Share Your Housing Story!

We’re partnering with California Community Builders to support policies aimed at turning the dream of homeownership into reality for middle-income residents in Orange County (OC). With soaring housing costs, building more infill, multifamily, for-sale homes is crucial to opening up new opportunities for homeownership in our community. 

    Middle-income families often find themselves caught in the gap between earning too much to qualify for affordable housing assistance yet not enough to comfortably afford a home in OC’s competitive market. That’s where we aim to make a difference.

    But what exactly do we mean by “middle income”? Here are the figures based on the Area Median Income (AMI) in Orange County as of 2023:

    1. $127,800 for a family of four
    2. $102,250 for a couple
    3. $89,450 for a single person

    These numbers highlight the financial realities faced by many OC residents striving to achieve homeownership. Despite working hard and earning decent incomes, many find themselves priced out of the housing market, unable to secure a mortgage or afford the high down payments and closing costs associated with homeownership.

    That’s why it’s essential to address the housing needs of middle-income earners through targeted policies and initiatives. By building more affordable and accessible housing options, we can empower middle-income families to achieve their dreams of homeownership and create a stronger, more inclusive community for all.

    But we can’t do it alone. We want to hear from you — the aspiring homeowners of Orange County. We are looking for people to illustrate the trends in CCB’s most recent study. Your stories, experiences, and insights are invaluable as we work towards creating a brighter future for homeownership in our community.

    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.