Community Advisory Team (CAT)

The Empty Home Tax Community Advisory Team is a diverse group of community members committed to passing the Empty Home Tax to fund affordable housing in Santa Cruz. They provide input and advice to the Empty Home Tax Campaign to ensure the ordinance and the outreach for the campaign is serving and reaching across the entire Santa Cruz community.

Matt Nathanson

is a Public Health Nurse who has worked in Santa Cruz for more than 20 years at the intersection of Public Health and Homelessness. I am also a long-time union member and activist. The true public health solution to homelessness is affordable housing. The only way that working class people can continue to live in this city is affordable housing, not empty houses. The Empty Home Tax initiative will fund the construction of affordable housing in our community, which is why I will work to support it.


Camilla Hawthorne

is a critical human geographer and interdisciplinary social scientist broadly interested in the racial politics of migration and citizenship, inequality, social movements, and Black geographies. Her work engages critical human geography, diaspora, Black European studies, and postcolonial/feminist science and technology studies.


Camilla received her PhD from the Department of Geography at UC Berkeley in 2018. She currently serves as Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at UC Santa Cruz. She is a principal faculty member in UCSC’s Critical Race and Ethnic Studies program, and an affiliate of the Science & Justice Research Center and the Legal Studies Program. Her teaching is focused on race, immigration and citizenship; political economy; Black geographies; subjectivity and identity; and social theory.



Headshot of Lauren Turner

Lauren Turner

is a high school teacher who is passionate about helping students transition to adulthood. She is a wife and mother to two amazing children. In her spare time she volunteers with the Teen Kitchen Project.

Pablo Velasquez

Bio Coming Soon

Irene Juarez O'Connell

is a mentor, educator, and advocate for youth and young people in Santa Cruz County. Originally from Los Angeles, Irene came to Santa Cruz to study Public Art and Latin American & Latino Studies at UCSC. Having previously served the community in mentorship roles in local high schools and in the Santa Cruz Juvenile Detention Center, Irene joined FoodWhat in 2016 with experience in community organizing around youth violence prevention. She is passionate about the intersections where youth expression and creativity can meet empowerment for lasting, impactful change for their lives and their communities. Irene has been awarded a NEXTie for Artist of the Year 2017 Award and the Eduardo Carrillo Healing the Community with Art Award that same year.

Jeffrey Smedberg

is a labor activist who has experienced the power that people have when we work together in common cause. From his work as an environmental educator, he understands the climate impact of commuting that results from a shortage of housing for working people. As an occasional volunteer with the Warming Center, he sees the devastation to people's lives caused by a lack of housing. Convinced of the need for affordable housing, he was one of the principle organizers of the local rent control campaign in 2018. The Empty Home Tax is an innovative piece of the solution.