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2000 Best Practice Awards

Best of the Best Winners: Georgia

Best Practice: HomeStretch

HomeStretch Assist Homeless Families in Their Quest for Self-Sufficiency

Roswell, Georgia. In the words of a formerly homeless man who benefited from the services of HomeStretch, “Thank you, HomeStretch. Because of your help, we have a new home and I have a terrific job. Thank you for restoring my confidence in myself to be able to provide for my family.”

Housing Initiative, a nonprofit, addresses the lack of emergency, transitional and affordable housing in North Fulton County. Through HomeStretch, a transitional housing program, staff members and volunteers collaborate to help homeless families better manage their lives, money and future, and help them return to housing self-sufficiency.

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

Each eligible family is offered a fully furnished house with the training and service support necessary to regroup and regain lost independence.

This housing program has empowered more than 150 families and 20 individuals through its counseling, financial training and skills development services.

“We work with homeless families and take them off the streets,” says John E. Smith III, executive director of HomeStretch “We take someone in desperate need of help who would otherwise turn to the government. We take them and put them in our residency with a detailed comprehensive program and help them get to the point where they can provide for their families.”

Each family is assigned a Family Sponsor Team that offers support through budgeting, mentoring and provision of resources—each with its own sub-team. The budget team works with the family to develop and sustain a workable budget. Using “kitchen table economics,” this team of volunteers helps the families understand how to manage their income, pay their bills and begin to reduce old debt.

The mentoring team provides emotional support, a willingness to listen and role models for the parents and their children.

The resource team helps the family solve the myriad problems that pose as daily challenges. The barriers include lack of transportation, childcare, child support and the need to deal with collection agencies. The resource team seeks solutions to these problems and advises and guides the family through complicated social and legal challenges.

The volunteers are recruited and trained by HomeStretch professional staff and work under the coordination of the HomeStretch Family Coordinator and a professional social worker. The social worker develops a detailed, tailored Goal Achievement Plan for each family. The volunteers, representing churches and civic and corporate groups, work directly with each family to achieve the goals.

Volunteers who identified a need for a transitional program for the increasing numbers of homeless families in the community started HomeStretch. These volunteers solicited financial aid from two local churches and rented an apartment. They used the church network to solicit furniture for the apartment and for volunteers to help maintain the house and to work with the family. They decided to work with families with minor children, who were working full time and free of drugs and alcohol. From that simple beginning, the organization has grown to own 13 residences housing nine families in HomeStretch; three families in Next Step, a State supported transitional housing program and one family in long term affordable housing.

The success of the HomeStretch program can be correlated directly to the intense hands-on support that each family receives from the group of volunteers committed to creating every opportunity for the family to succeed.

HomeStretch benefits directly from an interlocking array of public, private, corporate and civic partners and contributors. With a staff of six professionals (two full-time and four part time), the organization can only hope for success through direct support from external partners and contributors. Public partners range from the federal level to the local, county level.

Contact: John E. Smith III, Phone: (770) 642-9185
Tracking Number: 1461
Winning Category: Program (Community Planning and Development)

Best Practice: PASSAGE Program

"Children Are Our Future"—PASSAGE Program Prevents High-Risk Behavior in Youths

Atlanta, Georgia. PASSAGE—Promoting Alternatives, Suggesting Solutions and Generating Excellence—has served more than 1,200 children living in public housing developments in Fulton County, Georgia, by providing an after-school program to support education and development and prevent high-risk behavior. As a result, school attendance is increased, high-school graduation rates are on the rise, and reading levels are improved. The PASSAGE program was created six years ago by the Housing Authority of Fulton County, in partnership with public and private organizations, to increase the school attendance records and

Photo of Mike Halbert/Joseph Jones receiving
Best of the Best award
Mike Halbert/Joseph Jones receiving Best of the Best award from Secretary Cuomo (l) and Deputy Secretary Ramirez (r)

grades of students who reside in public housing. The program is located in two public housing communities in Fulton County that serve large populations of families with children.

PASSAGE is designed for all school aged children and focuses on both academics and recreational activities and provides many opportunities for educational enrichment. The programs are developed through four overall PASSAGE goals: education, socialization, career development, and cultural awareness. Children participate in homework assistance sessions, tutoring, and field trips to enhance and emphasize the value of education. Computer labs on site provide the opportunity to complete homework assignments and gain computer skills through educational software. Teambuilding, conflict resolution, and peer mediation techniques are also a component of the program that teaches interpersonal and socialization skills.

Career Development in the PASSAGE program is emphasized early, while students are still in middle school, and focuses participants on what goals they want to accomplish after high school. Students are exposed to career opportunities, such as business or the military, and learn about the levels of education and skills required to achieve their goals. Cultural Awareness is promoted through a variety of ways, including outside activities recognizing the arts.

PASSAGE works in partnership with several community organizations to provide services to its participants. Organizations include the local school district, the Fulton County Parks and Recreation Department, and health department. Tutors for the after school programs are teachers in the school district, which maintains consistency between what the students are learning in school and in the program. The schools also track and monitor the participants’ progress in school.

The program is funded primarily through the Fulton County Housing Authority but receives grant funding for certain programs, such as through the HUD Drug Elimination grants and the Georgia Department of Education’s Reading Challenge program.

Since its implementation, the impact of this program in the public housing community has been tremendous. School attendance rates, report grades, and graduation rates have improved, on average, 75 percent. There has also been an increase in students attending post-secondary schools.

Contact: Bettye A. Davis, Phone: (404) 730-5842
Tracking Number: 2319
Winning Category: Program (Public and Indian Housing)

Best Practice: Hampton East Mixed Use

Hampton East Development—Provided Homes After the Flood

Albany, Georgia. Helping a community rebuild housing after a natural disaster is one of the first goals for local, state and governmental agencies. Finding the most effective and creative way to address the needs of the distressed community is the biggest challenge. The needs may vary from community to community and range from repair efforts on some homes to total replacement for others.

Hampton East is a development in Albany, Georgia that was created as a replacement for the unprecedented number of low- to moderate-income homes that were destroyed in a 1994 flood. The flood

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

damaged 5,805 housing units, or 23 percent of the housing units in the Albany area. Approximately 90 acres of mostly vacant land was developed to provide modern, affordable housing for an estimated 200 low- and moderate-income families, some of whom were flood victims. These were homes that were deemed in fair to substan-dard condition before the flood making repair efforts difficult. Many of the homes were rental properties. The most effective option was to replace the homes instead of focusing on repair efforts.

Hampton East also sought to address the entire needs of the community. Although housing was the most immediate need for the residents, the previous community lacked the necessary support services for its residents. This planned community provides, not only affordable housing, a daycare center, recreation facilities, and a shopping center but small business development opportunities as well. Residents of the new community also are included in the planning process for their new home. Qualified applicants can select a home plan and construct it with financing provided by local banks and the city’s Affordable Home Ownership Program. Hampton East can be a model for combined-use subdivision development. It is an ideal program for communities in need of quality housing in low- to moderate-income areas with available affordable land. Cooperation between local planning and construction boards and agencies, local residents and businesses, as well as funding from private and public agencies is key. An essential component of this program is the housing counseling sessions offered to participants to ensure permanent placement in the homes.

Although Hampton East was developed to address the specific need for housing after a natural disaster, the program went above and beyond the call for replacement housing. Hampton East saw the lack of community services in the poorer areas and decided to build those as well.

Contact: Rudolf Goddard, Phone: (912) 430-5283
Tracking Number: 2193
Winning Category: Geographic

Best Practice: The Pavilion at Campbell-Stone

The Pavilion at Campbell-Stone Apartments Meet the Needs of Alzheimer’s Residents

Atlanta, Georgia. As more and more of the senior residents at the Campbell-Stone Apartments began to face heightened complications and challenges associated with aging, the community’s Steering Committee came up with a pie-in-the-sky solution to what they saw as an increasing problem for residents. They wanted to add an additional facility to the two-building complex to provide full assisted living services for residents suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

The partially-Section 8-assisted complex converted one wing to assisted living in 1995, but the complications of developing a full-service Alzheimer’s assisted living center were daunting. There were many hurdles to overcome due to the uniqueness of the concept—adding a new facility to an existing HUD-assisted facility. Major hurdles included: 1) Need to raise equity of fund cash requirements; 2) Partial release of land, air, and utility rights from old facility to the new facility; 3) Alterations and modifications to the existing facility and attaching a new facility to the existing one; 4) Conversion of residential units; 5) High construction costs; and 6) Joint use management agreements to facilitate the co-existence of the two facilities. Despite the many technical complications, the Steering Committee acted on their plan to create the unique facility.

Campbell-Stone began a capital campaign in 1995, and early in 1996 met with HUD’s Atlanta office and the Atlanta Alzheimer’s Association, Area Agency on Aging, Piedmont Hospital, and the Georgia Association of Homes and Services for the Aging. HUD offered the feasibility of building the facility with the Section 232 program, and the Steering Committee approved a plan for 48 assisted living units. The group engaged the services of Continental Wingate as the lender, and after many meetings between the sponsor, lender, and HUD. HUD issued a formal invitation to Continental-Wingate to submit an application for the Alzheimer’s

facility to be called “Pavilion at Campbell-Stone.” The project was financed with Tax-Exempt Bonds (non-profit elderly revenue bonds) issued by the Development Authority of Fulton County, Georgia, insured under HUD’s Section 232 Program. Additional funds for closing costs were generated through the sale at a premium of tax-exempt bonds. The new facility held a grand opening in the Fall of 1999 and occupancy has begun.

The Pavilion at Campbell-Stone demonstrated the ability of a HUD-assisted facility to find ways to change along with the needs of its residents, and the ability to overcome obstacles to continue to serve residents as their needs increase. By identifying their needs, and then working with HUD and appropriate outside partners, the group found a way to exercise creativity within the bounds of the program and realize the dream of the new facility. As a result, the new facility provides an easier transition for residents of Campbell-Stone Apartments as complications from aging demand a higher level of care. The project also meets a growing demand for quality facilities dedicated to the care of persons suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

Contact: Jeffrey A. Fleming, Phone: (404) 331-5001 Ext. 2316
Tracking Number: 2729
Winning Category: Program (Housing - Multifamily)

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Content Archived: April 20, 2011

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