia’s professional history consists of serving as an intern at nonprofit organizations such as The Learning Rights Law Center and The Santa Barbara Public Library Foundation as well as a published writer/editor for The Bottom Line Newspaper in Santa Barbara, CA.

Leonel Velazquez

Leonel Velazquez

Community Liaison at People for Housing OC.

Leonel Velazquez Rodríguez serves as the current Community Liaison at People for Housing OC. Leonel was educated at Cal State University Long Beach through its Community Scholars Program: Policy & Systems Change. Leonel believes that in order to be emphatic with the community, you must learn the community languages. He is a passionate advocate for bringing about systematic change from a culture of oppression to a culture of equity and firmly believes in the power of community voices coming together collectively to work towards a common good.

Jeff Gibson

Jeff Gibson

Communications and Campaign Consultant

Jeff Gibson is a Communications and Campaign Consultant with his firm Occidental Communications Group. Jeff has spent his career fighting to improve the lives of everyday employers, employees, families, and residents in California and across the country. As a longtime non-profit and corporate board member, the organizations he has helped found, lead, and serve have cared for children with cancer in over 200 hospitals globally, expanded physical education programs in more than 100 Southern California schools, and provided more than 1,000 holiday meals to homeless families in Costa Mesa through a door-to-door food drive.

David C. Smith

David C. Smith

Partner at Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP

David C. Smith is a Partner at Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP, providing legal counsel to land developers, conservation companies, for-profit and nonprofit organizations, and individuals at the intersection of law and government on land use entitlement, real estate development and regulatory compliance. His practice includes California’s climate change law (SB 375, AB 32, et al.) and water supply law (SB 211, SB 610), and state and federal endangered species acts. Other specific areas of focus are the McAteer-Petris Act, the federal Clean Water Act with the Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act, the National Environmental Policy Act with the California Environmental Quality Act, and California’s planning and zoning laws.

Nishtha Mohindra

Nishtha Mohendra

Chief Program Officer, Families Forward

Nishtha Mohindra is the Chief Program Officer at Families Forward, a nonprofit based in Irvine. Families Forward is dedicated to helping families in crisis regain financial stability and self-sufficiency with resources such as food, housing, counseling, education and other support services. Nishtha has a master’s degree in Social Work and more than 10 years of experience working with adults and families on issues related to homelessness, health, violence against women, mental health and addiction, oppression, and family crises in diverse settings such as the United States, Canada, and India. She currently serves on the Continuum of Care Board for Orange County, recently received the 2022 40 under 40 award from the Irvine Commerce Chamber, and was included on the OC Register's 125 Most Influential list for 2022.

Rona Henry

Rona Henry

Retired, Lingnan Foundation and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; Chairperson (Volunteer), Welcoming Neighbors Home, an Initiative of Tapestry Unitarian Universalist Congregation

Rona Henry retired from a 30-year career in philanthropy after serving in a variety of roles with including grant management and operations, national program management, program officer, financial officer and staff development. She now works nearly full-time as a volunteer advocate focusing on homelessness and affordable housing through the Welcoming Neighbors Home Initiative, a ministry of Tapestry, a Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Lake Forest, CA. Through service, education and advocacy, this ministry is striving to end homelessness in South Orange County. Rona is also an advocate for women's reproductive rights.

Daniel Gehman

Daniel Gehman

Principal Architect, Danielian Associates Architects + Planners

Daniel Gehman is the Principal Architect at Danielian Associates Architects + Planners, an architecture and planning firm dedicated to planning and designing trend-setting, forward-thinking homes and sustainable residential communities. Daniel is passionate about multifamily housing, loves working in dense urban and transit oriented environments, is sensitive to attainability, and is a big fan of modular construction solutions.

Ryan Aeh

Ryan Aeh

Senior Vice President, City Ventures

Ryan Aeh is the Senior Vice President, Land Acquisition for City Ventures in Irvine, CA as well as a Board Member on the Irvine Community Land Trust, a nonprofit dedicated to creating permanent and affordable housing in Irvine and Orange County. Ryan’s career over the past 20 years has been dedicated to the development of more than 2,500 homes in Southern California’s supply constrained coastal infill markets with experience in residential and retail real estate development. Notably, Ryan was named “40 Under 40” in Orange County by the Greater Irvine Chamber of Commerce in 2019.