Melissa De Genova

Forty Under 40 Winner 2016: Director of development, Vancouver Resource Society, Age 34

There has been plenty of discussion around affordable housing, but for Melissa De Genova it’s time for action. As a native Vancouverite, a military spouse and a millennial, De Genova has had first-hand experience addressing the affordable housing issue and she regularly highlights the importance of it.

The issue prompted De Genova to run for municipal office, and she has made it a cornerstone of her career. In 2011 she joined the Vancouver Resource Society (VRS), a non-profit organization that uses innovative fundraising techniques to provide housing to people with disabilities. As the director of development, De Genova manages a $90 million real estate portfolio and aims to use that value to increase the availability of affordable housing.

“I do believe that organizations including VRS do thrive from charitable organizations,” De Genova said. “However, what I’ve tried to move forward to is a model that is financially sustainable and will see the equity in the properties that VRS already owns help to create more housing for people with disabilities.”

The fight for affordable housing is not new for De Genova or her family. Her father, Allan De Genova, founded Honour House, a residence for the families of veterans and first responders when they or their families fall ill or are injured, and where Melissa De Genova works as the fundraising chair.

As the youngest person on the Vancouver city council and the only millennial in the council chambers, De Genova is also concerned that many young people are being priced out of the city’s housing market. She personally has wrestled with the issue, having struggled with her husband to live in Vancouver, though she adds it has been well worth the sacrifice to live in the city she loves.

“I was compelled to run for city council to make sure that I had a seat at the table,” she said, “that I was there to provide the perspective of a younger person and for those people across the board, regardless of their age, who require accessible and affordable housing.”

Join us to celebrate the 2016 Forty under under 40 Awards January 25, 2017 at the Vancouver Convention Centre. For tickets and event info visit www.biv.com/events/40under40 .

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