Yesterday at our fourth annual national housing conference in San Antonio, Nan McKay and Associates announced the four winners of the 2016 NMA Housing Awards. We first launched these awards nearly a decade ago to recognize excellence and innovation in the affordable housing industry.
Since then, we’ve been honored to read and evaluate a great number of worthy entries, and this year was no exception. Read on to learn more about this year’s winning agencies.
Indianapolis Housing Agency
Barton Tower is one of IHA’s largest and oldest public housing communities, set in an urban neighborhood vastly different than the one that existed in 1968 when the tower originally opened. During the last decade, the surrounding area became one of Indianapolis’ premier cultural districts, turning the site into incredibly valuable real estate. Facing pressure to close Barton Tower and sell the property, IHA instead chose to reinvest in the tower and develop the remaining, underused parcel into Barton Block. IHA used innovative mixed financing to create a community asset that includes public open space, new and renovated affordable housing, and new businesses while preserving 372 rehabbed public housing units.
Rockford Veterans Drop-In Center
Winnebago County Housing Authority
The Center provides supportive services to veterans and had been using shared, donated space with another nonprofit’s building. However, the Center was about to lose this space and the ability to provide services. When WCHA learned of the problem, they offered a large home recently acquired through the National Community Stabilization Trust (NCST) program as a rehab and repurposed building for the Center. The home was rehabbed over approximately 90 days, providing a like-new building with energy-efficient appliances, located next to public transportation and within a two-block radius of a pharmacy, retail shops, banks and restaurants. The work was so well-received that the city was able to pass a special zoning use permit in just 60 days.
Conversation Over Pizza
Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority
In August of 2015, the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority launched a community initiative, Conversation Over Pizza, to provide a platform for residents to engage in productive dialogue. The goal of this resident-driven approach is to address the societal challenges faced by residents. CMHA, law enforcement, and community partners have facilitated ongoing focus groups to discuss and develop viable solutions for reducing crime, violence, and other community challenges. By raising awareness, listening to the community and working with residents, COP serves as a catalyst for building stronger community relationships and safer neighborhoods. This program is the first of its kind and has already been replicated by other cities, creating a national model that originated at CMHA.
Full Circle Wrenching Crew
Lawrence-Douglas County Housing Authority
Full Circle is a year-round out-of-school program that provides youth receiving housing assistance with a positive and structured environment at no charge. Programs focus on empowering youth to develop new skills by trying new activities. As part of the program, children earned refurbished bicycles, helmets, lights, and locks. Once participants chose their bicycles, they learned how to properly put on a helmet, use and care for their bicycles and equipment, and ride safely. Full Circle Wrenching Crew promotes a can-do mentality along with the values of leadership, cooperation, and volunteerism by working with young people in a way that addresses their needs and wants. The responsibility, leadership, and maintenance skills gained through the program will benefit the participants for years to come.
The NMA Housing Awards is an annual event created to honor agencies that build bridges to the future and generate real change in their communities and the affordable housing industry. Entries for the 2017 awards will open this spring.