March 2021
Passing the Torch
By Alexander H. Roberts, CEO and Executive Director
My friends, 
After nearly 30 years as founder, Executive Director and CEO of Community Housing Innovations, I am stepping down so that I may support the agency in other ways, and pursue the systemic change for which I began this journey. I am thrilled that the CHI Board has selected my successor, who possesses the skills and experience to run a $32 million agency that touches the lives of thousands of homeless and low-income people each year. He is Ronald Abad, the Senior Vice President of Acacia Network Housing, one of the largest agencies serving the homeless in New York City. Ron will begin on March 29, and I look forward to assisting in a smooth transition. (Read more about Ron here.)
Alexander H. Roberts
Ronald Rosado Abad
I am very proud of the work that we have done together since we founded CHI in 1991 with headquarters in my house in Rye Brook. We pioneered many new concepts, starting from developing the first supervised motels in Suffolk County in 1991, and then for the first time, placing homeless families in suburban houses scattered throughout Suffolk County. That merited a WNBC-TV story in 1994, which is part of this retrospective from 2011 (click here).

In the late 1990s, we developed scattered site supportive housing on Long Island, in 1999 receiving a national Award for Best Practices from HUD (the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development).
As homelessness exploded in the early 2000s, CHI spearheaded a new concept, turning single family houses into shelters called Supervised Family Residences (SFR). To everyone’s surprise, the SFRs and Supervised Singles Residences were accepted by neighbors and continue to provide a safe, nurturing environment for homeless families and singles to get their lives together and learn skills that would make them successful in permanent housing. A couple of years later, we developed a new shelter concept that allowed motivated homeless individuals more freedom and accountability, the Transitional to Permanent Housing concept (see more here).

With our over-arching goal to enable low-income families and single people to become self-sufficient, we gave them the opportunity to become homeowners. Our counseling and down payment assistance program for first-time homebuyers is one of the most successful in New York State. Since 1997, we have administered over $17 million, enabling 750 households to purchase their first home without fear of foreclosure. This was our first project in 1997 in Peekskill.

We have been the go-to agency for five counties (Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, Orange and Dutchess) in times of crisis. In 2008, with the collapse of the housing market, CHI played a key role in its response, organizing a loan modification initiative that resulted in hundreds of Westchester families avoiding foreclosure. During the pandemic, with homeowners again threatened with foreclosure, we administered more than $300,000 in mortgage assistance in January to families who lost their income due to COVID-19.

I am so proud of the public stands we have taken, even if they were unpopular, whether it was fighting discrimination in suburban zoning, developing workforce housing in higher opportunity areas, or pioneering the new concept of transitioning the severely mentally ill to mainstream affordable housing (supportive housing). CHI co-founded the Westchester Workforce Housing Coalition to persuade communities to set aside at least ten percent of their new multifamily housing units for affordable housing. We were instrumental in getting the first multifamily project in the town of Harrison to require affordable housing.

But 30 years at the helm is enough for anyone, and it's time to bring someone new to lead the agency. I am confident that Ron Abad possesses the experience and vision to continue CHI’s vital work, enhancing community, improving housing opportunity, and always leading with innovation. I hope to continue to advocate for change, and to develop special projects to support the agency. Ron will inherit a strong executive team, consisting of our Chief Program Officer Nadia Sadloski and our Chief Financial Officer David Daniello, along with our directors who make it all happen. I am grateful to our former Chief Operating Officer Javon Trottman for her introduction of compliance, project management and quality assurance tools. While I feel blessed to have been able to work on meaningful change in the five counties in which CHI works, it is the people of CHI I will remember most.

I especially want to thank the selfless and committed colleagues who stayed with CHI for many years in helping me achieve the vision – people like our first Chief Program Officer for 20 years, Elizabeth Starr Thomas, our CFO for 24 years, Jerome August, our Long Island Director for 15 years, Rosemary Dehlow, our Hudson Valley Director for 21 years, Debbie Anderson, and many other employees too numerous to name past and presentwho contributed to CHI’s extraordinary growth and success. A special mention to retired CHI Board Chair Steven Brill, who led the agency for two decades. I would like to especially thank our current CHI Board of Directors, Chair Steve Gifford, Lena Anderson, Mary Brinson, Gerry FeinbergSharlett FraleyQuwane Johnson, Michael Puntillo, Jr., and Carolyn Stevens, who have generously volunteered their time and supported the agency through thick and thin.

Thank you for taking this journey with me.
March is National Social Work Month!
National Social Work Month is a time to celebrate our essential workers. Social workers help people address personal and systemic barriers to optimal living. Thank you to all CHI social workers – we are more grateful than ever for all you do for the people we serve. Hear more from CHI's own Amber Weis (case manager), Ramona Trent (shelter manager) and Janice Davidson (program manager) here.
Meet Julia Z.
First-time homebuyer Julia Z. found the home of her dreams, then lost it, then found an even dreamier home. Hear how CHI’s Home Ownership grants and counseling helped Julia’s Westchester home dreams come true! Listen to Julia's story.
Fighting housing discrimination
In a potentially historic fight for justice, a "sweeping new lawsuit" accuses 88 NYC brokerages and property owners of discrimination against people holding federal housing vouchers. “CHI has been a leader in the fight against source-of-income discrimination, and has worked with other groups on the Long Island law," said CHI Executive Director and CEO Alec Roberts. "However, it is a difficult law to enforce and one of the most effective ways of improving compliance is to penalize violators, as this lawsuit seeks to do.” (Read more here, or wherever you get your news.)
Women's History Month

CHI’s Commack location is celebrating Women’s History Month by having some of the children residing on-site decorate and share quotes from strong women to spread positivity, confidence, and faith in strong female voices!
CHI welcomes new staff
Nikia Hughes-Cousins, (right) who has served as Shelter Manager at Riverhead for two years, recently accepted the new role of Assistant Director of Shelter Operations for CHI. In this position, Nikia will assist with information technology, fleet operations, facilities management, and administrative operations.
CHI also welcomes new staff members Diedra Williams (below center) and Micheal Ricci (below right) who will serve as Case Managers at the soon-to-open Mayfair Apartments in the Town of Greenburgh, where a grant from the Empire State Supportive Housing Initiative (ESSHI) will allow CHI
to provide housing to formerly homeless seniors with serious mental illness. Joining them at their new office (scheduled to open in April) is CHI Senior Director Debbie Anderson. 
April Homeownership Orientation Schedule
$25,000 in Down Payment Assistance
Available to Buy Your First Home

CHI offers grant assistance to first-time home buyers toward the down payment and rehabilitation costs associated with purchasing a home. To find out if you qualify, please register and attend an upcoming orientation webinar.
Westchester - Thursday, April 15, 6-7:30 p.m. (sponsored by M&T Bank)
Long Island - Thursday, April 22, 6-7:30 p.m. (sponsored by Citibank)
You must attend an orientation to apply for a grant.

Thank you to our donors
We are grateful to Nationwide Mortgage Bankers (“one of the nation’s fastest growing private companies”) for their ongoing support of CHI’s Home Ownership Program. Rohan Barnes, the VP of Community Lending Division for NMB, said CHI’s mission aligns with NMB’s focus on community lending. “CHI does tremendous work. We look forward to being partners for a long time.” Thank you, too, to the Dix Hills Jewish Center for donating a huge supply of arts and crafts materials to the Recreation/Education team at Moreland – an especially welcome gift during these unusual times!
Home is hope.
Your donation helps us continue to provide housing and human services for neighbors across Long Island, in Westchester, and throughout the Hudson Valley.
90% of CHI's budget is spent on program activities, serving 1,000 clients a day.
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