Jonathan Cook named new executive director of Sacramento Housing Alliance

Advocacy group Sacramento Housing Alliance has named a new executive director, with an eye toward playing an active role in what could be a big election year in 2024.

Jonathan Cook, previously the executive director for the Solano Pride Center, has taken the top role for the group dedicated to advocating for more affordable housing in the region.

“I’m excited. This agency is very collaborative and has worked with some broad-based organizations,” Cook said, listing the Environmental Council of Sacramento and Sacramento Investment Without Displacement among them.

Cook, a North Bay Area native who’s worked in nonprofits for about 10 years, said his experiences in social services led him to take an interest in housing. Often, he said, someone’s inability to get or keep a roof over their head represents a barrier to getting help.

Being able to advocate for change is what attracted him to the role at SHA, he said. The group will play a lead role in what he said he expects to be a 2024 ballot measure, in the city of Sacramento or possibly all of Sacramento County, to create a permanent funding source for affordable housing.

Along with that, he said, the alliance will also need to continue working on strategies such as displacement mitigation to keep people in the homes they have. Higher rents in the last decade are believed to be a contributing factor, if not the primary one, in the region’s increase in people who are unhoused during that time frame.

“The landscape we’re finding ourselves in, we’re able to get a bunch of really good bills with multiple strategies for more housing at all levels,” he said, noting how the state’s shortage of housing has emerged as a flashpoint issue in state government.

Along with advocating for more money for affordable housing and permanent supportive housing, Sacramento Housing Alliance also needs to keep pressure on local and state officials to follow existing laws and housing elements to allow such housing to be built, he said.

“We’re excited with the climate we’re in,” he said. “Housing is at the forefront of so many decisions.”

Cook succeeds Rachel Iskow, who headed SHA on an interim basis after previous executive director Kendra Lewis stepped down late last year to take on a new role with the Sierra Health Foundation. Cook began in his role with SHA earlier this month.

Before his five-year stint at Solano Pride, an advocacy group for the LGBTQ+ community, Cook was communications director for the Rainbow Community Center of Contra Costa County.


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