Meet Our Housing Team
From housing policy and advocacy to sharing best practices,
our Housing Team is devoted to the goal of housing affordability for all.

Matt Huerta, Housing Program Manager


Matt has over 20 years of experience in affordable housing and community development. He has developed hundreds of affordable housing units across the San Francisco and Monterey Bay Areas. He has led nationally recognized housing programs as a former Executive Director of Neighborhood Housing Services Silicon Valley. Matt serves on the Board of the California Coalition for Rural Housing. He earned a B.S. in Community and Regional Development from the University of California at Davis where he also served as the President of the Associated Students during his senior year. Matt has lived in Salinas since 2005. He enjoys exercising, playing basketball with friends and spending time outdoors with wife Diana Huerta and four young children. 

Rafael Hernandez, Housing Program Associate


From community organizing, filmmaking, teaching, consulting work, and volunteering, Rafael has over 20 years of experience working for immigrant and underserved communities throughout California and in multiple countries abroadHe’s taught thousands of grade school students and many others at Hartnell college, was a volunteer teacher for gang youth at Rancho Cielo, and has worked with countless farmworker families in supporting their children’s education in the Salinas Valley. He focuses on housing because he sees housing as central to people’s lives. 
Rafael earned his B.A. in Sociology from the University of California at Berkeley, and his Masters in Public Administration at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. He is an Education Pioneers Fellow, an award-winning documentary filmmaker, and speaks four languages. He is an avid practitioner of mixed martial arts and writing rap poetry. Above all, he is a committed father whose favorite thing in the world is being with his son.
Ashley Gauer, Program Manager, Special Projects


Raised in one of the most multi-cultural, geographically isolated population hubs on earth, Ashley realized the importance and value of community and collaboration early on. She went on to deepen her sense of community in San Francisco, where she earned a BA in Bio-Psychology and Minors in Public Service and Philosophy. She holds Certificates in Business Administration and TESOL amongst others, has studied and volunteered across three continents and helped launch social enterprises and schools in Cambodia to support education and economic mobility. Ashley has a longstanding history in international education, non-profit administration and program management working with a diverse set of stakeholders in both urban and rural settings.

Ashley obtained two Masters at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey (MIIS), in International Education Management and Public Administration. She helped MIIS earn its Fair Trade School certification, and launched the Institute’s first ‘Impact Faire’, a pop-up marketplace to support fair, mission-driven social enterprises. An ongoing student of Earthship Biotecture, yoga, sustainable and equitable economic and community development, Ashley is an advocate for radically sustainable buildings, closed-loop systems, local food production, alternative healing modalities, circular economies, co-ops and social entrepreneurship. She is a maker of sorts, and an outdoor adventure junkie.

Ashley values conversations and experiences that spark innovative, entrepreneurial ideas to solve some of the most pressing issues of our time. It is in her blood to connect and engage people, especially our youth. She has a passion for social change organizations, and is excited to support MBEP’s initiatives.

Elizabeth Madrigal, Housing Associate


Monterey Bay Economic Partnership (MBEP) is pleased to introduce its new housing associate, Elizabeth Madrigal.

Hailing from the Salinas Valley, Madrigal shares a deep passion for the Monterey Bay region and all who call it home. Describing herself as a passionate advocate for increasing equitable access to affordable housing, Madrigal recognizes the utmost importance of working towards creative solutions that will alleviate the housing crisis our region is facing.

“Growing up, I saw both sides of not having affordable housing, from living in precarious housing situations to having the stability of residing in affordable housing, and have firsthand experience of what that can bring to one’s life,” says Madrigal. “I truly believe everyone deserves to have that same living situation, for themselves and their family.”

Madrigal earned her BA in Political Science and Public Policy from the University of California, Berkeley. While a student at UC Berkeley, she was a part of the second cohort of the Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California’s Bay Area Housing Internship Program, a paid internship program that trains low-income college students of color to jumpstart careers in affordable housing development and project management. Subsequently, Madrigal worked for an affordable housing non-profit in San Francisco’s Mission District in which she focused her efforts on transit-oriented developments and acquisition/rehabilitation projects.

Madrigal first met MBEP’s Housing Team while interning in a program that Housing Program Manager Matt Huerta helped facilitate, and as a Hartnell College Sociology student of MBEP Housing Associate Rafael when he was a Sociology instructor there.

Madrigal is elated to join the MBEP team and looks forward to working towards sustaining our thriving region and ensuring a safe and affordable home for folks in our community.