CLPHA's Summer Meeting, on June 18-20, brought the membership together in sunny Los Angeles, CA for a tour, discussions, and presentations that focused on partnering for collective impact on the local level. View the full meeting agenda, and follow the links below for summaries of the presentations and links to related materials.
CLPHA had the privilege of being addressed by Councilman Buscaino, who represents LA’s 15th District, which is home to five housing developments, including Jordan Downs. Buscaino spoke movingly of his own experiences as a police officer with the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), which continues to inform his approach to serving the 15th District. During this time, he created the LAPD’s Teen Community Police Advisory Board, an organization that works with teenagers to solve community problems and to build positive relationships with the police. Buscaino’s dedication to families living in Watts, which is only a part of his constituency, is reflected in his efforts to bring additional resources to the neighborhood as well as his efforts to connect with the community on a personal level. Busciano is a staunch supporter of neighborhood revitalization and is an engaged partner for HACLA, and the CLPHA membership was inspired by his words of support for HACLA and the affordable housing field.
In a lively and stimulating discussion of strategies to revitalize neighborhoods through community partnerships, panel members stressed the importance of working closely with residents to develop trust to achieve meaningful, long -term outcomes. Participants included Kathryn Icenhower of Shields for Families, a mental health and supportive services agency; Sergeant Emada Tingirides of the LAPD Community Safety Partnership Program; Reuben Gonzales of the Annenberg Foundation and LA n Sync; and Sanford Riggs representing HACLA’s Housing Services Department. Each panelist discussed the wide number of community services and moderator John King of HACLA pointed out that the housing authority has provided seed money to leverage additional resources in a number of their communities. One pilot program in the Watts neighborhood was highlighted for its leveraged resources, but as Sergeant Tingirides pointed out, “this is not an experiment; it is a revolution.”View Kathryn Icenhower’s presentation.
Los Angeles County has the unfortunate distinction of being the homeless capital of the country. Yet for years, CLPHA members learned during this panel, efforts to address the challenge were fragmented. Each year, more than $875 million in resources were being poured into uncoordinated strategies being executed in silos. Today, however, the panel members and their partners are working together under the Home for Good plan to end chronic and veteran homelessness in LA County by 2016. Resource allocation is being coordinated through a large-scale funders’ collaborative.
Responding to questions from moderator Christine Marge, Director of Housing Stability at the United Way of Greater Los Angeles, panel members told the story of this major shift in approach and of the resources that their agencies were able to bring to bear. Peter Lynn, HACLA’s Section 8 Director, spoke of the 14,000 units that HACLA has dedicated to addressing homelessness, taking a variety of forms, and about the tremendous good will that aligning these resources has generated. Maria Funk, Mental Health Clinical District Chief for the LA County Department of Mental Health (DMH), shared about how the DMH was able to participate in the collaborative effort by committing services to support formerly chronically homeless households in their new housing. She also cited the importance of HACLA’s “Moving On” preference for keeping units with intensive services targeted to households that need them.
Marc Trotz, Director of Housing for Health in the LA County Department of Health, spoke about the incredible amount of resources and opportunities being devoted to the issue and about leadership coming from all corners. He also mentioned that when thinking about why the Department of Health should be involved in housing, one might note that one day of uncompensated care costs about the same amount as one month of housing. Finally, Mike Alvidrez, Executive Director of Skid Row Housing Trust observed that every time the Trust raised its bar, seeing how far it could go to target the highest acuity individuals who had been homeless for the longest, the better able it was to meet its targets. In part of the conversation focused on reducing criminal background checks, he challenged audience members to think about homes instead of units and to ensure that their residents feel at home.
Following the panels on June 19, CLPHA honored outgoing PIH Assistant Secretary Sandra Henriquez. CLPHA thanked Ms. Henriquez for her work at HUD on behalf of low-income families and communities and recognized her leadership under difficult circumstances.
After unanimous confirmation by the Senate, Ms. Henriquez was sworn in as Assistant Secretary for HUD's Office of Public and Indian Housing in June 2009. Prior to her time at HUD, she served as the Administrator and Chief Executive Officer of the Boston Housing Authority for 13 years. Ms. Henriquez also held the position of President on CLPHA’s Board of Directors. She has dedicated her life to housing America’s most vulnerable, and CLPHA wishes her well in her next endeavors.
Laura Green Zeilinger, Executive Director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH), gave the keynote address on Friday morning, sharing her agency’s vision of addressing homelessness in America. She spoke about the implementation of Opening Doors and the ways that it is changing the trajectory of homelessness. USICH is currently working on making strategic amendments to the plan, wanting to stay relevant and current with an understanding of what we can do.
Homelessness is a problem that we can and will solve, insisted Zeilinger, noting that it is important to understand what is meant by “an end to homelessness.” It does not mean that no one will ever experience a housing crisis. It means that every community will have a response in place so that this type of occurrence is rare, brief, and non-recurrent. It means that systems will be in place to quickly intervene and provide assistance and needed services. This takes leadership, to forge partnerships, and an unapologetic commitment to broad implementation of evidence-based practices. Housing authorities can be levers of systems change and the work that they have been doing can be held up as an example to other mainstream systems.
In a panel discussion, “Education Initiative: A View from the Pacific Northwest,” Stephen Norman, (Executive Director, King County Housing Authority), Michael Mirra (Executive Director, Tacoma Housing Authority), and Andrew Lofton (Executive Director, Seattle Housing Authority) explored the role of housing authorities in education. The importance of housing authorities’ engagement in education was underscored by the simple fact that housing authorities serve a substantial number of children living in poverty, especially in large urban school districts. For instance, the Seattle Housing Authority serves approximately one-sixth of the students attending the Seattle Public Schools. Panelists agreed that affordable housing providers are naturally positioned to contribute to the educational context of the families they serve and that affordable housing resources could be better used to support local education systems.
Panelists described their wide-ranging education initiatives and their approaches to building relationships with their school districts. Importantly, it was noted that school districts have begun to perceive housing authorities as a key contributor to their success. That is, housing authorities can help school systems meet existing measures of success, such as those related to school readiness, third grade reading levels, and post-secondary transitions. Finally, the panel shared their experiences regarding data sharing with their school districts, which has been foundational in developing shared goals for their housing and education partnerships. This panel sparked great interest among CLPHA members and highlighted the importance of CLPHA’s Education Initiative.
Another well-received panel at the Summer Membership Meeting was “Housing and Health Go Hand In Hand,” which discussed strategies for developing sustainable partnerships with the health care system. The panel was moderated by Steve Rudman (Executive Director, Home Forward) and included Roy Johnson (Executive Director, Vancouver Housing Authority), Jon Gutzmann (Executive Director, St. Paul Public Housing Agency), and LaShelle Dozier (Executive Director, Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency). Dozier described a project to serve formerly homeless individuals, programs to improve the health care access of seniors, and a housing-health collaborative which has reduced emergency room usage by 65 percent through preventative treatment. Johnson reported on a community health initiative staffed by residents, who coordinate and facilitate activities supporting healthy lifestyles. Johnson noted that the success of this program lead to other opportunities, including a grant to engage teenagers in health activities and participation in a regional health alliance in which 41 agencies align resources to improve health across 4 Washington State counties.
The panel ended with a collaborative discussion of the replicability of health initiatives, sparked by Gutzmann’s presentation. Gutzmann explained that his dedication to health derives from the fact that public housing is approximately 1 percent of the housing in the United States, and thus improving the health context of public housing has a significant effect upon health outcomes and health care costs. He pointed out that his partnership with a local nursing school is replicable in most communities, as are partnerships with accountable care organizations. Through partnerships, as well as a state grant, St. Paul provides a variety of health services and programs including, but not limited to: a foot care clinic, nutrition and active lifestyle classes, tobacco reduction programs, community gardens, walking clubs, and bike and shoe giveaways. In response to the rich examples of housing authority contributions to health shared by panelists, member discussion focused upon how to make the case—both locally and nationally—that affordable housing can provide solutions for the health care system.View Jon Gutzmann’s presentation.
Thanks: Planning and Sponsorship Support
We are thankful to our hosts at the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles, whose leadership and staff organized a meeting that proved to be engaging, informative, and uplifting. We also greatly appreciate the support from our meeting sponsors: the Bronner Group, Dickerson Employee Benefits Insurance Services, Johnson Controls, Nan McKay, and Quadel.