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MMHF Team Spotlight - Co-Founder and Board Member, Jeff Gaus

The Missing Middle Housing Fund is fortunate to have a growing and diverse group of business and community leaders working together to create more workforce housing solutions. Our hope is that you will learn a little bit more about each of us - our backgrounds, interests, and passions – and how we are united by a shared sense of purpose and commitment to creating more affordable workforce housing.


Meet Jeff Gaus, Founder and CEO, The Provenance Chain Network

Jeff Gaus cooks up one of his specialties, Bay scallops on a green apple Caesar salad with an apple vinaigrette dressing.

Jeff Gaus has been a process and technology disrupter since elementary school, where he was known to color outside of the lines and pull apart toys to see how they were built so he could reconstruct them to perform better. His knack for tinkering, combined with a passion for optimizing performance, have earned him the reputation for being a serial “starter of things”. He was a Founder of the Oregon Business Academy, whose mission is to educate and inspire the next generation of business leaders, as well as an early evangelist of blockchain technology through the Oregon Enterprise Blockchain Venture Studio. Work in this field ultimately led him to his current role as the Founder and CEO of the Provenance Chain Network, a blockchain technology company that brings transparency to commerce by tracking product lifecycles.

 

But those who know Jeff understand that family and community service is really at the heart of everything he does. He describes himself as a Pennsylvania boy, state school educated, husband of thirty years, and father of two adult sons; and his purpose is to leave the world a better place. This is ultimately what drove him to find a better way to design and build homes so that everyone can have access to shelter, a fundamental human need. He was inspired after watching an episode of the British TV series, Grand Designs, which featured Facit Homes, a manufacturer of prefabricated homes from customizable components built on-site. Their design process enabled homes to be built quickly without the high cost of labor or factory overhead typically associated with new home development. The idea to find a new design system for building, and double the rate of housing production in Oregon in half the time and cost, became the catalyst for the Missing Middle Housing Fund.

 

When he does find spare time, Jeff can be found in his woodshop at home or experimenting with a new recipe in the kitchen. His approach to both hobbies mirror his professional endeavors – understand how things get made and find techniques, skills, and processes to improve them.

 

Get to know more about Jeff:

 

Why were you drawn to the mission of the Missing Middle Housing Fund?

To accelerate economic development of our communities, we must build homes differently. In the United States today, we are still building like we did in medieval times, with skilled laborers using the same design principles, tools, and processes on-site. If we want different outcomes, we need to set a new course for design systems, processes, and supply chains that can scale over the long term. I believe the work that the MMHF is doing can help us get there by bringing together disruptive technologies and processes driven by enthusiastic, aggressive, entrepreneurial minds.

 

What role do you play on the team?

As the Co-Founder, I recognized the need for this work to be done. Additionally, as a Board Member, I have helped to connect the dots between the ideas and the people by recruiting the talent, seed capital, and supporting key relationships with primary investors, such as Umpqua Bank. I have enjoyed watching the organization grow its reach throughout Oregon and beyond and was happy to play a part as an opening speaker at the Let’s Build Portland workforce housing solutions summit that the MMHF sponsored at Autodesk this May.

 

What are some of your interests and passions? 

I love to cook! I consider myself a free-range cook who studies different recipes from all types of cuisines (Korean, Japanese, Mediterranean) and make them my own. I will sometimes ask a restaurant chef how they made a dish I really enjoyed. For example, during a weekend at Skamania Lodge with my wife, we had the most delicious porkchop with pomegranate-cranberry sauce. I asked if they could share the recipe and the chef came out and wrote it on a napkin.

 

Why is the development of more workforce housing so important to you? 

Housing is a critical pillar for economic growth. For example, in the chips and semiconductor industry, if Intel invests $36B to build more capacity and create 10,000 new jobs in Oregon, where are these workers going to live? Too many Americans are living paycheck to paycheck and can’t afford to live in or near the communities they help to thrive.

 

I like to describe the vision for addressing the replicability of homebuilding with the LEGO-IKEA-HYUNDAI model. First, LEGO makes the components that are designed to be standardized, interchangeable, and can be assembled in a different way; IKEA creates the assembly process (think furniture that breaks down to be flat-packed); and HYUNDAI manufactures a product that delivers only the features that specific customer segments value and can afford.

 

If we want to change the equation, we must invest in policies, designs, supply chains, and assembly processes that scale and will support production of 1 million new housing units per year and sustain this rate for the next ten. I plan for the MMHF to be at the forefront of this innovation. Period.

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