The winners of the 2018 NMA Housing Awards were announced at The Housing Conference last week in New Orleans. We're excited to recognize the amazing work that these housing agencies have done for their communities!
First launched in 2007, the NMA Housing Awards were created to recognize individual agency performance and honor excellence in the affordable housing industry. The awards are open to housing authorities and associations throughout the United States, who may enter in two categories: the Development Award, and the Resident Service Award. Recipients of the Development Award include new construction, green initiatives, property improvements, and out-of-the-box financing, while the Resident Service Award honors leaders in community outreach and efforts to improve the future of families. Read on to learn more about this year's winners.
San Diego Housing Commission
Housing First San Diego exceeded its three-year goal of creating 3,000 housing opportunities for homeless residents in 18 months. Its landlord engagement and assistance program has created 1,855 housing opportunities for local homeless residents—the most of any Housing First program. Its Housing Our Heroes initiative has provided rental housing assistance to 1,000 of the county's homeless military veterans.
San Diego Housing Commission launched the current phase of Housing First in 2017 and has since directed $80 million in federal, city, and SDHC resources toward programs to create permanent housing opportunities for individuals and families experiencing homelessness or risk of homelessness. These opportunities provide a path to permanent housing for individuals and families in San Diego who would otherwise be in shelters or on the streets.
Valley View Senior Homes
Housing Authority of the City of Napa
Valley View is a 70-unit new-construction housing project for seniors 55 and older, restricted to extremely low and very low-income households. It includes both traditional apartments and cottages designed to blend in with the adjacent residential neighborhood, as well as a bocce ball court, clubhouse, and community garden. Services to residents include free internet and weekly social events.
The Housing Authority of the City of Napa used federal CDBG funding in addition to tax-exempt bond financing and grants to develop Valley View, which is significant for being the first senior housing project in the City of American Canyon and the first veterans' affordable housing project in Napa County. Its project-based vouchers are the first VASH vouchers awarded to HACN. It's also the first project in Napa County to provide project-based permanent supportive housing units through the community's recently redesigned homeless system.
2018 NMA Resident Service Award (Large Agency)
Philadelphia Housing Authority
PhillySEEDS is a non-profit affiliate of the Philadelphia Housing Authority founded five years ago by PHA's president and CEO, Kelvin Jeremiah, in order to facilitate raising funds and developing programs for residents in ways that PHA might not be able to do. Through a wide range of philanthropic funding sources, PhillySEEDS provides scholarships, develops community-based partnerships, and exercises financial flexibility to invest in and uplift PHA families through education, homeownership, and entrepreneurial endeavors.
A total of almost $1.3 million has been awarded to 343 residents since this award-winning program began in 2013. Money for the scholarships comes from PHA's operating budget, donations from corporate and individual program supporters, and funds received from vendors as part of their Section 3 commitments.
2018 NMA Resident Service Award (Large Agency)
Step-Up Apprenticeship Program
Worcester Housing Authority
In 2014, Worcester Housing Authority asked, "What can we do to end the persistent cycle of unemployment we see in our tenant families?" The main causes were lack of employable job skills, large gaps in work history, and a long list of social challenges. At that time, the unemployment rate at two of WHA's largest family developments was 80 percent. WHA realized that intensive case management would be a necessity to help its families maintain long-term employment.
These discussions led to the creation of the Step-Up Apprenticeship Program, a recognized two-year Massachusetts state training program that provides a technical training curriculum and on-the-job training for WHA residents. The goal of the program is to provide residents with access to education, job skills, and employment opportunities. For many of the participants, Step-Up is their first job. Four apprenticeship disciplines are offered: apartment prep, landscaping, custodial work, and administrative assignments. Since the program was launched, 35 apprentices have successfully graduated and achieved full-time employment in both the public and private sectors.
2018 NMA Resident Service Award (Small Agency)
Bringing Generations Together
Central Falls Housing Authority
Last year, the Central Falls Housing Authority teamed up with the Local Initiatives Support Corporation of Rhode Island to launch the Bringing Generations Together program. The intergenerational program pairs teens with seniors for projects like snow removal, farmer's market outings, healthy cooking, crafts, storytelling, and culturally rich and diverse activities. It brings residents out of their rooms and tackles isolation head-on, developing valuable relationships between seniors and youth.
The program has recently received a two-year grant of $120,000 to expand the intergenerational programming to four new communities in Rhode Island. Each community follows its own path to becoming age-friendly and helping ensure that resources reach underrepresented communities at greatest risk for disparities.
2018 NMA Resident Service Award, Honorable Mention
Forest Preserve Experience
Housing Authority of Cook County
The Forest Preserve Experience is a five-week summer program that introduces high school-aged residents from HACC's HCV and public housing programs to physical work outdoors on conservation and restoration projects. Each week, time is devoted to learning about the local environment, and the teenagers enjoy the opportunity to participate in hiking, canoeing, and other recreational activities.
HACC uses the fees it collects by acting as its own developer in public housing rehab transactions to help fund the Forest Preserve Experience, and HACC employees create and distribute all marketing materials to garner interest from residents. The program also includes supplementary activities, such as a "Smart Money" class at a local community college. Many of the teenagers in the program earn their first paycheck through FPE, and the class gives them a financial framework as well as a taste of what it feels like to be in a college setting.
Thank you to all the hardworking and dedicated agencies and housing professionals who took the time to submit entries. As always, there was an abundance of incredible entries to review. Visit the link below to sign up for notifications about next year's awards and conference!