Rodolfo Rodríguez

Rodolfo Rodríguez
Location: Los Angeles, California Cohort Start Year: 2019 Project Topics: Leadership Development, Public Policy, Racial Justice, Restorative Justice Population Served: At-Risk/Vulnerable Populations
Principal & Founder
The Policy Gap

As Founder and Principal of The Policy Gap, Rodríguez dismantles affordability crises across the United States by bridging the gap between local public officials and the communities they serve. He partners with policymakers to design and champion bold, actionable solutions while placing impacted communities front and center in every policy in any city. Rodríguez’s work tackles a large range of affordability crises including affordable housing, healthcare, education, workforce, and other opportunities for systemically oppressed communities.

STRATEGIC INITIATIVE: The Disruption Lab National Social Enterprise for Affordable Housing
The Disruption Lab is a national social enterprise that partners with public leaders and impact investors to co-design policy and funding solutions that dismantle affordability crisis issues at the local level. An affordability crisis is layered by equity issues, including affordable housing, livable wages, healthcare and social service systems, and more. The Disruption Lab is positioning itself as: (1) an influencer to policymakers and investors and (2) a silo-breaker across fields and equity issues within an affordability crisis. The proposal is twofold: (1) establish The Disruption Lab as a social enterprise and (2) secure the first business contract that dismantles a local-level affordability crisis issue. By leveraging the grant, I secured his my business contract with Austin City Councilwoman Vanessa Fuentes to understand and address the affordable housing crisis impacts on District 2 communities. A University of Texas study found that, of 80,000 District 2 residents, 70 percent are Latinx, and the district is at high risk of gentrification and displacement. The project will morph into an interactive housing ecosystem tool, with centralized data of all housing providers in the city (i.e., housing supply, project pipeline, eviction rates, waitlist length, etc.).

Growing up in El Paso, TX, Rodolfo Rodríguez grew up in a deeply impoverished neighborhood where extreme violence was a regular occurrence. Bearing witness to a drive-by shooting as a young child and learning shortly thereafter that his teenage sibling had fallen victim to gang violence inspired Rodríguez to devote his life to improving historically neglected communities like his own.

During his undergraduate studies, Rodríguez would see the curriculum through the unique lens of a young man whose community was left behind by the promises of public servants. A scholar of Architectural Studies, Public Health and Urban Planning, he now recognizes how frequently good intentions and unintended consequences intersect, often leaving communities to navigate quagmires well beyond the scope of their resources. Over the past 12 years he’s stayed focused on advancing his education and evolving into a public servant who enjoys thinking critically and engaging the voices of the community with the opportunities innovation presents while using history to help inform the applications of policy and design.

Rodríguez’ academic accolades and scholarly recognitions include: earning a full scholarship to the University of Texas at Austin, receiving global acknowledgment of his innovative policy work via the inaugural 2021 Apgar Thought Leadership Award from the world’s largest professional organization for socially responsible land use and real estate experts, The Urban Land Institute and currently serving as a Culture of Health Leader with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, one of the top 10 largest philanthropic entities in the world and the largest health endowment in the United States. Combined with over a decade of experience working in local government, Rodríguez is a seasoned disruptor of systemic oppression.

Rodríguez is acting on his promise to catalyze meaningful impact by bridging the gap between communities and their local governments through his consultancy, The Policy Gap.

Click here to watch Rodolfo’s Legacy Project video.