What Affordable Housing Means to Me…

Affordable Housing Success Story: Florida

Ability Housing 

Mission: Ability Housing’s mission is to build strong communities where everyone has a home. To fulfill this mission, we develop and operate quality rental housing affordable to people with extremely limited incomes, focusing on the needs of people experiencing or at risk of homelessness and adults with disabilities. Ability Housing partners with area service organizations so our residents have the supports they require to ensure housing stability and increase their independent living skills. In 2015, Ability Housing’s housing stability rate was 95.5% across its affordable developments. This exceeds the HUD Continuum of Care performance benchmark (80%) for permanent supportive housing.

Story: Consuello lost her housing in 2012 due to several setbacks caused by her anxiety and depression. After weeks in transitory motels and shelters, she lost custody of her daughter. Michael was forced to leave his grandmother’s home due to family conflict. When he and Consuello met, an immediate bond of faith and love was formed between them. But they could not find housing as they were unable to find work and were forced to live outside of an abandoned warehouse. Jacksonville, like many communities, has a crisis with affordable housing with more than half of the city’s renters being cost-burdened and 337 people identified as chronically homeless. When they met Joe Johnson, the program manager at Ability Housing, Consuello and Michael said that their prayers had been answered. The Village on Wiley was developed specifically to provide 43 units of permanent supportive housing for the community’s highest users of crisis services. The couple moved into their new home at this beautiful complex in 2015. With the support resources provided by HUD Continuum of Care program (CoC) funds, they found the capacity to rebuild their lives and married in early 2016. Consuello and Michael are now receiving benefits that have further stabilized their income and Consuello is now supplementing their income with work at McDonald’s, having gotten her license and a car to help her get to work. They have moved into a two-bedroom apartment at Ability Housing’s Mayfair Village so they can have their children back in their lives. Education seemed like an unattainable dream when Consuello and Michael were experiencing homelessness, yet they are planning to attend Edward Waters College to study music, with the goal of teaching children. With the support of Ability Housing, their future is as bright as their smiles.

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Contact:

Tanya Adams; 904-359-9650; tadams@abilityhousing.org

abilityhousing.org

Organization Information:

City: Jacksonville

Congressional District: FL-4

Use of Funds: Rental Assistance

Federal Programs: CoC: $925,414

Total Federal Dollars: $925,414


Success stories from the A Place to Call Home report are available at: http://nlihc.org/sites/default/files/A-Place-To-Call-Home_Profiles.pdf 

2017 Organizing Award Nominees Series

Neighbors United for Progress Empowers Austin Residents

By Sarah Jemison, Housing Advocacy Organizer

NUP Picture

Neighbors United for Progress (NUP), a resident-driven community leadership development project, has been nominated for this year’s 2017 Organizer Award for their adept community engagement in Austin, Texas.

In the past year, NUP has hosted 3 affordable housing forums engaging participants and informing them of their rights as residents. They also represent the interests of low income families at monthly Austin City Council Meetings, capitalizing on relationships with council members in order to best advocate for residents’ interests.

NUP’s work is extensive and aligns with NLIHC’s goals in a variety of ways. As noted in the nomination, “Through community conversations, bilingual housing workshops, training, and building relationships with city, state and national advocacy organizations and policymakers, NUP is furthering NLIHC’s mission to educate, organize, and advocate to ensure decent, affordable housing for everyone in the United States.”

To learn more about the NUP’s efforts to build the awareness and capacity of community members to navigate the issues and structures related to affordable housing, visit their Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/NUPATX/ and their website at www.nupatx.org.

2017 Organizing Award Nominees Series

Greater Newark HUD Tenants’ Coalition Seeks to Preserve, Expand Affordable Housing While Empowering Residents

By Sarah Jemison, Housing Advocacy Organizer

Newark Renters Blog Picture

The Greater Newark HUD Tenants’ Coalition (the Tenants’ Coalition), was nominated for the 2017 Organizing Award in recognition of the group’s commitment to empowering tenants and expanding access to affordable rental housing in Newark, New Jersey.

The Tenants’ Coalition members include public housing tenant organizations, tenants living in subsidized housing, public housing residents, other renters, and homeowners. Seventy-three percent of Newark residents rent their homes.  The Greater Newark HUD Tenants Coalition advocates for the needs of this broad population in addition to the specific needs of residents of federally assisted housing.

The Tenants’ Coalition works to maintain the city’s decreasing number of public and private federal subsidized homes, to preserve Newark’s strong rent control ordinance, and to create a strong inclusionary zoning ordinance. In 2016, the group successfully fought to preserve 166 units of affordable housing units in the City of Newark by relocating households to new apartments using U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Housing Choice (Section 8) vouchers. These relocated households had been living in affordable housing that was slated to be demolished.

The Tenants’ Coalition also raises support for residents of subsidized housing at public events.  Two examples of events include a June 2016 rally in support of repairs to public housing apartments and a September demonstration at Newark City Hall as a part of the National Renters Day of Action. At the September event, coalition members called for city leaders to protect their constituents against gentrification and displacement.

Finally, the Tenants’ Coalition works to educate and empower residents across the city, helping tenants understand their rights and fight eviction.

Writing in support of the Tenants’ Coalition’s nomination, Arnold Cohen, Senior Policy Coordinator at the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey, an NLIHC State Partner, said, “Their work has meant concrete improvements in very low income tenants’ lives…they have worked with tenants to successively keep their buildings affordable by fighting rent increases and stopping owners from opting out of HUD subsidies.”

To learn more about Greater Newark HUD Tenants’ Coalition’s ongoing work to fight for tenants’ rights and to preserve low-income affordable housing, visit their Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/The-Greater-Newark-HUD-Tenants-Coalition-110719232320697/

What Affordable Housing Means to Me…

Affordable Housing Success Story: California
West Hollywood Community Housing Corp. 

Mission: West Hollywood Community Housing Corporation (WHCHC) develops safe, decent and affordable housing for people with limited incomes, including those with special needs, enhancing the community and supporting economic diversity. We envision sustainable communities of healthy, diverse neighborhoods within the greater Los Angeles, California area. Our residents include people with disabilities, seniors, people with HIV/AIDS, transition-age youth, families, and people who have formerly been homeless. As of December 2016, WHCHC houses 813 residents, 60% of whom are 55 years old or older. Most WHCHC affordable projects include HUD HOME Investment Partnerships program (HOME) funds from the County of Los Angeles Community Development Commission and the City of Glendale, as well as HUD project-based vouchers (PBVs) from both the County and City of Los Angeles housing authorities. WHCHC also relies on the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program (LIHTC) in developing its projects.

Story: After almost 10 years of homelessness, Stephen was selected from a lottery in 2009 for an apartment at Sierra Bonita Apartments in West Hollywood, California. It changed his life.

stephen_sadler_photo_2_whchcStephen, a paraplegic from back injuries, was awarded a Shelter Plus Care (S+C) voucher, but he was unable to find an apartment that would accept his voucher. In fact, because of the housing shortage in West Hollywood and Los Angeles, Stephen’s voucher expired twice while he was trying to find an apartment. Ultimately, Stephen found WHCHC, the only landlord in West Hollywood accepting new residents with vouchers.

Sierra Bonita Apartments is a 42-unit new construction project for people with disabilities, located in a low-income neighborhood where much of the housing stock is aging and deteriorating. The project was awarded $3 million in HUD HOME funds in 2008, and it received 32 HUD project-based vouchers in 2011. The development created approximately 45 construction jobs and two permanent jobs. The WHCHC Resident Services department provides Sierra Bonita tenants with educational and economic opportunities, and staff help to promote housing retention and positive health outcomes.

While living at Sierra Bonita, Stephen keeps fit by working out and surfing with his friends at “Life Rolls On.” WHCHC’s Resident Services staff provide services as needed, but Stephen is becoming less reliant on supportive services in his daily life.

Contact:
Robin Conerly; 323-650-8771; robin@whchc.org
 whchc.org

Organization Information:
City: West Hollywood
Congressional District: CA-28
Use of Funds: New construction, rental assistance
Federal Programs: HOME: $3 million PBV: $164,448/year LIHTC: $7.09 million
Total Federal Dollars:
Development: $10.90 million
Rental Assistance/ Services: $164,448/year
Other Financing: $3.79 million
Total Project Cost: $18.77 million
Affordable homes created or preserved: 42


Success stories from the A Place to Call Home report are available at: http://nlihc.org/sites/default/files/A-Place-To-Call-Home_Profiles.pdf 

2017 Organizing Award Nominees Series

Community Outreach Housing, Making Strides Towards Reducing Housing Poverty in Texas

By Sarah Jemison, Housing Advocacy Organizer

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Community Outreach Housing (COH) leaders, Tamra and Darrell Gardner, were nominated for this year’s 2017 Organizer Award because of their selfless and extensive work in bringing affordable and decent housing to the low income residents of Stephenville, Texas.

COH’s main goal is to provide stable and affordable homes to low income residents of Stephenville and organizers Tamra and Darrell are leading the way. The organization’s work centers on managing below market rate housing for low income residents of Stephenville, where the median family income is $34,501. COH maintains single family rental homes in mixed income neighborhoods zoned for high performing schools. Thus, residents of COH have access to quality education in less segregated neighborhoods. Currently, COH operates 17 rental homes and has plans to double that number in the near future, expanding critically lacking affordable housing to some of Stephenville’s most vulnerable residents.

In addition to their rental homes, COH also organizes service projects to improve the homes of community members in need, including seniors, veterans, students, and low income families. Recruiting volunteers and in-kind donations from local suppliers, COH was able to complete renovations on 7 homes during 2016, expanding decent and affordable housing in the community.

The community member who nominated Tamra and Darrell described them as “generous, humble and truly kind…giving back to the community instead of profiting themselves.” Their work expands access to quality, affordable housing while raising awareness for the need for further investment in the community.

To learn more about COH’s ongoing work to achieve expanded mixed-income housing in areas of opportunity, visit their website at: http://www.coh3436.org/