The Victor & Lorraine Honig Initiative for Bay Area Social & Economic Justice

The Victor & Lorraine Honig Initiative for Bay Area Social & Economic Justice makes grants available for organizations working to advance social, economic, and environmental justice in the greater Bay Area. It honors the legacy of the Honigs’ work to promote housing for low-income families, the rights and welfare of workers and immigrants, the creation and protection of urban green space, the production of politically engaged media, and youth advocacy.

Grants are intended to provide two years of funding for a new and needed position in a nonprofit organization, thereby helping grantees initiate projects that they would otherwise be unable to do.


Past Awardees

2023: Nuestra Casa

Nuestra Casa was awarded a two-year grant to fund a Water Justice Fellow. The organization was selected for its:

  • Commitment to and impact in East Palo Alto, a community that has struggled with access to safe and affordable drinking water due to a myriad of unjust historical reasons. 
  • Goals that address fundamental issues and can create structural change. Nuestra Casa aims for the root cause, in addition to addressing the symptoms. 
  • Years of successful community outreach and organizing in East Palo Alto that focuses on education, leadership development, and community-driven advocacy. 
  • Ability to successfully balance drinking water expertise with the skills to successfully support the community where it is. Nuestra Casa’s plan for water justice in East Palo Alto rests on its vision for empowered community members taking active roles in the decisions that affect them, all in a sector that is notoriously fragmented and highly technical.
  • Board and staff who come from East Palo Alto and fundamentally understand the community needs and issues at play.

2022: California Coalition for Rural Housing

California Coalition for Rural Housing was awarded a two-year grant to fund a policy and advocacy position. The organization was selected for its:

  • Explicit focus on farmworker and tribal housing, which often does not have the same access to resources as California’s coastal communities.
  • Advocacy on noteworthy policies, especially for tribal communities.
  • Track record of policy achievements.
  • Clear plan for  policy priorities, including a California Tribal Housing Grant Program, earmarks for the state low-income housing tax credit, a Disaster Housing Recovery Emergency Loan program, repeal of a State Constitution article that requires voter approval for affordable housing, and an affordable bond proposition, among others.
  • Acknowledgement of the ways that housing policy often runs up against tribal sovereignty, and the hard work it takes to bridge that gap.
  • The 20-year leadership development component of the CCRH’s programs that focuses on BIPOC leaders.

About Victor and Lorraine Honig

A black and white photo of Victor and Lorraine HonigThe Victor & Lorraine Honig Initiative for Bay Area Social and Economic Justice fellowship honors the legacy of Victor and Lorraine Honig’s efforts to make the Bay Area more equitable, just, and humane.

Victor was born in the Bronx, while Lorraine grew up in San Mateo, California. The two met in 1948 at a May Day parade in New York City, both having been politically active for many years. A year later they married and moved to San Francisco, where they would live for the rest of their lives.

They continually engaged in political movements in San Francisco. They addressed national issues as they joined organizations working against nuclear testing, participated in groups to oppose McCarthyism, and became regulars at demonstrations and sit-ins for civil rights, for the rights of California farmworkers, and against every war the US government chose to wage: from the Korean War in the early 1950s through the Vietnam War to interventions in Central America, and the subsequent war in Iraq. They also became active in Jewish organizations that criticized Israel for its occupation of Palestinian territories, a move that made them unpopular with their liberal Jewish friends.

They were also intensely local in their activism. From their arrival in San Francisco through the 2010s they tirelessly worked for social and economic justice. Victor was at the forefront of what has been called the “Freeway Revolt,” successfully opposing a network of proposed freeways in San Francisco. Appointed to the Human Rights Commission in 1967, he devoted himself to efforts to halt the Redevelopment Agency’s plan to develop neighborhoods of San Francisco south of Market Street. The refusal of the city government to, in his words, “prioritize human rights over business rights,” was the major cause of his subsequent resignation from the Human Rights Commission. In the years that followed, he spoke out about almost any instance in which “the city’s budget prioritized projects such as Candlestick Park, the Yerba Buena Center, and parking lots over the needs of individuals for housing, welfare, school, transportation, and library services.” In the final two decades of his life, he began to transform properties originally acquired by his father-in-law, mostly surface parking lots, into low-income housing which he built in collaboration with Mercy Housing in the Tenderloin and south of Market.

Lorraine, who was trained as a social worker, worked in some of the most underfunded schools in San Francisco. In addition to continual participation in civil rights and anti-war projects she became active in Coleman Advocates for Children and Youth, at one point earning an award from the San Francisco city government for her work. She advocated tirelessly for improving staff working conditions and combatted gentrification everywhere she lived. Along with Victor she spoke out about the lack of low-income housing in San Francisco: In one letter to the SF Chronicle Lorraine expressed outrage at individuals who opposed the conversion of housing in the Presidio to below market-rate units. “It is because of Lorraine and Victor,” one neighbor acknowledged, “that we became active in saving our neighborhood from bad development and creating an activist community.”

In collaboration with Victor and continuing after his death, Lorraine also launched and managed the Limantour Fund. This fund took their belief in the importance of radical and grassroots organizations and put it into action by contributing to the Silicon Valley Toxic Coalition, the Arab Resource and Organizing Center, the South of Market Community Action Network, Asian Communities for Reproductive Justice, the Freedom Archives, the Lorraine Hansberry Theater, and the San Francisco Community Music Center, among many more.

Victor and Lorraine spent their lives combining activism, professional skills, and philanthropy to oppose violence, racism, corruption, and gentrification. They supported Bay Area low-income residents, immigrants, women, and the LGBTQ community, and fought for the creation of urban green space as well as politically engaged media. This fund honors the work they did creating a better Bay Area for all.

If you have any questions about eligibility, fit, or any other aspect of the Initiative, please contact us.

Funded by The Victor & Lorraine Honig Initiative for Bay Area Social & Economic Justice at Tides Foundation