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2000 Best Practice Awards

Best of the Best Winners: Utah

Best Practice: Section 8 Lease Up Extravaganza


Salt Lake City, Utah. The room resembled college registration with tables across the back and lines snaking out the door. Rather than students, however, hundreds of families on welfare gathered on a winter day in 2000 to participate in a Section 8 Lease-Up Extravaganza hosted by the Salt Lake City Housing Authority. Less than six weeks later, 200 low-income families had obtained housing using 96 percent of the housing authority’s available Welfare to Work vouchers.

The event was the brainchild of Jill Riddle, the housing authority’s leased housing

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

supervisor. After hearing about a similar event during a conference, Ms. Riddle worked on a modified version with housing authority management. Commitment from the housing authority director, the mayor, HUD staff and local organizations that included the Salt Lake Apartment Association, a group of prominent area landlords, and the Horizonte Instruction and Training Center, a nonprofit providing education to low-income individuals, contributed to the success of the mass lease-up.

The housing authority began by holding a press conference to raise awareness of the voucher program. At the press event, Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson spoke about the need for affordable housing, and HUD State Coordinator Julie Fagan highlighted the positive impact that the voucher program would have on the community.

Three weeks after the press conference, the housing authority had persuaded the Salt Lake Apartment Association to market and host landlord training on the Section 8/Housing Choice Voucher program. A slight rise in area vacancies had helped the housing authority convince the association of the need for the training. A panel at the training session included housing authority staff describing the voucher program and an association attorney explaining landlord benefits under the Housing Choice Voucher contract. Landlords signed up on interest sheets and gave permission for distribution of the list to
potential residents.

The next step—mass intake—began with notification of 300 families on the housing authority’s waiting list to bring in appropriate documents and verification data. The Section 8 staff set up a wall of tables in the back of a room and qualified more than 300 families in two days, with the help of the state’s Department of Workforce Services, which faxed family qualifying information to the authority within a day.

Just two weeks after the landlord training, qualified families were invited to a two-day mass orientation held in a large cafeteria donated by the Horizonte Instruction and Training Center. Five Section 8 caseworkers roamed through the room, answering questions, and helping families review and sign their paperwork.

Each family was provided with the list of landlords who had signed interest sheets, and a competitive house hunt began, with 200 vouchers available to the 300 families. Families were locating apartments and receiving landlord approval at a rate of six a day. Six weeks after the mass orientation, low-income families have used all but eight of the 200 vouchers.

The extravaganza broke through the formerly lengthy lease-up process. Perhaps more importantly, it helped change the lives of residents. For Rainna Park, a single mother with three children aged 8, 7 and 2 who has moved 18 times during the past two years while waiting to reach the top of the authority’s list, the program provided a townhouse, a job with a church distribution center and a future for her family.

Contact: Jill Riddle, Phone: (801) 487-2161 x1209
Tracking Number: 73
Winning Category: Geographic and Program (Public and Indian Housing)

Best Practice: Homeless Veterans Apartment Complex

Program Provides Housing for Homeless Veterans

Salt Lake City, Utah. The Housing Authority of Salt Lake City, Utah (HASLC), brought together nontraditional funding partners to acquire and rehabilitate a 14-unit complex for homeless veterans who were willing to enter into a lease requiring a mandatory work component.

The program, the first in HUD’s Rocky Mountain Region, was innovative in the way it brought in partners to provide the housing, casework and social services, and vocational training and job placement. Grant proposals were written to the Department of Veteran Affairs, the State of Utah, HUD HOME funds, the Federal Home Loan Bank of Seattle

Photo of Eileen Hjorth, Rosemary Caps and Michael Telegose receiving award from Secretary Cuomo & Deputy Secretary Ramirez
Eileen Hjorth, Rosemary Caps and Michael Telegose receiving Best of the Best award from Secretary Cuomo (l) and Deputy Secretary Ramirez (r)

through First Security Bank, and the Salt Lake City Redevelopment Agency.

HASLC’s program was developed to serve a specific clientele, the homeless veteran. The veteran must have the physical ability to participate in a vocational job training program and is required to pay 30 percent of his income toward the rent. Residents are required to maintain their apartments in a safe and sanitary condition, and are encouraged to maintain the grounds to foster community pride.

Monthly meetings are held to address any property management or case management issues. The program offers independent living opportunities and vocational training within a supportive environment. The goal is to break the cycle of homelessness through transitional housing, resolve problems that contribute to homelessness, and help the veteran earn enough money to live in the community after 18-24 months.

Faced with a number of challenges, including finding a suitable building and convincing the neighborhood that this was a good program, HASLC collaborated with local nonprofit organizations, a federal agency and faith-based organizations. The project has a number of tangible results:

  • A 14-unit dilapidated apartment complex has been bought, rehabilitated and is now an asset to the community.
  • The creative funding for this project opened the doors for more collaboration between the housing authority and Veterans Affairs.
  • Collaboration with a local manufacturer created a new partnership that is valuable to the housing authority in its other programs.
  • The collaboration with other partners broadened the housing authority’s visibility in the community and led to an improved relationship with the private sector.
  • To date, 24 formerly homeless veterans have a safe place to live, are in active case management and are learning new job skills.

Intangible benefits include the veterans’ new sense of belonging. They are moved from a crowded shelter into an apartment that they can call their own. They are given the opportunity to work with a case manager to help them break the habits that caused them to be homeless. Veterans are given a place of employment free of prejudice about their past history.

To establish a similar program, communities should determine the scale and scope of the homeless veteran problem; identify third-party service providers, prospective employers and referral agencies; identify a suitable site; assemble funding, obtain approvals, purchase the site, build or rehabilitate the structure; negotiate and sign agreements with service providers and employers; and identify, screen and qualify prospective clients.

Contact: Eileen Hjorth, Phone: (801) 487-2161 Ext.1220
Tracking Number: 72
Winning Category: Program (Public and Indian Housing)

Best Practice: Northeastern Housing Partnership

Utah Partnership Provides Affordable Housing and Job Training

Roosevelt, Utah. The Northeastern Housing Partnership in Utah is an innovative solution to producing quality affordable housing units while at the same time teaching job skills to inmates in a local prison. Inmates receive training in building homes for a wage of 50 cents per hour, while under the supervision of a licensed contractor from the Uintah Basin Applied Technology Center. The Partnership is made up of three state units; the Uintah Basin Association of Governments, which is responsible for financing the homes while in the construction process; Duchesne County Justice Complex, which provides a

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

compound where modular houses can be built by the inmates; and Uintah Basin Applied Technology Center, which provides the instructors to train and oversee the construction of the homes. The homes are then moved to the site and placed on foundations. Local contractors perform all site work allowing them to benefit from the partnership.

To be eligible to buy a home in the program, a family needs to be low-income, but yet able to qualify for a conventional loan, which requires a good credit rating and good debt ratios. The two families that have qualified to date have both been single mothers with two children.

The three rural counties that make up the Uintah Basin area have a weak economy, and decent affordable housing is scarce. At present, numerous older substandard mobile homes are left over from the 1970s, and they need to be replaced with affordable housing.

On average, completing a home takes between three to four months, and the houses cost $55,000 to $58,000 while other homes in the area cost an average of $86,000, making the new homes built by prison inmates a good buy for low-income families. To replicate the process the following three entities would have to come together in a partnership: local government entity with a funding source, local prison interested in providing a housing construction program for the inmates, and a local trade school interested in teaching the construction program at the prison.

Contact: Curtis Dastrup, Phone: (435) 722-4518
Tracking Number: 118
Winning Category: Program (Community Builder)

Best Practice: Habitat for Humanity Northern Utah - City Creek Estates - Spring Break - Collegiate Challenge 2000

Volunteers Build Affordable Homes in Utah

Salt Lake City, Utah. College students from distant states traveled to Brigham City, Utah, to join local volunteers in constructing homes for low-income families during the Spring Break 2000 Build. Through Habitat for Humanity’s Collegiate Challenge program, volunteers are matched with communities in search of construction help, and together they learn valuable teamwork and building skills while creating needed affordable housing. For the Habitat for Humanity Northern Utah chapter, the students who spent their spring break working with local volunteers contributed more than just time and labor—they brought spirit and good will to the community that has encouraged others to volunteer. The City Creek Estates

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

project being developed by Habitat for Humanity Northern Utah consists of 17 townhouse units that will be purchased by families with 30 percent to 50 percent median area income who might otherwise be unable to afford their own home. Homes are made affordable to the families through zero percent interest, no-profit mortgages and costs are contained through the donation of materials, the work of volunteers, and the sweat equity of the future homeowners.

The increased density of the City Creek Estates development takes full advantage of the land available and reduces construction costs, which increases the savings for the future homebuyers. The townhouse-style construction also allows Habitat to help more people in less time.

Funding from a Federal Home Loan Bank grant enabled Habitat for Humanity Northern Utah to speed up the construction schedule for the City Creek Estates development and request the assistance of additional volunteers through the Collegiate Challenge program. Eleven students from the State York at Cortland State and the University of Wisconsin at LaCrosse traveled to Utah at their own expense to spend their spring breaks building the homes with volunteers from local churches, youth groups, and the prospective homeowners.

To host the students, several congregations in Brigham City worked together to provide meals for the guests. The Habitat chapter worked with the Utah National Guard to supply housing accommodations for the students during their week-long stay.

“I wish we had ten more Collegiate Challenges—they were so dedicated,” said Habitat for Humanity Northern Utah board member Don Mitchell. Many of the students had participated in Habitat projects before, but wanted to take the opportunity to volunteer in a smaller community. Under the direction of the construction supervisor, the students learned framing, sub-floor installation, and other construction skills.

While the Collegiate Challenge participants are one of many groups to work with Habitat for Humanity Northern Utah on the City Creek Estates development, their presence in the community generated press coverage that raised awareness of the project and the work of all Habitat volunteers. As a result, new organizations were eager to volunteer their time and labor to the project and join with groups such as the students from area high schools and Utah State University and local churches who were already involved.

Contact: Patricia Williams, Phone: (801) 524-6076
Tracking Number: 83
Winning Category: Program (Community Planning and Development)

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Content Archived: April 20, 2011

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