I often ponder about the complicated relationship that residents and housing staff have with each other. Most residents are grateful for the housing they have. It’s healthy, safe and affordable, with many opportunities for success.
However, communication between staff and residents can at times be challenging. What one person hears and perceives may not be the same for another person. The messenger may have no idea that the words they say can be received and heard differently.
How then do we bridge that communication gap? How do we get on the same page? First, acknowledge that to have a housing agency you must have low-income residents. Think about that for a moment, a housing agency only exists because there are low-income people who need housing assistance. That means the housing agency providing the service and the residents receiving the service need each other to survive. Understanding this reality is essential for both housing staff and residents.
Second, practice team-work. If housing staff and residents consider themselves a team, communication flows more freely. Working together creates trust, and trust is essential for both residents and staff. Creating a resident friendly environment promotes a healthy and productive relationship between staff and residents.
Homes for Good has begun this team-work journey. How? By strengthening the relationship between Resident Advisory Board members and staff. By building a strong leadership team, by working closely with appointed Commissioners who are residents, and by providing training to staff and commissioners, on trauma, equity and inclusion.
Evolving into a resident friendly housing agency, with an emphasis on teamwork between residents and staff can strengthen your organization, it promotes healthy interactions, lessens fear of eviction and builds trust.
Chair – Homes for Good Board of Commissioners
Seattle Housing Authority
Among First to Earn New Accreditation
The Seattle Housing Authority has earned Affordable Housing Accreditation by the Affordable Housing Accreditation Board™. This designation reflects SHA’s commitment to meeting performance standards established by the affordable housing industry and to providing quality, well-managed housing. SHA and the Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority in Ohio were the first two housing authorities to go through, and pass, the new accreditation process to become an “Accredited Affordable Housing Organization.”
SHA underwent a rigorous review of documentation that culminated in a three-day site visit in June 2018. During the review and site visit, Affordable Housing Accreditation Board reviewers evaluated conformance with eight standards and 47 guidelines related to how effectively the board, leadership and staff work to meet their mission to enhance the Seattle community by creating and sustaining decent, safe and affordable living environments that foster stability and self-sufficiency for people with low incomes.
Established in 2013, the Affordable Housing Accreditation Board™ began piloting accreditation in early 2018. Accreditation is awarded for a five-year period, encouraging accredited organizations to continuously improve and excel in providing safe, well-managed, high-quality affordable housing in their communities.
“Organizations that pursue accreditation from the Affordable Housing Accreditation Board™ are demonstrating the highest commitment to their communities by delivering quality affordable housing,” said Diana McWilliams, President and CEO of the Affordable Housing Accreditation Board. “I commend the Seattle Housing Authority for successfully achieving this milestone and for its dedication to providing quality affordable housing in Seattle.
“We found the accreditation process valuable,” said SHA Executive Director Andrew Lofton. “It provided an opportunity for us to conduct a focused review of our practices against industry established standards and have our high performance confirmed by an independent third party. It also provides a methodology that will help us ensure we continue to maintain and build on that performance.”
Some places lift children out of poverty. Others trap them there. Now cities are trying to do something about the difference.
SEATTLE — The part of this city east of Northgate Mall looks like many of the neighborhoods that surround it, with its modest midcentury homes beneath dogwood and Douglas fir trees.
Whatever distinguishes this place is invisible from the street. But it appears that poor children who grow up here — to a greater degree than children living even a mile away — have good odds of escaping poverty over the course of their lives.
Believing this, officials in the Seattle Housing Authority are offering some families with housing vouchers extra rent money and help to find a home here: between 100th and 115th Streets, east of Meridian, west of 35th Avenue. Officials drew these lines, and boundaries around several other Seattle neighborhoods, using highly detailed research on the economic fortunes of children in nearly every neighborhood in America.
Immigrants and Refugees Make Home Forward a Stronger Agency
Home Forward’s organizational values call on us to stand alongside the communities who need us. This is a really painful time in our community and our country for many people who are immigrants and refugees, as they are targeted and threatened in ways that are shameful, at best. If you have a minute and eight seconds, click on the image to the right to see a video and meet some members of the Home Forward family. I think you’ll like it, and you’ll certainly know where we stand. - Michael Buonocore, HomeForward Executive Director
Housing Opportunities of Southwest Washington Opens 'Little Libraries' to Boost Academic Success Rate
WOODLAND — Two “Little Libraries” that just opened at affordable housing units here have an ambitious purpose: Boosting high school graduation rates and breaking the cycle of poverty.
“The correlation between smoking and cancer is less than the correlation between not being able to read at the third grade level and not graduating from high school,” said Gus Nolte, board vice chairman Housing Opportunities of Southwest Washington (formerly the Longview Housing Authority).
The Little Libraries will provide families living in the Tulip Valley and Lilac Place apartments with 24-hour access to books.
“These children live in low-income housing, and most families don’t have transportation to libraries or funds to buy books,” said Dana Wise, an administrative assistant for the housing authority. “The Little Libraries allow the children to come and take books as they please. We are hoping that being able to access the books at any time will allow the parents flexibility with the times that they can read to their children.”
Wise is part of the housing authority’s Read More, Learn More committee, which spearheaded the Little Library project. She said the committee was motivated to build the structures after hearing “alarming statistics.”
“There are numerous studies that show if a child isn’t proficient in reading by the fourth grade, their rate of success in academics drops significantly,” Wise said. “The statistic that resonated with us the most is that more than four out of five low-income students miss that milestone.”
Housing Authority of Washington County Award Vouchers
The Housing Authority of Washington County was awarded 45 Mainstream (Non-Elderly Disabled) Vouchers and 30 additional VASH Vouchers. We are thrilled to be able to expand our VASH program to include an additional thirty households, as well as serving 45 new households with our first allocation of Mainstream Voucher Funding.
We look forward to continuing to work with our incredible VA-VASH team, and an array of new partners to provide services to Mainstream Voucher households to support them and ensure their success.
Awards of Merit in Housing and Community Development
Applications for 2019 are now being accepted
Program Innovation: Resident and Client Services -- Includes programs that enhance the lives of residents and clients:
Self-Sufficiency Programs—Including employment, job readiness, homeownership counseling, etc.
Youth Programs—Including education, summer programs, recreation, etc.
Elderly or Special Needs Housing—Social Services Programs—Including health, social programs, security issues, etc. for the elderly, homeless, mentally or physically disabled, etc.
Other—Those programs that cross categories above or are general services in support of all residents/clients.
Program Innovation: Community Revitalization -- Includes programs that have a positive economic impact on a neighborhood or city, i.e. balanced growth, economic development, job creation; creative financing, public/private partnerships, mixed-use developments, neighborhood preservation.
Administrative Innovation -- Includes programs that improve the efficiency or effectiveness of administrative operations or the general functioning of the agency, i.e. management systems, maintenance, community relations, inter-agency cooperation, computer use, professional development and public relations.
Program Innovation: Affordable Housing -- Includes programs that produce affordable housing in an innovative manner, i.e. creative financing, public/private partnerships, mixed income developments, adaptive reuse, special needs housing.
Project Design -- Focuses primarily on the physical or landscape design of a building or project. (If what is most innovative is the program or financing rather than the design, the program should be entered in an Innovation Category.)
There are four types of design.
Project Design: New Project-- For new buildings or developments.
Project Design: Modernization/Rehabilitation Project -- For the modernization, rehabilitation, preservation, or alternative use of existing buildings, developments or areas regardless of their original architectural intent.
Project Design: Enduring Design-- Recognizes those projects which were completed before December 31, 2007, which show continued excellence in design and original program and in the creative aspects of its statement by today's standards.
Landscape Design -- Recognizes the use of landscape design to enhance the sense of community, increase security, provide recreational areas, advance environmental efficiency, or to augment natural landscapes.
For details on the awards program, eligibility requirements and to submit your 2019 application, click here.
Finalists for What Home Means to Me Poster Contest Selected
The 13 winners of the “What Home Means to Me” calendar contest have been seleced.
NAHRO will be revealing all the winners on Twitter and the Housing America website throughout October. Winners will be revealed here.
The grand prize winning poster will be revealed at the NAHRO National Conference in Atlanta, GA.
What is Your Agency Doing to Celebrate Housing America Month?
In 2007, Housing America was created and October was designated as the annual month for NAHRO and its members to collectively raise awareness of the need for, and the importance of, safe, decent and affordable housing in quality communities. Events are held around the country by housing authorities, redevelopment agencies and government entities to spotlight the great works that have been done and the successes that so many residents have experienced. Sadly, there continues to be an unmet housing need for many of America's most vulnerable.
Here you can find examples of what NAHRO members have done to recognize and celebrate Housing America Month.
Event Media Kit
Use our media kit to help get the word out about your event!
Congressional Public Housing Caucus Competition Continues
The regional competition to get Representatives to join the newly-formed Congressional Public Housing Caucus continues.
At the beginning of August, NAHRO kicked off a special competition between its regions to see which region can get the highest percentage of their Representatives to join the Congressional Public Housing Caucus.
The winning region will receive one free NAHRO training and one free registration to NAHRO’s Washington Conference in April. The competition will run until the NARHO National Conference that begins on October 25.
This new caucus was formed recently by Congressman Steve Stivers (R-Ohio) and Congressman Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) and they need your help to gather support for this critical caucus. To learn more about what a congressional caucus is and why it’s important for public housing to have strong congressional support, visit NAHRO’s Advocacy Action Center.
To participate in the competition, simply visit the Advocacy Action Center and send a pre-drafted letter to your Representative asking that he/she join the caucus. If you’ve already sent your letter, follow-up is critical.
As of September 17, only seven members of Congress have officially joined the caucus. Call the Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask to be connected with your Representative’s office to urge them again to join the caucus.
Advance Registration Closes October 10th
Spend three jam-packed days learning, teaching, networking, and being inspired at the NAHRO National Conference and Exhibition, from Oct. 25-27, at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta.
Here are just some of the educational opportunities in store:
40+ learning sessions on hot industry topics such as Moving to Work, the Rental Assistance Demonstration, partnerships with educators and healthcare professionals, and more;
Dynamic plenary speakers;
A solution-filled exhibit hall with over 70 industry vendors;
Plenty of networking opportunities;
A housing and community development tour coordinated by the Atlanta Housing Authority; and
For Commissioners, NAHRO Professional Development is offering conference registrants a special opportunity to attend either the Ethics for Commissioners seminar or Commissioners’ Guide to Oversight and Monitoring seminar while also attending the conference.
The John L. Carroll Memorial Scholarship was established in 1993 exclusively for small public housing agencies. Each awarded scholarship will cover the tuition of one NAHRO Professional Development live seminar or online course registration.
The agency must be a current member of national NAHRO.
The agency must have no more than 550 combined HCV-assisted and/or Public Housing (current or RAD-converted) units.
The agency must submit the online application before the scheduled deadline.
The agency may apply for only one scholarship per application period.
All scholarship applications will reviewed by the national NAHRO Professional Development Committee. A maximum of 10 scholarships will be awarded during each application period.
Award winners will be notified after the selections have been finalized. It is not necessary to know the location or date of a specific training product. NAHRO training programs are held throughout the continental United States. Please see NAHRO’s Training Calendar for a complete list of seminar dates and locations.
New Director of Professional Development Announced
NAHRO is pleased to announce that Jennifer Naughton has been named the Director of Professional Development and will oversee NAHRO’s professional development program. This includes the development of new education programs that respond to the needs of NAHRO members and the housing and community development industry.
Jennifer is an education and credentialing expert. Her 25+ year career has focused on identifying what people need to learn for success on the job and in their career, and then developing the most effective and efficient solutions to address those needs.
Prior to NAHRO, Jennifer served as the senior director of Competencies and Credentialing at the Association for Talent Development and as an associate at Booz Allen Hamilton.
Among Jennifer’s proudest accomplishments were earning the distinguished Hammer Award for her role on the IRS modernization project, starting up the industry’s first certification program for training professionals.
Jennifer holds a Master’s degree in Education (Human Resource Development) from the George Washington University and is SPHR certified. Jennifer is a recognized leader in the credentialing industry and has published two books, several chapters and articles, and has presented at numerous industry conferences. For Jennifer’s full bio, see www.linkedin.com/in/jennifer-naughton.
For a list of all of the job openings in the region, please visit our website.