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22 to watch in 2022: Sonoma County housing advocate Jen Klose

For more people to watch in 2022, go here.

Name: Jen Klose

Title or position: Generation Housing executive director

On the job since: 2020

Age: 52

Hometown: Born in Lawrence, Kansas, but moved to Sonoma County with her family when she was 1.

Why Klose is someone to watch:

A lack of affordably priced housing has long been a seemingly intractable issue for Sonoma County. But after the 2017 wildfires — which destroyed over 5,300 homes countywide, including 5% of Santa Rosa’s total housing stock — it became a full-blown crisis. So when Community Foundation Sonoma County brought together local leaders to chart a course for the region’s recovery after the fires, they settled on forming a nonprofit to advocate for new home construction of all kinds in hopes of bringing down housing costs.

Enter Generation Housing, which launched in early 2020 with the goal of convincing officials, business interests and residents that more housing, even in their own backyards, is in everyone’s best interest. The group’s executive director, Jen Klose, an attorney and former Santa Rosa School Board president, has led the group’s efforts to endorse residential projects, create marketing campaigns in support of growth and help local officials seek public grants affordable housing.

With local jurisdictions in 2022 set to draft long-term plans for meeting their upcoming state-mandated construction permitting goals, Klose is poised to put even more pressure on local officials to adopt pro-housing policies by expanding her coalition of housing advocates.

What others are saying about Klose:

“I envision Jen and Generation Housing continuing to be drivers toward housing and affordable housing development, and also ensuring that homelessness continues to be a top priority by our decision makers, both locally and regionally. If you look at their desire to provide specific solutions, and look at some of the decisions around impact fees, around density, around legislation that tends to be well intended, but hampers the actual development and construction of these communities. I see Jen and Gen H continuing to be a major driver for good policy making.” — Efren Carrillo, a former Sonoma County supervisor, is set to join the Generation Housing advisory board.

What Klose says about 2022:

“Our campaign will in part really be trying to address the myth that you can't be pro-environment and pro-housing. We do our work very much with a lens of sustainability. And we adopt the belief, which many environmental organizations hold, that we can actually make progress in our battle against climate change by developing, but by doing smart development. And that in fact, we need to be doing more development, and affordable development, where people work so that they can get out of their cars and start to reduce our carbon footprint.”

Ethan Varian

Housing and homelessness, The Press Democrat 

I've lived in California for most of my life, and it's hard for me to remember when the state hasn't been in a housing crisis. Here in Sonoma County, sharply rising housing costs and increasing homelessness are reshaping what was long considered the Bay Area’s “affordable” region. As The Press Democrat’s housing and homelessness reporter, I aim to cover how officials, advocates, developers and residents are reacting to and experiencing the ongoing crisis.

For more people to watch in 2022, go here.

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