The public sector and non-profits around the USA struggle everyday to provide housing and services that make an impact on the most vulnerable in our country. I recently came upon a unique private organization that takes on the role of a housing authority so that non-profit organizations that focus on services and mental health delivery can stay focused. Many non-profits are not equipped to keep up with the complicated world of housing policy and deliver on their core services or goods. Some public housing authorities are over-leveraged. That is where HOM Inc. comes in. I learned about this organization through positive word of mouth from professionals in the region and was impressed with the transparency and openness of the website and the CEO.
In this two part series, I interviewed the owner and CEO Michael Shore to learn about this unique organization.
Q: Can you explain where your energy and passion for social housing and homelessness comes from? Why do you work in housing?
A: I’m a second generation houser, following in the footsteps of my mother, who was the Executive Director of the Casper, Wyoming and Scottsdale, Arizona housing authorities. I grew up talking about affordable housing at the dinner table and spent many afternoons at the local housing authority office after school. When we started HOM, Inc., in 1994, I was a freshman at Arizona State University and was the company’s first employee, working part-time after classes in several different capacities. Following completion of my degree in Political Science, I decided to stay on with the company and move into management. Admittedly at first, I saw the opportunity to work for the family business as a way to earn a decent living and not join the corporate grind. It wasn’t until later in my career, however, that I discovered my true calling in this work. In 2009, I had the great fortune of discovering a national movement of change agents working to end homelessness in communities across the country. Since then, I have dedicated myself to doing everything I can to make homelessness rare, brief and non-recurring for the most vulnerable individuals and families in my community.
Q: Tell me about the organization, how it got started and what the values and mission are?
A: At HOM, Inc., we believe individuals, families and communities are safer, healthier and stronger when everyone has a home. Unfortunately, our most vulnerable neighbors often lack stable and affordable housing in their communities.
HOM, Inc., was founded in 1994 to partner with the Maricopa County Regional Behavioral Health Authority. We started by housing 300 persons. Our founder’s experience in leading public housing authorities and a regional HUD office combined with her passion for serving individuals and families with the most severe housing and service needs were the perfect formula for our company’s early efforts. Today, HOM, Inc., parnters with many agencies to support Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) and Rapid Re-Housing (RRH) programs. We now help to stably house over 2,400 households throughout Maricopa County.
Q: What types of organizations do you work with?
A: HOM, Inc., partners primarily with nonprofit organizations in our community’s homeless services and integrated behavioral health systems. Nonprofit partners include:
- Arizona Behavioral Health Corporation
- UMOM New Day Centers
- A New Leaf
- Community Bridges
- Valley of the Sun United Way
We also partner with local housing authorities to provide services for their programs that are targeted to special needs populations and ending homelessness:
- City of Phoenix Housing Department – Eligibility and lease-up for HUD-VASH and Housing Choice Vouchers with preferences for homeless households
- City of Mesa Housing Department – HQS Inspections for their HCV Program
- Arizona Department of Housing, Public Housing Authority – HQS Inspections for their HCV Program
Q: What value do you bring to these organizations you work with?
A: Our core area of expertise is in the administration of tenant based rental assistance for special needs populations. This is simply money given to people looking for housing. Our efficient delivery of that service enables our partners to focus on delivering high-quality, client-centered wrap-around housing stabilization services to our participant households.
We provide expertise that non-profit and mental health agencies do not have. It makes for a good partnership. In some communities, local housing authorities are extending their services to efforts aimed at ending homelessness, but in others, nonprofit organizations are finding themselves needing to develop this capability themselves.
In our community, HOM, Inc., administers the vast majority of tenant based rental assistance in Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) and Rapid Re-Housing (RRH) programs for our nonprofit partners. Our relationships with landlords that understand the population that we serve and our efficient operations have increased the success rate in for homeless persons and families finding a place to live. Why is this important? The housing agencies get money to run their programs when people find housing. It is a cycle.
Q: In your mind, does your organization allow the non-profits to focus more on their core work and skills?
Our partnership model leverages our organizations’ individual strengths to maximize our collective impact. HOM, Inc.; does the A-Z process for our partners. That includes admissions to lease up and inspections. Our partners are then able to focus exclusively on their role of supporting the individuals and families that we serve in ending their homelessness, achieving housing stability and improving other outcomes in their lives. This is especially critical as our community has made great strides in prioritizing Permanent Supportive Housing and Rapid Re-Housing interventions to individuals and families who have the most severe housing and service needs.
In part II of this interview which will be published in the upcoming weeks, we will learn more about the unique challenges taking place in Maricopa County, Arizona and see how HOM Inc. is assisting the community in a way that is both transparent and extremely visual.