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Rene Cazenave

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Ren‚ Cazenave

Resident of San Francisco

Ren‚ was born in December 1941 in San Mateo, California. He died at home June 27, 2010.

He attended Serra High School and Carlmont High School, graduating in 1959. He graduated from USF with a B.S. in International Economics and a Masters in Community Development and Public Administration. He was a Junior Officer in the U.S. Navy from 1964 to 1968.

Ren‚ settled in San Francisco where he was a community organizer and campaign manager for progressive issues for 40 years, dedicating his life to affordable housing, equality, and social justice. He worked to win the passage of Proposition T in 1976, establishing District Elections of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.

He was executive director of the San Francisco Information Clearinghouse, a community-based nonprofit providing technical information and advocacy assistance to organizations involved in progressive community development and the empowerment of lower income residents.

With his collaborator Calvin Welch, Ren‚ founded more than 30 years ago the Council of Community Housing Organizations (CCHO), a coalition of 24 San Francisco affordable housing organizations. CCHO's many achievements include the creation and preservation of more than 20,000 affordable housing units. CCHO was instrumental in restructuring San Francisco's land use law through the 1986 passage of Proposition M, which prioritized protection of affordable housing. More recently, CCHO helped pass the 2006 San Francisco Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance, the most progressive in the country.

Ren‚ was a founding board member of the Community Housing Partnership, a San Francisco nonprofit organization serving formerly homeless individuals. He collaborated with the Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California Affordable Housing Nine-County Network to coordinate the Bay Area campaign for Proposition 1C, a 2007 $2.85 billion regional housing bond measure. As a member of the Mayor's Office of Community Development Citizens Advisory Committee, he provided a true community voice to guide the City's funding decisions.

From the time of its founding, Rene served as technical and financial advisor to the community based non-profit radio station KPOO.

He assisted the Institute for Civic and Community Engagement at San Francisco State University with the creation and implementation of leadership development, civic engagement, and service learning projects and Urban Curriculum courses. He also provided student and staff mentorship.

A leader, mentor, exceptional organizer and educator, Ren‚ helped train generations of activists and housing advocates. Known for his hard work, irreverent humor, and disdain for the limelight, he dedicated his life to making San Francisco a place where people of all cultures, races, and economic status can live and thrive.

Ren‚ was a loving and dedicated family man. He always did his best to make time for his son Lucien's various activities and was quick with advice and guidance, always offering support and encouragement, which will be sorely missed. Lucien could not have had a better role model. It was very comforting for Ren‚ and his family that his final days could be spent at home under the loving care of his wife and his son's new family. Ren‚ is survived by his wife Sylvie, son Lucien, daughter-in-law Lauren, granddaughter Drew, sister Denise Baccala, and niece Ren‚e Lynn Van Deusen.

A celebration of his life will be held later on this month, on a date to be determined. Donations can be made to Kaiser San Francisco hospice services or to the charity of your choice.
Published in San Jose Mercury News/San Mateo County Times on July 4, 2010
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