Meet SCANPH Board Member Tara Barauskas
SCANPH Board Members – the strength behind its success – are geographically diverse and serve as experts, practitioners, and advocates for supporting policy and programming that addresses the needs of economically disadvantaged individuals and families who are most in need of affordable housing. Our team is grateful to be backed by the decades of experience and expertise of the board, who reflect a diverse and representative body of SCANPH organizational members.
SCANPH will introduce each of our board members and share background about the leadership we count on to guide our initiatives.
Tara Barauskas currently serves as the board’s Policy Committee Chair. She joined Community Corporation of Santa Monica in 2016 as the Executive Director. She is responsible for the overall management of the organization and achieving its strategic goals and vision. Ms. Barauskas has been working in the affordable housing industry since 1999, in both the for-profit and non-profit sectors. During this time, she has developed over 20 affordable housing projects throughout California, and has overseen development activities for a non-profit that produces permanent supportive housing for people who are homeless in the Los Angeles area. Tara’s passions are affordable housing, creating equity and social justice in communities, and sustainability. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree from California State University, Long Beach, and earned a LEED AP (Homes) credential from the US Green Building Council, and a Living Future credential from the International Living Future Institute.
Why were you interested in joining the board of SCANPH?
I was impressed by the advocacy efforts and results achieved through SCANPH’s organizing and wanted to be part of supporting those efforts.
What is the best part of your job?
As a SCANPH board member, I love to work with colleagues across our industry—they are all smart and dedicated—and I learn something new every time we meet or work together!
Working in affordable housing has been a blessing—I love this work because it provides equity to our region and helps people who deserve to live in high-quality homes. It’s great working on the Westside — challenging, yes—but meaningful. Offering people the opportunity to live near places they work with high-quality schools and wonderful neighborhoods is very gratifying. Plus, my staff is awesome.
How did you first get involved in the affordable housing sector?
I fell into the industry completely by accident, and so glad I did! I worked for KB Homes Multifamily Affordable Group part-time while I finished school—having no idea what it was I’d be doing. One day I walked into one of the affordable housing buildings and had an epiphany—that I absolutely loved it and wanted to be part of it.
What project are you most proud of and why?
Every project I’ve worked on has been my baby, so I can’t pick a favorite from my children! Every project has been meaningful, as we’ve fought battles, won victories, and have the scars to prove it. One special one that comes to mind is a project in Fullerton I worked on at A Community of Friends that had units for people who were homeless and living with mental illness. Those were some brutal battles, but the project is now almost done with construction and I hope it’ll serve as an example of the kinds of projects that are needed in Orange County (and everywhere).
If you could enact one policy change with the snap of your fingers, what would it be?
Allow 100 percent affordable housing (and/or Permanent Supportive Housing) projects to get all entitlements and be fully funded within six months so they can start construction faster.
What about you may surprise people?
I’m an avid camper and hiker. Our work is very intense, so I really appreciate being out in nature to decompress and be rejuvenated. I recently camped in Australia and that was a great experience.
If you didn’t live in Southern California, where would you live?
Probably Lithuania—it’s where many of my family members live. I love the slower pace and beautiful nature there. The food is great too.
If you could trade places with any other person for a week, famous or not, living or dead, real or fictional, with whom would it be?
I am a huge President Obama fan and would love to understand personally his perspective having been president for eight years—what that was like, what he is proud of, what he wished he could change, etc.
Do you have a motto or personal mantra?
Be the change you want to see in the world.