Champion Spotlight – Sequoia

HIF Champion Spotlight

Embracing the guiding principles of giving back
As one of the largest privately held property management companies on the West Coast, Sequoia has more than 400 team members who provide unparalleled customer service to residents living in more than 16,000 homes. They believe it’s the little things they do for both their residents and team members that go a long way.

Sequoia embraces the guiding principle of giving back, and they believe that much of their success stems from relationships with the communities they serve. It’s not a task or a reminder to make an effort, it’s in their DNA. It’s what they do.

That definitely describes the Sequoia we know and love. They give so much to our organization from donated apartments for our Affordable Housing Initiative (AHI) to HIF Board Member, Carrie Caudill, their VP of Asset Management who has boundless energy and a results-driven approach in support our mission.

With us from the very beginning of AHI
For over 17 years, Sequoia has generously supported HIF through serving on our Board, Summit sponsorships, renovation projects, and more. It was no surprise that they jumped at the opportunity to be a founding property management company partner when we started the Affordable Housing Initiative in 2019.

This program leverages our extensive network of landlords and property management companies who typically have 2-3% vacancy rates so we can match qualified individuals and families living in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties with apartments at up to 50% below market rates for up to three years.

Currently, we have 59 AHI clients living in apartments less than a 30-minute commute to their jobs, 47% are teachers and school support staff, and 38% work in the nonprofit sector. On average, the reduced rent creates up to $12,000 per year saving opportunities for AHI clients.

“We are grateful to have this partnership with Sequoia. The eight apartments that they’ve donated from their La Valencia, Shadow Oaks, and Rosewalk properties, truly make a life-changing difference for each of our clients,” said Steve Sullivan, Executive Director at Housing Industry Foundation. “Their impact goes well beyond the $343,000 that they’ve donated in market rate rent. It’s priceless when you think about how it keeps vital community members here at home.”

“One of our five brand pillars is ‘change the game’ and it means to be solutions focused and learn fast,” said Carrie Caudill, VP of Asset Management at Sequoia. “The AHI program was exactly that for us. It’s a program solving an important problem that keeps teachers near the schools where they teach, nonprofit workers in the communities they serve, and healthcare workers delivering vital services. It was a no-brainer for us to be part of AHI.”

Collaborating on our client’s behalf
Our partnership is forged by a great working relationship between our Programs team and the Sequoia team. In particular, Sabrina Medina, Senior Community Manager at Sequoia has been instrumental in not only helping us place clients, but also takes care of all of the little things to make sure everything is running smoothly for them long after move-in day.

“It’s been so inspiring to work with the Sequoia Team. They are always ready to do whatever it takes to solve a problem, beat a deadline, and do everything with enthusiasm and humility,” said Inas Elmashni-Atawneh, Director of Housing Programs at the Housing Industry Foundation. “We are grateful for everything they do behind the scenes to make our AHI program work so well for our clients.”

Thanks to the Sequoia team, we were able to place Priscilla Barrios, a teacher who has lived in the Bay Area all her life, in their La Valencia property. Priscilla has lived in her apartment for 2 ½ years and it’s enabled her to save, be debt-free, and financially stable. In her words:

“I did not think that I would be struggling to afford the minimum of my needs since I have a good job. I chose a public service career as a teacher to serve my community and help our children grow. Even so, it was very difficult to make ends meet, save money, pay off debts, and support my family. I felt emotionally distressed, anxious, and stressed because rent took most of my earnings and I felt at risk of being homeless due to the high increase of rent in the Bay Area.
The AHI program and my apartment at La Valencia gave my family the support it needs. We have been able to save and be debt free for 2 years. They really help accommodate your needs and work with getting you a place that is close to your job to avoid long commutes. I couldn’t be more grateful for this program.”

The Sequoia team was also instrumental in placing Elsa Acevedo in their Shadow Oaks property in June of 2021. Elsa has lived in San Mateo County for more than 20 years and never had plans to move away. She’s worked as a Health Services Coordinator for Izzi Early Education Agency in San Mateo County for 10 years. She loves her job helping families with health and educational needs, and knows what it feels like to be one of their low-income clients looking for affordable daycare and afterschool programs. Here’s how she describes the benefits of the AHI program and her apartment at Shadow Oaks:

“I feel very lucky to be part of the AHI housing program. It hasn’t been easy as a single mom, but it hasn’t been impossible either when you find the best resources in our community, like HIF and Sequoia.
I have always fought hard to give my daughter stability with good housing and this program has helped us have a good life without the stress of rent that is difficult for me to pay-off. We no longer have to share a two-bedroom apartment with two families and feel overwhelmed without any privacy.
The AHI program has also helped me manage my savings and that has given me the opportunity to help my daughter with her college. Since we moved to Cupertino my daughter has been emotionally happy, positive, and very excited attending West Valley College which is 20 minutes from where we live. Thank you for all your support!”

In closing, we’ve asked Sabrina to reflect about what this program means to her. “I’ve worked at Sequoia for over 15 years, and I know we walk the talk when it comes to giving back. It’s been a pleasure working with Inas Elmashni-Atawneh at HIF,” said Sabrina Medina, Senior Community Manager at Sequoia. “Our partnership’s north star is each client’s wellbeing and ability to stay securely housed in our communities. So many of these individuals are serving our children every day, and that further fuels my passion to keep them here in one of our properties.”

Read more about Sequoia.

HIF is fortunate to have so many great supporters that are truly the Champions of our mission. Without our board members, volunteers, donors, and community agency partners, we could not serve families and individuals in need with our Homeless Prevention Programs. Check out other HIF Champion Spotlights.

Creating communities where people can expect more out of everyday life