Monthly Archives: February 2014

Help NAHRO Protect HUD Funding in FY 2015- Join Sign-On Letter

The FY 2015 budget process is beginning. Join NAHRO in the fight for increased HUD funding by signing your organization onto a stakeholders letter by March 12 to push for the highest possible funding levels for the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) appropriations bill. Visit NAHRO’s Advocacy Action Center to read the letter and sign-on today!

Each year after the President’s budget proposal is released, Congress begins their budget and appropriations process. This process starts with the House and the Senate each drafting their own budget resolution. Those two resolutions are then merged into a single bill – a concurrent budget resolution. The concurrent budget resolution sets the overall amount of money that will be spent in the federal budget in the upcoming fiscal year, known in Washington as a “302(a).” This overall spending level guides appropriators, who are responsible for setting spending levels for specific programs within the federal government.  This year, the 302(a) has already been set by the two-year budget deal approved by Congress in December 2013: the 302(a) for FY 2015 is $1.014 trillion, which is essentially level funding.

Once a 302(a) has been established, appropriators divide that funding between the 12 appropriations bills that make up the federal budget, known as a 302(b). The Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development bill (THUD) is the bill responsible for setting spending levels for all HUD programs.  A low 302(b) level for THUD translates into cuts to critical HUD programs.   

In order to secure the highest possible level of funding for HUD programs, NAHRO has joined together with a large and diverse group of stakeholders who are impacted by the THUD bill. This group has drafted a sign-on letter that reminds appropriators of the importance of programs funded by THUD and urges them to appropriate the highest possible funding level for THUD in FY 2015. This is the third year such a letter has been drafted; last year, more than 2,400 organizations from every state signed the letter and Senate Appropriations THUD Subcommittee Ranking Member Susan Collins (R-Maine) brought a copy of the letter with her to the Senate floor to argue for her bill. This year, we are hoping to get 3,000 signatures for this critical letter. Please sign your organization on to the letter today and distribute widely within your networks. Visit the NAHRO Advocacy Action Center to view the letter and sign your organization by March 12.

 

Agency Spotlight: Linn-Benton Housing Authority residents celebrate meeting their personal goal

It took five years of commitment and motivation. But in late January, graduates of one housing authority’s Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program got to celebrate success – which, for some, meant leaving housing assistance behind.

On January 30, the Linn-Benton Housing Authority in Oregon held a graduation ceremony for successful participants of the FSS program to recognize the hard work these families put in. Staff also hoped the ceremony might inspire other families who still have work to do before they can achieve self-sufficiency.

The five-year voluntary program begins when interested families fill out an application and meet with coordinators to decide what they’d like to achieve by the end of the program. That could mean earning a high school or college degree or working toward homeownership. But the goal is to get off public assistance.

One family participating in the program got a zero-interest home through a partnership with the First Story home project. Another is making plans to purchase a home now that the mother has graduated from her nursing program.

There’s also a financial incentive to participating in the FSS program. That’s where the Valley Individual Development Account, or VIDA, comes in. They offer a match saving program to help families build assets. For every $1 a family saves, VIDA will contribute $3. Participants also have an escrow account, whose savings will grow as the family’s earned income rises.

“We receive our primary funding from HUD through the Family Self-Sufficiency NOFA,” says Anna Benson, Section 8 case manager for the Linn-Benton Housing Authority. “We receive a small amount of Administrative Fees from CASA [Community Assistance and Shelter Corporation] of Oregon for administering the VIDA program as well.”

This is the sixth year Linn-Benton Housing Authority has held graduation for their successful FSS families. Sixteen families graduated from the program this year. All together, Benson says, those families’ incomes increased by $383,058 from the time they started the program until graduation. She says 10 of those families no longer need Section 8 assistance – in fact, they’re off assistance completely.

Agency Spotlight: Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority helps to preserve Depression-era art treasure

CMHPart of Louis Grebenak’s WBOE mural which is to be incorporated at Ideastream in downtown Cleveland. 

Art preservation isn’t exactly a typical job for a housing authority, but the way CMHA sees it, they’re making sure the public will be able to experience artworks – both now and in the future.

When the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority was planning to demolish its Valleyview Estates housing complex to replace it with a new mixed-income neighborhood, Cleveland architectural historian Walter Leedy was concerned for the Depression-era artworks located there.

So CMHA teamed up with Cleveland State University as well as art specialists like ICA Art Conservation to have the murals and sculptures restored and returned to various housing authority locations.

That project, it turned out, was the start of renewed interest in art conservation in the Cleveland area.

The City of Cleveland is now looking into conservation for some of its city-owned artworks. Cleveland’s public broadcasting corporation is on board too. It’s hoping to install a mural from the early 1940. The Louis Grebenak mural, like many of the works CMHA is working to preserve, was a Works Progress Administration (WPA) project, part of a New Deal initiative to give the unemployed jobs creating public works, from public buildings and roads to works of art.

CMHA isn’t stopping there, either. It hired an art conservation company to preserve art at its Lakeview Terrace Community Center. And ICA came back into the picture to help the housing authority conserve and reinstall a set of paintings later on at its Woodhill Homes Community Center.

“CMHA is honored to partner with noteworthy organizations like Intermuseum Conservation Association and Cleveland State University on the WPA art projects throughout our housing portfolio. It is truly a collaborative effort in which together we have been able to preserve and redisplay these important pieces of art so they can be appreciated by the entire community,” said Jeffery K. Patterson, CMHA Chief Executive Officer.

“From ceramic tiles to cement sculptures, to beautiful murals, we have been able to showcase these pieces in a way that conjures a sense of pride and tells a real story about the history of the city.”

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Agency Spotlight: Cooking up job skills with the Denver Housing Authority

osage cafe_1 osage cafe_2The Osage Cafe, created by the Denver Housing Authority (DHA), prepares youth living in DHA housing for future in culinary industry. 

At the Osage Café in Denver, you can stop by for an egg sandwich for breakfast or a crisp salad for lunch – and help the community grow while you’re at it.

The café is the city’s first community-based culinary training center. Everything’s made by kids ages 16 to 21 through the Denver Housing Authority’s Youth Culinary Academy. Training lasts six to eight weeks and is meant to build experience in preparing healthy menu options. The course is free of charge.

Osage Café has a full breakfast and lunch menu. Local ingredients go into everything on your plate. Some come right from the nearby Mariposa District community gardens. All proceeds are reinvested in operations and youth training.

A few weeks ago, anyone eating at the café got a special treat: a green chile cheeseburger made with the help of chefs from Steubens. Guest chefs from Steubens and Ace, two Denver restaurants, will visit the café once a month to work with the culinary students.

Stella Madrid, Intergovernmental & Community Affairs Officer at the Denver Housing Authority (DHA), said in an email that the program’s a “true collaboration of partners.”

“DHA’s Osage Café is located on the first floor of the award winning Tapiz building which was funded through HUD ARRA and DHA development funds,” Madrid said of the program. “The Osage Café provides an innovative hands-on job skills training program for at-risk youth in the culinary industry.  Ongoing programming is funded through a partnership with the City of Denver’s Youth Workforce Investment Act (WIA) Program, JP Morgan Chase and income from Café sales.”

According to Lynne Picard, Director, Workforce Development & Community Initiatives, “Denver’s youth truly benefit from the committed partnerships by gaining healthy food access, job skills education and job placement opportunities.”

That benefit couldn’t be clearer when you read what the young chefs had to say on, osagecafe.org, the project’s webpage.

Zack said in his testimonial that he plans to attend the Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts and become an “awesome chef.”

“I come from a family of cooks,” Evan said in a testimonial. “I wanted to follow in my grandfather’s footsteps, but know I am doing things for myself to make my name known in the United States and Canada.”