Jesus Magaña brings a deep understanding of the power and impact of affordable housing to his work at Housing Trust Silicon Valley. As the Finance Manager, he holds seven years of experience in budgeting, forecasting, data analysis, and strategic planning.
“As a product of affordable housing, I’m grateful for the work of affordable housing developers and CDFIs like Housing Trust,” says Jesus. “I’m thankful to be a part of it now in my career.”
Jesus spent his childhood in Mexico, growing up on a ranch from the ages of 2 to 8 with his mom, dad, and two sisters. “We decided to move back to the U.S. because my mom wanted us to have access to education,” says Jesus.
Their local school on the ranch only went up to the 5th grade. When his eldest sister graduated, her only option to continue her education would be to bus to the next town, which was very far and expensive. His family saved and sold their belongings to prepare to fly back to the United States.
They first arrived in Los Angeles and lived with their aunt for a few months. His sisters were able to begin school right away. However, the local schools didn’t have space for Jesus to enroll. “My mom said this wasn’t going to work. ‘My son needs to go to school.’ So we contacted my Dad’s side of the family and moved to East Palo Alto.”
In East Palo Alto, Jesus and his family shared a two-bedroom apartment with another family, totaling roughly 9-10 tenants. “It wasn’t the nicest neighborhood, and it wasn’t the best of conditions,” recalls Jesus.
After living in cramped quarters for about four years, a friend told Jesus’ mom that new affordable housing apartments were being built right around the corner of their neighborhood. His mother was skeptical at first, but their friend convinced them to take a chance and apply. They both got in and were set to move into the affordable housing apartments by Eden Housing along University Avenue.
The new 3-bedroom, 2-bath apartment meant that they would have enough space for their family. For the first time, they had their own living room, and Jesus would have a room of his own.
“Maybe it was fate or meant to be – I remember we moved in on Christmas Day,” says Jesus. “It was a place we called our own home for the first time ever. This was a pivotal moment for us. It meant living in a space where we felt safe. It was clean and affordable, and it gave us a sense of pride and stability for the first time.”
After school, Jesus and his sisters would help his mom, who continued to work two jobs. But for the first time, they felt stable and no longer feared making rent. “I can now say, my mom made her dreams come true. Her dreams were for her kids to access higher education,” shares Jesus.
He and his sisters are all first-generation college students and proud graduates of four-year colleges. “Living in affordable housing allowed us to save for the next big step in our lives. It gave us the space to be surrounded by the teachings of our parents and not external influences as much. It gave us a safe space to focus on the things that were important.”
Jesus lived in the Eden Housing apartments for close to 15 years, even returning home after college to save up for the next big step, which was buying a house. He met this milestone and bought his first home in Richmond, where he lived for a year before moving back to the Peninsula for work.
Today, he lives in Menlo Park and is raising his ten-month old baby with his family. Outside of work, his hobbies consist of spending time with his son, who is beginning to walk, talk, and take swimming classes.
Jesus is excited to continue building his career in finance and contribute to Housing Trust’s mission of increasing access to affordable housing and improving living conditions for all. For those seeking affordable housing opportunities, he advises to not shy away from asking or inquiring about opportunities.
“When in doubt, just ask, call that number or send that email,” says Jesus. “If the waitlist is full, join the waitlist. Before you know it, you’ll be next in line and you’ll be happy you made the decision.”