April 3, 2023–OAKLAND, CA
Jacob Boesch is one of Merritt’s 2022-2023 Merritt Scholars. He is currently studying Urban Studies and Planning at San Francisco State University and is in his final semester of his last year. Jacob shared that he took a 13-year pause on school and, during that time, worked in a lot of different fields. When he returned to school, he came back with the intention to do something that could positively impact the community. Living in San Francisco, Jacob witnesses the gaps in services and housing that impact the community. His wife works at a San Francisco-based non-profit focused on providing services for unhoused communities where Jacob also worked part-time while finishing his degree.
Through this experience and his class work in planning, he felt drawn to affordable housing development. His ability to zoom out on a project and its problems has made him feel he can make a larger, widespread impact. At SFSU his Urban Studies and Planning degree takes a social justice lens and brings attention to institutions that guide policy and the realities of the housing crises. Jacob’s coursework has also focused on the disproportionate injustices in housing and the work the affordable housing industry is going through to make affordable housers and leaders reflect the communities they serve. Jacob feels that Merritt Scholars has helped him gain the tools he needs for real-world application, connections with fellow scholars and connections at conferences and other events.
Jacob had two professors recommend the Merritt Scholars program to him as he was focusing on affordable housing as his area of interest. He shared that “returning as a student after an academic gap it feels really encouraging to feel aligned with what I want to do.” Jacob’s appreciation of Merritt Scholars started at the beginning when he could tell it was real people behind the program with the ability to ask questions and actually receive answers.
During his time as a Merritt Scholar, Jacob has learned how intertwined and supportive the affordable housing community is. “Everyone is coming to affordable housing and solving the housing crises from a different angle, but they all converge on one goal: get people housed. It feels like mission is really fueling people to be in the industry,” said Jacob.
Merritt Scholars gave Jacob the nudge to reach out to people about what they do and how he can build his affordable housing career. “I have been able to talk to so many people from management level all the way to Senior VPs and CEOs. People have made themselves accessible and they want to talk to you and help you join the industry because we all want the same thing, to build housing.” Jacob believes that Merritt Scholars helps give you the confidence and opportunity to meet people that could help you in your career and teach you something valuable.
At a Merritt’s annual Partner’s Event, Jacob had the opportunity to talk to EAH’s CEO, Laura Hall. Through this initial conversation Jacob was able to get an internship three days a week at EAH. It has been an amazing learning opportunity that allows him to focus on his interests while attending school and gain valuable experience. He has found an amazing community at EAH and feels it’s been a dream come true for him. “Everyone has been so great, and I still can’t believe the amount of support I’ve received and the time and energy EAH puts into their interns to be involved,” said Jacob.
Jacob is looking forward to finishing his B.A. this Spring and to continue his career in affordable housing. Congrats on finishing your degree, Jacob, and thank you for being a present and involved Merritt Scholar. We are excited for you to join the collective efforts to bring more affordable homes to California!
About Merritt Community Capital Corporation
Merritt Community Capital Corporation is a nonprofit dedicated to our mission to provide equity capital for affordable housing exclusively to California. We do this by partnering with mission-aligned affordable housing developers throughout the state to ensure the most critical communities are developed and maintained for low-income residents. Since 1989, Merritt has created and/or preserved 11,000 affordable homes, through investing over $1.2 billion in 26 separate funds, providing housing for over 29,700 people.