Model & Strategy

The Kelsey accelerates and advocates for housing where people with and without disabilities, of all incomes and backgrounds, live together. Over 7 million Americans with developmental disabilities are pushed out of their communities because of a lack of housing that is affordable, accessible, and inclusive. The Kelsey solves for these challenges through an innovative housing development model, and by leading advocacy and field-building to make inclusive housing a reality for more people in every community. In all of The Kelsey’s work, they intentionally include the voices and ideas of individuals with disabilities as advocates, advisors, designers, and leaders.

Within 18 months of initial funding, The Kelsey has two Bay Area housing developments in their pipeline. The Kelsey communities solve for affordability by financing to include rents affordable to those at the lowest and middle incomes. The projects prioritize accessibility in design and location, building fully universally designed communities and siting them near transit, services, jobs, and amenities. Once operational, the communities will include The Kelsey’s signature Inclusion Concierge™, live-in staff who connect residents to each other, the services and support they need, and the broader city around them.

The Kelsey envisions a future where inclusion is the norm. They seek to create communities where all people, of all abilities, are included, connected, and housed.

At a Glance
Founded: 2016
Founder & CEO: Micaela Connery
Social Justice
Location of work: Domestic, West Coast
The Kelsey
San Francisco, CA
Make More Possible
Meet Micaela Connery

Micaela Connery and her cousin Kelsey O’Connor were born three months apart and went through every life milestone together. When it came time to live on their own, it took Micaela several months to find housing—but it took Kelsey almost eight years. Her family struggled to find a home that was supportive of her disabilities, while still letting Kelsey be part of the broader community. Micaela quickly learned housing wasn’t a challenge unique to Kelsey; less than 12% of adults with developmental disabilities had their own housing. She founded The Kelsey to change that reality.

Disability inclusion has been the center of Micaela’s entire life and career. She was the Founder and CEO of Unified Theater, which scaled to serve students with and without disabilities in over 100 schools and was acquired by Kids Included Together. As an undergraduate at the University of Virginia, Micaela led programs around community inclusion for individuals with autism. At the Harvard Kennedy School, she focused on disability housing models as a Fellow at the Joint Center for Housing Studies and a Social Innovation and Change Initiative.

Impact

The Kelsey measures their impact in three ways: unlocking capital, accelerating housing, and organizing communities. Unlocking capital enables housing development and organizing efforts. Flexible capital also allows The Kelsey to accelerate housing timelines and innovate new development models, tenant mixes, and operating strategies.

Unlock capital: To date, The Kelsey has unlocked over $17 million in public, private, and philanthropic support for inclusive housing. The Kelsey Ayer Station in San Jose was the first direct investment made out of Google’s $250M affordable housing fund.

Accelerate housing: The Kelsey has 225+ homes in development in the Bay Area for people with and without disabilities. Their first community on track to have residents move in within four years from acquisition.

Organize communities: With seed funding from The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, The Kelsey engaged over 300 stakeholders in their Bay Area Together We Can Do More Initiative. Their online Learn Center, publications, and technical assistance have provided inclusive housing guidance organizations who serve people with and without disabilities in housing nationally.