HUD Region VIII Quarterly Newsletter
Region VIII Finds Natural Link to Improving Health
The United States is in the midst of recovering from a tumultuous period in our housing markets. In the most recent Housing Scorecard released by the Obama Administration, data shows continued signs the market is strengthening. HUD and FHA are have played a central role in this recovery by stabilizing neighborhoods, helping struggling homeowners avoid foreclosure, and ensuring a flow of capital to support affordable housing despite a difficult fiscal climate.
Yet I also understand that our mission at HUD extends far beyond the obvious call to protect and preserve housing across our nation. We have a duty to support progress and reform in every aspect benefiting underserved communities. This includes support to the launch of the Affordable Care Act.
HUD's mission to provide quality, affordable housing was created with a specific priority in mind - to utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life. HUD and its local and state government partners witness the undeniable connection between quality of life and access to affordable healthcare every day. In fact, the families that HUD provides assistance to are among the neediest in our society. The average income for a HUD assisted family is $12,500. This too often leaves them with the choice of paying for health insurance or paying for basic goods and services.
The ACA is designed to drastically change that reality by developing new care delivery models to provide lower cost, higher quality health care. We are uniquely poised to partner with other federal agencies across the nation to help educate the public on how key components of the Affordable Care Act will impact their lives.
As the President has said "Those of us who believe that every American deserves access to quality affordable health care have an obligation to now make sure that full implementation (of the Affordable Care Act) moves forward the way it needs to."
With that charge in mind, HUD's Denver Regional Office has joined with 16 other federal departments within the National Prevention Council. This consortium is led by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Office of the Surgeon General. In June 2011, the council released the National Prevention Strategy, which was designed to guide our nation in the most effective and achievable means for improving health and well-being. This document also serves as a roadmap for federal partners to explore their role in improving the health of every American, at every stage of life.
The National Prevention Strategy identifies 7 priorities designed to improve health and wellness for the entire U.S. population, including those groups disproportionately affected by disease and injury. The seven priorities are:
The plan also outlines four strategic directions which serve as the foundation for all prevention efforts. The four strategic directions include:
Aligning our prevention efforts is central to the success of the National Prevention Strategy. As the Center for Disease Control (CDC) Public Health Advisor, LTC Shauna Mettee said during the most recent National Prevention Strategy meeting in Denver, "These relationships matter. They aren't just another collaborative meeting. They are key partnerships designed to foster real change throughout our communities."
Region VIII HUD has witnessed the power of these cross-agency partnerships. Just recently my staff and I participated in an event led by the U.S. Forest Service at Denver's City Park. Get Outdoors Colorado held its sixth annual event to expose families in the Denver metro area to the incredible health benefits available through outdoor activity.
We also partnered with Mental Health First Aid Colorado (MHFACO). MHFACO is a statewide, public education program committed to empowering individuals to identify, understand and respond to those in mental health and substance abuse crises. The results are two trained and qualified Region VIII Field Office Directors as Mental Health First Aid Instructors.
In addition, we partnered with HHS to develop an exciting webinar series called "Designing Healthy Communities: Promoting Affordable, Accessible, Safe, and Healthy Housing Webinar" The webinar featured HUD's recent sustainable communities partners in Rifle, CO; Pine Ridge, SD and Denver, CO.
I know these steps are just the beginning of our journey toward transforming local communities. Whether the reason is better housing or health, we stand ready to champion the rights of the most vulnerable members of our society and we look forward to the changes the National Prevention Strategy will make throughout the Rocky Mountain HUD Region.
Rick M. Garcia
In This Issue
• National Report • HUD Secretary Releases Video Message on HUD's Role in the Affordable Care Act • President Obama Announces Climate Action Plan • HUD Announces New Proposed Rule on Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing • HUD Housing Counseling Grants Awarded Nationwide • HUD Releases First-Ever Same Sex Housing Discrimination Study • New Olmstead Guidance Issued For HUD-Assisted Housing Providers • Housing Discrimination Study Reveals Mixed Results • HUD Partners with VA to Provide Homes for Homeless Vets • Growing Trend for Smoke-Free Housing • News You Can Use • Office of Native American Programs • Around the Region • Colorado • Montana • North Dakota • South Dakota • Utah • Wyoming •
HUD Secretary, Shaun Donovan recently released a video message detailing key components of the Affordable Care Act and its significance to the people HUD serves, HUD employees, and friends and family.
Helping the more than 48 million Americans who are currently uninsured has been a priority for President Obama. Many of those uninsured individuals are low-income Americans that rely on HUD services; that is why HUD is committed to our mission of building strong and healthy communities across the country and promoting information about the Affordable Care Act with the people we serve.
The Affordable Care Act that President Obama signed into law in 2010 has - and will continue to go a long way in helping us achieve this mission and will allow working families to gain access to quality care, while strengthening their financial future.
To learn more, watch Secretary Donovan's video message on the Affordable Care act or visit healthcare.gov.
On June 25, 2013, the President announced a comprehensive Climate Action Plan. The plan will implement new rules to cut carbon pollution and help move our economy toward American-made clean energy sources that will create jobs and lower home energy bills. Specifically, the plan directs the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to implement carbon pollution standards for both new and existing power plants. Another core element of the plan is to increase efficiency standards for cars, consumer products, and appliances in order to substantially reduce the amount of energy consumed by American families and businesses. Finally, the plan steps up our global efforts to lead on climate change, while advancing national strategies to address climate resilience and disaster preparedness.
HUD has already made huge strides toward the goal of promoting clean energy and better building practices. In fact, several components of HUD's energy priorities were included in the Climate Action Plan, to include:
To learn more about HUD's role in implementing innovative and sustainable energy practices, read HUD Deputy Secretary Maurice Jones' "Creating a More Stable Environment for Future Generations."
HUD has published a new proposed rule to Affirmatively Further Fair Housing (AFFH) in the Federal Register and made available background materials and a prototype geospatial tool. AFFH refers to the 1968 Fair Housing Act's obligation for state and local governments to improve and achieve more meaningful outcomes from fair housing policies, so that every American has the right to fair housing, regardless of their race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability or familial status.
The proposed rule refines existing requirements so the individuals, organizations, and state and local governments implementing HUD programs better understand their requirements under the Fair Housing Act and have the tools they need to Affirmatively Further Fair Housing, ensuring that every American has the opportunity to live in the community of their choice without facing discrimination.
Under the proposed new rule, HUD will provide program participants with:
As part of the rule making process, members of the public will have an opportunity to review the proposed AFFH rule and submit their thoughts, comments or questions via Regulations.gov. The public comment period will last for 60 days starting on Friday July 19th.
As part of its continuing effort to assist families and individuals with their housing needs and to prevent future foreclosures, HUD announced more than $40 million in housing counseling grants to 334 national, regional and local organizations. As a result of these grants and the additional funding they help leverage, more than 1.6 million households will have a greater opportunity to find housing, make more informed housing choices or keep their current homes. See list of all counseling agencies awarded funding today.
More than $38 million in grant funds will directly support the housing counseling services provided by 27 national and regional organizations, 8 multi-state organizations, 22 State Housing Finance Agencies (SHFAs) and 277 local housing counseling agencies. In addition, HUD is awarding $2 million to two national organizations to train housing counselors who will receive the instruction and certification necessary to effectively assist families with their housing needs.
Read a summary of each grant, organized by state on HUD's website.
HUD has released the nation's first-ever national study examining housing discrimination against same-sex couples in the private rental market. The study, An Estimate of Housing Discrimination Against Same-Sex Couples, measures the treatment same-sex couples receive from rental agents when inquiring about apartments advertised online, as compared to how otherwise similar heterosexual couples are treated.
According to HUD's study, same-sex couples experience unequal treatment more often than heterosexual couples when responding to internet ads for rental units, and findings show that gay male couples experience more discrimination than lesbian couples. The study is based on nearly 7,000 email tests conducted in 50 metropolitan markets across the country between June and October of 2011.
The Fair Housing Act makes it illegal to discriminate in rental, sales and lending on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability and familial status, however it does not include sexual orientation or gender identity as protected classes. Nonetheless, 20 states and the District of Columbia, and more than 150 cities, towns and counties across the nation have laws that specifically prohibit discrimination against LGBT individuals.
HUD has issued new guidance to HUD-assisted housing providers on how they can support state and local Olmstead efforts to increase the integrated housing opportunities for individuals with disabilities who are transitioning from, or at serious risk of entering, institutions and other restrictive, segregated settings. Read HUD's new guidance.
Olmstead refers to the 1999 Supreme Court landmark decision, Olmstead v. L.C., which affirmed that the unjustified segregation of individuals with disabilities is an illegal form of discrimination. Following the Olmstead decision, many states are working hard to assist individuals living in institutions and other segregated settings to move to integrated, community-based settings where they can receive the health care and long-term services and supports they need. Many of these efforts, though, are confounded by a lack of integrated and affordable housing options for persons with disabilities.
HUD's new guidance encourages public housing agencies and other HUD-assisted housing providers to consider the housing needs of their individual communities and their state and to partner with state and local governments to provide additional community-based, integrated housing opportunities. HUD's guidance is consistent with efforts across federal agencies and in many states to provide appropriate health care and related supportive services for individuals with disabilities in the most integrated setting appropriate to their needs.
Blatant acts of housing discrimination faced by minority home seekers continue to decline in the U.S., yet more subtle forms of housing denial stubbornly persist, according to a new summary study released by HUD. Housing Discrimination against Racial and Ethnic Minorities 2012 finds African-Americans, Hispanics and Asians learn about fewer housing options than equally qualified whites.
Real estate agents and rental housing providers recommend and show fewer available homes and apartments to minority families, thereby increasing their costs and restricting their housing options. The study concludes this is a national, not a regional, phenomenon.
This is the fourth in a series of national studies sponsored by HUD roughly each decade to measure housing discrimination in rental and sales markets, since 1979. It finds that while minorities today are rarely denied an appointment to see an advertised unit, less blatant forms of unequal treatment persist.
Approximately 9,000 homeless veterans living on the streets and in the nation's shelter system will soon find a permanent place to call home. HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Eric K. Shinseki announced recently that HUD will provide $60 million to local public housing agencies across the country to provide permanent supportive housing to homeless veterans, many of whom are living with chronic disabling conditions.
The supportive housing assistance is provided through the HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) Program which combines rental assistance from HUD with case management and clinical services provided by VA. Since 2008, a total of 48,385 vouchers have been awarded and 42,557 formerly homeless veterans are currently in homes because of HUD-VASH.
Donovan and Shinseki announced this additional support for homeless veterans in an address to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans Annual Conference in Washington. Find out how much of this assistance will help homeless veterans in your area.
HUD-VASH is a critical part of the Obama Administration's commitment to end Veteran and long-term chronic homelessness by 2015. Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness serves as a roadmap for how the federal government will work with state and local communities to confront the root causes of homelessness, especially among former servicemen and women.
HUD has launched a set of tools that provides encouragement and guidance for private owners of federally assisted multifamily housing and public housing authorities with adopting smoke-free policies to protect residents from the dangers of second-hand smoke and to reduce property maintenance costs. HUD Assistant Secretary for Public and Indian Housing Sandra Henriquez stated, "HUD is working hard to promote health and prevent disease by encouraging public housing agencies, multi-family owners and agents, as well as residents, to work with their local public health and medical communities to adopt smoke-free housing policies. We want to provide them with resources as we work together to create healthy homes."
HUD has introduced "Smoke-Free Housing Toolkits" that can be used by multifamily housing managers/owners, public housing authorities, and residents to promote healthier housing. The owner's toolkit includes HUD's guidance to public housing authorities and multifamily housing owners and managers, such as the following: A Guide to Implementing No-smoking Policies, A Sample Resident Survey, Frequently Asked Questions, and other useful resources.
The residents' kit includes: A Going Smoke-free Guide, A Home Smoke-free Pledge Kit, and additional education materials about second-hand smoke. Both kits can be found at HUD's website: http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/smokefreetoolkits1
More and more people throughout the country are seeking smoke-free housing for themselves and their families. Concerns and complaints by residents regarding smoke exposure, increased knowledge about the dangers of secondhand smoke, economic savings to property owners, and expanding appeal for healthy living are the key reasons for this growing trend.
Many market leaders across the state and throughout the country are discovering that, contrary to conventional thought; when they eliminate smoking from their residential communities they attract new residents. The trend for smoke-free housing continues to grow. To learn more, visit HUD's Office of Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard Control (OHHLHC).
Paiute Tribe Uses Funding to Spur New Community Project
In Fiscal Year (FY) 2012, the Paiute Tribe of Utah was awarded $900,000 in Indian Community Development Block Grant (ICDBG) funding. The funding will be used to develop 73 camping sites and a new 2,880 square foot clubhouse for a fully functional RV Park Campground owned and operated by the Tribe. Of the 73 campsites, 30 will be pull-through (two ADA accessible); 30 back-in, 11 for tents and two camper cabins (one ADA accessible).
The clubhouse will include restrooms, showers, laundry facilities, game and exercise rooms, and a lobby featuring a computer kiosk and breakfast nook. The Tribe hopes to build a pool in the future. The project will be ADA accessible and planned using Universal Design guidelines and Energy Star cooling, water heating, insulation, etc.
The project will create five new sustainable jobs for low to middle income tribal members and will provide an area-wide benefit by providing support for new businesses created by the campground. The revenues generated by the business will benefit the community's access to health and wellness resources, educational, social and recreational activities. The project will be located at Indian Peaks on tribal land with access to Interstate Highway 15.
HUD Funding Supports Affordable Housing in Hundreds of Native American Communities
HUD has awarded $563 million to 353 American Indian and Alaskan Native entities that represent 539 tribes across the U.S. Provided through HUD's Indian Housing Block Grant (IHBG) Program, these funds are distributed annually to eligible Indian tribes or their tribally designated housing entities for a broad range of affordable housing activities (see local grants).
IHBG funds primarily benefit hardworking families, living on reservations or in other Native American communities, who don't have the financial resources to maintain good homes, schools, or other key contributors to economic security. The amount of each grant is based on a formula that considers local needs and housing units under management by the tribe or designated entity.
Indian communities can use the funding for a variety of housing activities, including building affordable housing; providing assistance to existing housing that was developed under the Indian Housing Program authorized by the U.S. Housing Act of 1937; or other activities that create new approaches to provide more affordable housing for Native Americans. The funding is also used to offer housing services to eligible families and individuals; and establish crime prevention and safety measures. The block grant approach to housing was established by the Native American Housing Assistance and Self Determination Act of 1996 (NAHASDA)
Visit the Office of Native American Programs to learn more.
Housing without Borders: HUD Region VIII Exchanges Ideas with Top Canadian Housing Official
In a rare opportunity, HUD's Rocky Mountain Deputy Regional Administrator had the privilege of meeting one of Canada's top housing officials. As the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO) summer conference drew to a close in Denver on Friday, July 19th, Deputy Regional Administrator, Dan Gomez Jr. sat down with the President of the Canadian Housing & Renewal Association (CHRA), Phil Brown.
Created in 1967, CHRA represents the only national voice in Canada speaking on the full range of issues related to affordable housing. Its mission mirrors HUD's goals in that it was designed to ensure that all Canadians have an affordable, secure and decent place to call home. As the newly elected President, Mr. Brown recognizes the 25% increase in CHRA membership and its widening range of influence as proof of the organization's emergence as Canada's "home for the housing sector."
In a closed door meeting, Deputy Regional Administrator Gomez and Mr. Brown discussed the significant policies which drive the public housing sector in the United States. They examined issues such as Low Income Tax Credits and the variations between Demolition and Disposition of public housing and the Rental Assistance Demonstration program.
They also discussed the importance of federal partnerships in complimenting resources across various agencies. The Sustainable Communities Initiative and HUD's role in the upcoming launch of the Affordable Care Act were key examples.
As the General Manager of the Shelter, Support and Housing Administration Division at the City of Toronto, Mr. Brown was also interested in learning about HUD's approach to tackling homelessness through the Continuums of Care and the Shelter Plus program. Deputy Regional Administrator Gomez said, "I was impressed with the mutual exchange of ideas and approaches as we examined the differences in our nations' housing policies."
Deputy Regional Administrator Gomez also said, "The U.S. and Canada, though unique in the design and framework of our respective housing programs, both face a similar challenge, as we move beyond the bricks and mortar of housing to include supportive services for residents and their communities."
Making Life Better in the Denver Region: HUD Grant Boosts Regional Planning
As a 2011 Sustainable Communities grant recipient, the Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG) is focusing on leveraging the metro area's investment in transit to increase access to job opportunities, decrease combined transportation and housing costs, reduce environmental impacts, encourage alternative access, and promote the development of mixed-use communities.
By building on its work within three Regional Transportation District FasTracks corridors, the Sustainable Communities Initiative (SCI) is having significant impacts on regional planning. The experience gained in working collaboratively with partners and stakeholders provides a model for ongoing and future regional planning activities. The information derived from the corridor planning work and other activities will inform DRCOG's regional planning efforts.
A portion of the grant is funding efforts to explore housing, and community and economic development as part of Metro Vision 2040, the update to the Denver region's long-range plan for growth and development. Specifically, grant activities include the completion of a regional Fair Housing Equity Assessment (FHEA) and regional housing strategy that will provide guidance to planners and elected officials in the 56 jurisdictions that comprise DRCOG's membership. DRCOG is reaching out to economic development experts to better understand how integrating housing, transit, and economic planning can support better public policy and enhance the region's long-term viability.
Overall, SCI outcomes will include information and strategies that will improve the Denver region's prospects for sustainable growth and make life better for people of all ages, incomes and abilities.
Denver Office of Public Housing Recruits Five Summer Interns
The Denver Office of Public Housing (OPH) has established a regular volunteer internship recruitment process, successfully recruiting five volunteers for the summer of 2013. Three of the interns are law students from the University of Colorado Law School and two additional interns are earning undergraduate degrees - one in economics and the other in behavioral science. OPH has assigned projects relevant to each intern's area of study, providing on-the-job training that will boost the interns' resumes in today's tough job market.
Though most of the interns are less than half way through their internships as of the date of this publication, they have already provided excellent work products for OPH. All of the interns are providing "fresh eyes" for the Department's published guidance and training materials, ensuring that highly technical publications are clear to people who are new to OPH's programs. OPH has charged its undergraduate interns with data analysis projects that will help Public Housing Authorities (PHA) serve more families. The legal interns are producing reference materials to help PHAs understand the nuances of OPH policy and assisting staff in ensuring PHA compliance with HUD regulations.
Ann Roman, Janice Rodriquez, and Eva Tafoya developed the recruitment plan, which allows for continual position postings after laying initial groundwork. After compiling a list of all area colleges, they decided to recruit from ten schools with established programs that allow interns to receive academic credit. Ms. Tafoya developed standard position language and created accounts to post openings at each school, which allows for quarterly re-opening of positions in a matter of minutes. Ms. Roman and Ms. Rodriquez interviewed and selected qualified applicants. Administrative tasks to bring the interns on board included determining which forms were required for the human resources package, collecting the forms from students, and completing schools' requirements for students' grant and academic credit applications.
OPH plans to continue its recruitment efforts, hopefully expanding to a nationwide recruitment process through USAJOBS. Internships provide students with meaningful hands-on experience while assisting HUD staff to complete their "rainy day" projects. OPH's regular crew is very impressed with the quality of work these interns produce and looks forward to working with more interns in the future.
Ft. Belknap Hosts Tribal Housing Fair
In late June, the Helena Field Office participated in the first annual Indian Community Council Tribal Housing Fair on the Ft. Belknap Indian Reservation in north-central Montana. The reservation, located 40 miles south of the Canadian border, covers over 1,200 square miles and is home to two Native American tribes. Ft. Belknap has around 7,000 enrolled tribal members and is the fourth largest Indian Reservation in Montana.
At the event, HUD promoted the Section 184 Loan Guarantee Program as well as other opportunities for attendees seeking more information about the home-buying process.
Section 184 home loans are designed to provide access to mortgage financing to Native American tribal members and are 100% guaranteed by the Office of Loan Guarantee within the Department's Office of Native American Programs. With over 500 loans made through this program, Montana has the highest number of Section 184 home loans in Region 8. Other agencies participating in the event included: USDA - Rural Development, Veterans Affairs, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Native American Community Development Corporation, Wells Fargo, and various other tribal and non-profit organizations.
Affordable Senior Housing Construction Begins in Grand Forks
Low-income seniors in Grand Forks will soon have a new place to call home thanks to an innovative state program administered by the North Dakota Housing Finance Agency (NDHFA). Valley Memorial Homes recently began construction of Cherrywood Village, a two-story apartment complex that will provide 30 units of affordable housing for individuals age 62 and older. The project was funded in part by the North Dakota Housing Incentive Fund (HIF) which also received funding support from HUD, the City of Grand Forks, and several local organizations.
The Grand Forks Blue Ribbon Housing Commission's Housing Market Snapshot projects that the city's households headed by residents age 55 or older will continue to grow and that the existing senior population not yet requiring assisted living services are having difficulty finding affordable, accessible housing options.
Located at 3350 Cherry Street, the one-bedroom units will be targeted to households at 30 to 50 percent of Area Median Income. In Grand Forks County, a one-person household that earns no more than $14,220 would pay approximately $380 per month for rent.
The total cost of constructing the two-story building is estimated at $4.75 million. Valley Memorial Homes anticipates that the project will be completed by June 2014.
Housing Opportunity Fund Designed to Open Doors in SD
Housing and homeless advocates in South Dakota celebrated a tremendous victory, as Governor Dennis Daugaard signed SB 235 into law on March 20, establishing the Housing Opportunity Fund to preserve and expand sustainable, affordable and safe housing in communities throughout the state. The Housing Opportunity Fund is part of the multi-pronged Building South Dakota economic development initiative and has dedicated funding from a Contractor's Excise Tax and the state Unclaimed Property Fund. South Dakota becomes the 47th state with at least one statewide trust fund.
The Housing Opportunity Fund will provide financing for the construction or rehabilitation of rental or homeowner housing, the preservation of existing affordable homes, home repair to increase accessibility and efficiency, homelessness prevention activities, as well as investing in community land trusts. The Housing Opportunity Fund is targeted to low and moderate income families and individuals with a maximum income at or below 115% of the area median income. There is a set aside that designates 30% of the funding to municipalities with populations of more than fifty thousand, and 70% to the remainder of the state. Fund revenues may be used to provide grants, loans, loans guarantees, loan subsidies and other financial assistance to eligible applicants. Eligible applicants include any for-profit entity, non-profit entity, tribal government, housing authority, political subdivision of the state or its agencies, or any agency of the state; individuals are prohibited from applying for funding.
The South Dakota Housing Development Authority (SDHDA) will administer the Housing Opportunity Fund. SDHDA will make funding awards through an annual application cycle with a competitive process based on criteria that will be developed by SDHDA.
HUD Awards $2.5 Million to Salt Lake County
HUD awarded $2.5 million in a grant to Salt Lake County to protect children and families from the hazards of lead-based paint and from other home health and safety hazards.
The grant funding will clean up lead paint hazards and other health hazards in high-risk homes, train workers in lead-safe work practices, and increase public awareness about childhood lead poisoning. Lead is a known toxin that can impair children's development and have effects lasting into adulthood.
These grant programs of HUD's Office of Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard Control promote local efforts to eliminate dangerous lead hazards from lower income homes; stimulate private sector investment in lead hazard control; and educate the public about the dangers of lead-based paint. A complete project-by-project summary of the programs awarded grants today can be found on HUD's website.
Governor Matt Mead Announces Homeless Plan
Gov. Matt Mead recently announced that the Wyoming Department of Family Services (DFS) will now manage the state's homeless services. The announcement filled a void in Wyoming government, which previously played no formal role in coordinating homeless services in the state. The governor said DFS will be responsible for assessing data and inventory of community and state programs and creating a 10-year plan to address homelessness.
Governor Mead's announcement represented the culmination of months of planning. The governor asked DFS Director, Steve Corsi, to look into the issue earlier this year after a spike in Wyoming homelessness was reported by the January Point-In-Time Count conducted by HUD.
Homelessness in Wyoming, according to the most recent HUD Point-In-Time Count, increased by 75 percent between 2011 and 2012 (from 1,038 to 1,813 people). A portion of the increase has been attributed to a more accurate and detailed reporting of homeless individuals and families.
Wyoming previously lacked a state employee charged with overseeing homeless services. As part of the announcement, Brenda Lyttle was appointed the state homelessness coordinator. Federal, state, and local groups who monitor the state's homelessness levels are optimistic about the government's increasing role in addressing this issue.
Grantee Spotlight - Amazing Progress in One Year: A Vision West ND Update
"Never underestimate the power of a small group of committed people to change the world. In fact, it is the only thing that ever has." states a famous quote by Margaret Mead. The dedicated people of Vision West ND may not change the world on a grand scale, but they are paving the way for change in their corner of world - western North Dakota.
The Vision West ND project began in February 2012. At the onset, all those involved knew they were part of a very important project, but no one could have predicted the exceptional collaboration that would ensue that made giant leaps forward possible in only one year's time.
Vision West ND is comprised of 19 western North Dakota counties, Three Affiliated Tribes, four universities and colleges, two regional councils, Rural Economic Area Partnership (REAP) Fund, Southwest REAP Zone, and North Dakota Association of Oil and Gas Producing Counties. This consortium, along with nearly 1,000 people in the region participated in numerous planning meetings, from specific small group meetings to town hall meetings open to the public, to identify challenges and find solutions to meet individual community and regional needs.
As the recipient of a $1.5 million HUD Planning Grant, Vision West ND is setting the stage for economic sustainability in North Dakota.
Vision West ND Consortium Chairman Dan Brosz notes, "the participation of people in the region is remarkable. The local population wants to be heard, and more importantly, they want to be part of the solution. We saw this time and time again as we went through the project process."
The Vision West ND team heard the messages loud and clear. Cities need more funding for vital infrastructure such as water and wastewater systems. Their roads have taken a beating with the extensive truck traffic brought on by increased oil production in the region. Solutions for housing and daycare were critical to sustain the additional population needed for employment in these cities. Existing businesses wanted support and a focus for downtowns to survive and thrive was brought to the forefront. Vision West ND collaborated with communities and tribes to work toward viable solutions to these issues. They have created 21 local community Economic Development Strategic Plans, which give leaders a roadmap to help guide their communities to sustainable solutions.
To learn more about the success Vision West ND is having throughout North Dakota visit their website or sign up for their free e-newsletter.
|Content Archived: February 20, 2015|