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2000 Best Practice Awards

Best of the Best Winners: California

Best Practice: Mather Community Campus


Mather, California. Mather, California. On a street in rural California just east of Sacramento, neighbors grow pumpkins for local schoolchildren to harvest. Other residents gather for a softball game in the town league. It’s a typical night in a not-so-typical town for neighbors who are formerly homeless residents living at Mather Commu-nity Campus.

The first transitional housing to obtain property through the McKinney Act, Mather Community Campus provides housing, job training and employment programs to previously homeless adults and families.
The campus, a former military base with 16 buildings on 31 acres, was founded by five

Photo of recipients receiving award from Secretary Cuomo & Deputy Secretary Ramirez
 Receiving Best of the Best award from Secretary Cuomo (l) and Deputy Secretary Ramirez (r) are Rhondii Colson, Pat Wilcox, James Rox, Sandi Carly, Ishmal Castro, John Vernell, Beth Martin and Beth Valentine

core public and private agencies that include the County Department of Human Assistance, the Area Emergency Housing Center, Volunteers of America, PRIDE Industries and Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment. Altogether, a network of 33 agencies and stakeholders provides a comprehensive array of services.

The campus serves up to 200 single people and 65 families. The program’s results are impressive:

  • More than 700 homeless individuals and families have been served since the program’s inception in 1995.

  • All of the former students who responded to a post-graduation survey had maintained their homes more than one year after graduation.

  • More than 60 percent of students who completed job training at the campus found work, with an average starting wage of $8.13 per hour.

  • Twenty-two children from Mather Community Campus were recognized as “Outstanding Students” at their local schools and on the campus.

A 15-person team of managers from the five core agencies operates the day-to-day functions through a lateral collaborative process. One agency serves as the lead and holds contractual agreements with the four partner agencies. An advisory committee composed of 13 community stakeholders including homeless advocates, neighbors and campus students assists the management team.

Although the project faced intense community opposition initially and squeaked into existence thanks to a 3-2 vote by the board of supervisors, the campus now enjoys considerable community support. The reason is extensive recreation and education activities for neighbors as well as the campus students. The Neighborhood Planning Advisory Council holds its annual dinner at Mather, the Highway Patrol hosts safety seminars for high school students on campus and the head of the local chamber of commerce has publicly vowed to “protect” the campus.

In addition to housing, direct services include case management, employment services, a career center, culinary training and food services, building maintenance and painting training, landscape training and services, children’s services and transportation. Grants from the California Healthcare Foundation and HUD fund a HEALTH project collaborative that provides health and dental care services to single people. HUD funds totaling $3 million have leveraged nearly $71 million in private in-kind contributions.

Campus students are paired with a case manager and employment services worker who provide primary program services throughout the student’s two-year stay. This triad develops a graduation plan during the first four months of the student’s arrival, helps students obtain job training and employment and overcome personal barriers to employment and housing.

The effective intersection of community and transitional housing resulted from creation of a partnership team in which resident council members, staff leaders and a community advisory committee contribute as equal partners. Stereotypes dissolve as neighbors with homes interact with formerly homeless neighbors.

Contact: Rondi Colson, Phone: (916) 228-3102
Tracking Number: 1194
Winning Category: Geographic

Best Practice: Centro del Pueblo and Plaza del Sol


San Francisco, California. In the Valencia corridor of San Francisco, 14 nonprofit agencies line up to pay rent—to themselves. Ranging from the Jesuit Volunteer Corps to the Tile Mosaic Shop, the organizations jointly own Centro del Pueblo, the city’s first nonprofit-owned, mixed-use office and affordable housing complex. This self-investment has proved beneficial for the more than 200,000 community members in 1999 who accessed the array of direct services the co-located agencies provide on site. The nonprofits also provide affordable housing and services to residents of the on-site 52-unit Plaza del Sol serving low-and moderate-income families.

Initial HUD technical assistance helped 5 of the 14 agencies to collaborate in 1988 and eventually expand to reincorporate as Centro del Pueblo in 1992. The mayor’s Office of Community Development and the National Economic Development and Law Center played key roles as well. CDBG grants help support the project, which received $1.4 million from Bank of America’s Community Development Bank and $1.5 million from foundations and corporations. The collaboration currently has a positive cash flow of $28,000 above the budgeted $330,000 and has generated additional revenue through renting an on-site auditorium and other meeting space to community groups.

The agencies relied on the following steps to achieve ownership:

  • Conduct feasibility study to determine community needs, nonprofit capacity, local government interest, available land and prospective private partners.

  • Determine a corporate structure for ownership and operating purposes.

  • Identify and secure public and private financing resources.

Co-ownership and collaboration encouraged the agencies to pool their resources in new efforts. The
agencies monitored lending institutions on their Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) performance and, through one of the faith-based members, provided volunteers to assist with projects in low-income areas of California, Arizona and New Mexico. The collaboration also has built several hundred units of
affordable housing.

Plaza del Sol residents and community members can meet multiple social service needs in a single setting—from child care to legal services to housing counseling. Plaza del Sol has an on-site resource center that offers residents access to computers, employment referrals and tutorial services. Center computers linked to the San Francisco Unified School District’s computer system expand educational resources available to residents and help students improve their grade performances.

Contact: Larry Del Carlo, Phone: (415) 241-6183
Tracking Number: 600
Winning Category: Program (Community Builder)

Best Practice: Parker-Kier Building


San Diego, California. Architectural awards, affordable housing and historic preservation rarely goes hand-in-hand. Yet the 87-year-old Parker-Kier building in San Diego, California, has achieved all three through partnerships and an array of funding sources. Overlooking San Diego Bay, the renovated facility provides 34 units of rental housing for low-income individuals and individuals with mental illness.

The San Diego Housing Commission, which purchased the deteriorated property located in a neighborhood suffering from urban blight, showed the vision to preserve its original beauty while providing affordable rental

receiving Best of the Best award
 Recipients receiving Best of the Best award from Secretary Cuomo (l) and Deputy Secretary Ramirez (r)

housing. The commission partnered with two nonprofits—The Association for Community Solutions (TACHS) and A Community of Friends (ACOF)—to operate the facility and provide access to off-site support services for the 22 mentally ill residents.

These organizations soon found themselves responding to another call—that of the community resisting the concentration of mentally ill residents at Parker-Kier. Through a series of community forums, TACHS and ACOF helped allay complaints by educating neighbors on the characteristics and needs of mentally ill individuals. The nonprofits also worked closely with the city council and police department to address issues related to parking, property line disputes and site security.

HUD’s Shelter Plus Care grant provides rent subsidies for the mentally ill residents. Additional funding includes an interest-free loan of $695,000 from the city of San Diego’s Redevelopment Agency, $82,000 from the San Diego Housing Commission, $315,000 from the San Diego Housing Trust Fund and $135,000 from the State of California Energy Conservation Fund.

Independent living supplemented by support services has allowed the residents to steer clear of institutionalization and maintain a stable life. In turn, resident stability has helped diminish the neighbors’ concerns. Additional results include financial benefits for the community, which does not have to bear the burden of institutionalization for the mentally ill.

On the heels of the Parker-Kier restoration, owners of nearby properties have begun to renovate or tear down abandoned buildings. The waterfront business district west of the Parker-Kier is undergoing extensive redevelopment.

Winner of a national award from the Association of Local Housing Finance Agencies, the Parker-Kier restoration has maintained San Diego’s link to the past while paving a road to the future in affordable housing.

Contact: Elizabeth Morris, Phone: (619) 525-3601
Tracking Number: 648
Winning Category: Geographic

Best Practice: Fremont Family Resource Center


Fremont, California. “One-stop” shopping may indicate convenience in some circles, but the words changed the lives of a family of eight who recently approached the welcome desk of the Fremont Family Resource Center in California. The family had only the clothes they wore with no funds to purchase insulin for a diabetic grandmother and her 15-year-old grandson. Her adult pregnant daughter had not received any prenatal care; another adult child suffered a severe head trauma without rehabilitative care. The center coordinator worked with three of the 22 agencies co-located on-site to provide clothing, temporary housing vouchers, funds for permanent housing, Medi-Cal insurance

Photo of recipients receiving Best of the Best award
Betty Jutzi/Iris Priest/Letha Barnett receiving Best of the Best award from Secretary Cuomo (l) and Deputy Secretary Ramirez (r)

coverage, hospitalization for the 15-year-old diabetic and employment assistance.

Comprehensive co-located support services from dozens of city, county, state and private nonprofit agencies grew from dreaming/visioning sessions hosted by the city of Fremont during a 12-month period. Representatives from nonprofit and government agencies suggested the need for a coordinated approach to the provision of essential services. The Fremont Resource Center project emerged with the goals of increasing community access to services, improving the quality of services and improving family wellness.

Project supporters presented the concept to the city council to gain buy-in and authorization for financing. Outreach to dreaming session participants identified potential partners. The city financed and renovated two office buildings through a combination of $12.5 million in Certificates of Participation funds and $3 million in CDBG funds. CDBG funds were used to prepay long-term leases for at least 51 percent of the space and rent that space to CDBG-eligible nonprofit agencies. This arrangement allowed the city to lease prime space at well below market rates to participating nonprofit agencies.

Once the center’s buildings were renovated and lease agreements were signed, the center’s staff worked in partnership with tenants to develop a governance structure and integration of services. In response to the multiple regulations and service protocols of the 22 partner agencies, the center established a collaborative governance structure that includes community members and staff from all tenant organizations.

Agency co-location has helped foster collaboration and efficient service among partners, which has benefited families. Parents can now deliver their children to the child care center, take a parenting workshop at the city’s Youth and Family Services division, and stop by the career center to explore a new profession before heading off to a job-training program. In fact since opening in June of 1999, the Fremont Family Resource Center has attracted more than 120 participants a day to its career center and workshop attendance at the City’s Youth and Family Services division has increased 200 percent, largely due to the space and the onsite child care center.

Contact: Robert Calkins, Phone: (510) 494-4502
Tracking Number: 2181
Winning Category: Program (Community Planning and Development)

Best Practice: The Telemedicine Program in Public Housing

The Telemedicine Program Uses Advanced Technology to Provide Health Services to Residents in Public Housing

Monterey Park, California. To improve access to health care, The Community Development Commission/Housing Authority of the County of Los Angeles (CDC/HACoLA) partnered with The Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science to launch The Telemedicine Program in Public Housing. Using advanced telecommunications technology, The Telemedicine Program provides public housing residents with on-site access to diagnosis and treatment of sight-threatening diseases.

The program allows doctors to examine patients who live miles away in urban public

Photo of Carolos Jackson, Berdette Glover and Maria Badrakhan receiving award from Secretary Cuomo & Deputy Secretary Ramirez
Carolos Jackson, Berdette Glover and Maria Badrakhan receiving Best of the Best award from Secretary Cuomo (l) and Deputy Secretary Ramirez (r)

housing communities without ever leaving their offices. State-of-the-art cameras, ophthalmology equipment and computers transmit real-time images of the patient’s eyes to the doctor’s computers at the medical center, allowing a physician to make a diagnosis and recommend treatment. A physician attendant operates the equipment on the patient’s end and communicates directly with the doctor.

The program was an immediate success in identifying and treating individuals at risk of permanent vision impairment or blindness. Of the patients screened during the first two years of operation, 46 percent had severe sight-threatening conditions that required immediate treatment.

Besides providing much-needed access to health care for public housing residents, The Telemedicine Program offers an opportunity to support welfare-to-work participants by creating new employment opportunities. All centers employ public housing residents who are training to become certified telemedicine technicians. Eight residents have been successfully trained as medical office assistants. One medical office assistant is beginning her senior year as a nursing student at the University of Southern California. In addition, two of the medical assistants plan to apply to the Physician Assistant Program in fall 2001.

The program also demonstrates how telemedicine can be cost-effective in providing health services to underserved urban communities. By practicing preventive care, patients maintain better health and avoid costly emergency room visits.

Telemedicine is funded through an initial grant from HACoLA and a congressional appropriation. Drew University donates staff time and provides technical and medical expertise. Formerly, telemedicine programs existed only in rural areas where access to health care is complicated by lack of transportation, child care concerns and financial hardship. Recognizing that many people in urban areas face the same problems, HACoLA and Drew University opened the Telemedicine Center at a public housing community in Long Beach, California, making it the nation’s first urban telemedicine center.

One of the stated objectives in forming the telemedicine network was to create a nationally replicable health care delivery model for addressing the unmet health care needs of medically underserved urban communities. To replicate the program, take the following steps:

  • Determine the needs of the community
  • Determine a funding source(s)
  • Find primary care and specialty care medical services
  • Obtain buy-in from the residential and medical communities
  • Determine the location of services
  • Purchase the necessary equipment
  • Set up the infrastructure
  • Develop policies and procedures and protocols
  • Train medical office assistants and physician extenders
  • Market the services

Contact: Christy Miyagishima, Phone: (323) 890-7437
Tracking Number: 3017
Winning Category: Geographic and Program (Public and Indian Housing)

Best Practice: Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center (REC)

Increasing Entrepreneurial Capabilities in the Bay Area

San Francisco. Hailed as the nation’s first micro-enterprise training and incubator program, the Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center helps low- and moderate-income residents develop small businesses and grow existing ones. The center has been in existence since 1985 and it provides training for new and existing business owners and offers a business incubator to stabilize struggling businesses.

“Building Dreams,” is something that the center does everyday. This is accomplished by empowering and increasing the entrepreneurial capabilities of socially and economically diverse people in San Francisco Bay Area. The center is a unique multi-cultural marketplace of entrepreneurs. Diversity is a critical factor of the center’s success. Program participants come, not only from a range of racial and ethnic backgrounds, but have different levels of educational and occupational experience.

The center offers a comprehensive array of business training and support programs offered at its facility as well as off-site in the Bayview District of San Francisco. Services are offered to people who are exploring self-employment, as well as those who already own a small business and need specific kinds of assistance.

The center’s goal is to spark lasting economic development for individuals and communities that traditionally have not had access to capital and business support. The center offers training programs, a The center offers a range of practical, hands-on training in business management for both the new entrepreneur and the more experienced business owner. Applicants to any of the programs must demonstrate the motivation needed to start and grow a small business, attend a free orientation and submit an application. The Financing Resource Center assists participants in the acquisition of capital from traditional and nontraditional source of funding. It provides a conduit for traditional lenders to lend under somewhat nontraditional circumstances or in specific markets such as minority, women, low-to-moderate income and geographically designated business enterprises. Staff prequalifies loan applicants and represents them to the appropriate financial institution. An advisory board of Renaissance lending partners assists with the program design and fundraising. Between 1995 through 1997 there were 46 funded loans totaling $2 million.

The center’s Business Incubator is designed to assist new entrepreneurs to successfully grow their small businesses by providing low cost office space, office support services and business management assistance. The Business Incubator is a long term, temporary business location. Tenants are expected to develop specific goals for the growth of their business. Tenants are expected to “graduate” from the Business Incubator when they reach their goals and are ready to expand. This process normally takes approximately three years. In addition, technical assistance is provided twice per month by the center’s staff and business experts. Consultants cover topics such as financial planning, marketing strategy, access to loans and business planning.

Center resources have increased area economic development, expanded employment opportunities, and resulted in an infusion of products and services into the area. More than 1,200 low-income residents have received training, of whom 450 are now business owners. In 1999, these businesses generated approximately $37.5 million and created 1,200 new jobs. The business incubator has helped stabilize 45 businesses.

Contact: Claudia Viek, Phone: 415-541-8584
Tracking Number: 358
Winning Category: Program (Community Planning and Development)

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Content Archived: April 20, 2011

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