An American Program to Address Tenant Needs

I visited the International Social Housing Festival in Amsterdam to share some of the concepts and ideas being used in the United States to meet tenant needs.  A small workshop of attendees from the Netherlands, Italy and the USA gathered together to discuss this important theme.  As a speaker, I explained the US social housing system to the participants and took questions.  I then introduced the concept of the Moving to Work Program.

Moving to Work:

The Moving to Work Program is a demonstration program introduced to the American social housing sector in the 1990’s.  The major goals of the program are to:

  1. Increase the number of housing units
  2. Help social housing residents become self-sufficiency
  3. Increase administrative efficiency.

I wanted to focus on addressing local tenant needs with local solutions.  In order to do this, I gave several examples.

Tacoma Housing Authority:

The group learned about the Tacoma Housing Authority’s education project and the various programs it has spawned.  Of particular interest were the McCarver Elementary School project meant to stabilize a school with a great deal of homeless families.  We also spoke about a program to help homeless/low income students at a community college and a savings match program designed to help students of social housing save for college.

San Diego Housing Commission:  

We discussed a program called Project 25 meant to house the highest cost homeless persons in San Diego.  The group learned that housing these persons saved the city and community over $2 million dollars in costs for hospitals, ambulances, prisons and jails.

Baltimore Housing Authority:

This housing association created a program called Moving to Opportunity to help with racial segregation in its housing programs.

Lincoln Housing Authority:

This housing association has done innovative work around helping senior citizens with an “aging in place” light type of program.

Keene Housing Authority:

This small agency has launched an innovative housing program called MARCH to help homeless veterans.

Oakland Housing Authority: 

This agency is working with imprisoned women and helping them reconnect to their children, provide housing and counseling services.

Conclusion: 

We found that there are similar programs taking place within the Netherlands and that despite geographical distances we all are trying to help the families that live within our housing.  Please visit the International Observatory on Social Housing for more information on American programs.  Email Josh Crites at jcrites007@gmail.com or josh.crites@seattlehousing.org for the PowerPoint or connections to other agencies in the USA.

Feature image by © Elodie Burrillon | http://hucopix.com

Author: jcrites

Josh Crites is an American social housing professional with both practical and research experience. He has worked at 3 social housing companies in the USA in roles ranging from policy and operations to process improvement and strategy. Josh is a former Alexander von Humboldt German Chancellor Fellow. During that fellowship, Josh researched and worked with social housing companies in Germany, The Netherlands, Portugal, Scotland, England, Estonia and Spain. He is an avid writer and advocate for the provision of social housing around the world.

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