Housing on Merit’s mission is to create a bridge to permanent affordable housing for vulnerable populations. We achieve our mission through developing affordable housing, providing resident services programming, and housing our heroes.
Housing is infrastructure. Research has shown that clean, safe affordable housing is of foundational importance for general health, child welfare, and a stable labor market. Since its inception in 2011, Housing on Merit has co-developed over 2,200 units of affordable housing in California and Washington, D.C. The supply of affordable housing has failed to keep up with the fast growing demand. In Southern California alone there is a shortage of nearly 1 million affordable homes. The decrease in affordable housing has been met with an increase in median rent that far exceeds the increase in household incomes. Housing on Merit is addressing the affordable housing crisis through innovation—specifically, a Housing Innovation + Learning Lab that explores non-traditional affordable housing options, tests innovative housing typologies, and accelerates the pace of production throughout the housing sector.
Housing on Merit’s resident services are designed to enhance the resident experience and promote individual and family development. We have developed a resident services programming model that allows us to measure participant outcomes as they relate to economic self-sufficiency, child and youth development, health and wellness, and community-building and civic engagement. Affordable housing creates stability; resident services programming enriches lives.
Housing Our Heroes is a program created to reduce the number of women veterans experiencing homelessness in Southern California. Through our Award of Merit for Housing Assistance, Housing on Merit provides funds to women veterans facing homelessness to help remove barriers to permanent affordable housing.
Our work is creating multiple pathways to permanent affordable housing and is helping to welcome vulnerable populations HOM!
Housing on Merit’s Executive Director Jennifer Litwak has become the newest graduate of the Development Finance Certified Professional (DFCP) program. The intense training course is designed to produce graduates with a comprehensive knowledge of development finance concepts, as well as a thorough knowledge of the full development finance spectrum. The course is administered by the Council of Development Finance Agencies (CDFA) and is the industry’s sole comprehensive development finance professional certification program. Graduates gain valuable experience and knowledge within the complex development finance industry. “Jennifer’s commitment to equity in all the communities in which she works makes her an excellent example of the quality of graduates we see work through the DFCP Program,” said Toby Rittner, President & CEO of CDFA.
The Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) Network is the industry’s premier business networking organization dedicated to transforming the commercial real estate industry by advancing women globally. HOM’s Executive Director, Jennifer Litwak, serves on the Network’s Industry Research Committee which recently released its 2018 white paper, Achieving Pay Parity in Commercial Real Estate. The paper presents expert insight, data, best practices and action items for company leadership, human resources, and women professionals to close the gender pay gap. CREW’s most recent data found a 23.3% gender pay gap among industry professionals. The publication also explores why the pay gap continues to exist and what’s on the horizon for equal-pay-for-equal-work legislation globally. Recent social movements have heightened society-wide awareness about negative treatment and pay disparities that women are facing in the workplace. Like other industries, commercial real estate is now under greater pressure to address these issues as companies strive to meet equality, diversity and inclusion goals.
Housing on Merit is eager to expand and promote the collaborative efforts of innovative thinkers committed to addressing the affordable housing crisis in Southern California. HOM Board Member Monica Ball and Project Management Assistant Christopher Velasco recently attended the grand opening of FlyawayHomes’ Colden Street Project in Los Angles and tour of Potter’s Lane in Orange County. Participants viewed newly constructed housing units built out of recycled shipping containers intended to function as permanent supportive housing. The event was hosted by the Downtown Community Planning Council (DCPC) Social Issues Sub-Committee and Urban People Living In Faith & Trust Transforming Lives (UPLIFT). HOM attended this event with the Regional Task Force on the Homeless, Funders Together to End Homelessness, Senator Ben Hueso’s Office, Downtown Fellowship, San Diego County, Salvation Army, PATH, Price Charities, New School of Architecture, Downtown Residents Group and the East Village Residents Group.
In September, Housing on Merit along with its development team, Mayor Bowser, and leaders from DC DHCD, DC HFA, and DC DMPED broke ground on its latest project, Capitol Vista in Washington D.C. As part of the District’s RootsToRoofs initiative, this multifamily development will bring 104 additional units of affordable housing to Ward 6 serving residents earning up to 50 percent of the area median income (AMI). Construction is scheduled to begin in October 2018 with completion forecasted for quarter three 2020.
Opportunity Starts at Home is a national multi-sector housing campaign and recently hosted its first Roundtable meeting in Washington, D.C. As a member of the Opportunity Roundtable, HOM was represented at the event by Associate Director of Planning and Programming, Sanam Kalhoro-Escoto. With the goal to meet the rental housing needs of the nation’s low-income populations, the Opportunity Starts at Home campaign raises awareness of how housing stability impacts other sectors and aims to expand the multi-sector network to reach a diverse array of stakeholders. The objective for year one of the Campaign is to create definitive cross-sector engagement to address housing needs. Representatives from 70 multi-sector organizations attended the event and were presented with an overview of the campaign’s mission, goals, short and long-term plans, and policy agenda. Participants then broke into small groups to discuss their own expectations for the Roundtable, to provide detailed feedback to the campaign about its ongoing strategies and tactics, and to brainstorm collaborative opportunities for the future.
Housing on Merit recently participated in the annual Next City Vanguard Conference held in New Orleans. Representing HOM was Executive Director, Jennifer Litwak who joined 40 other urban leaders from around the world as a 2018 Vanguard Fellow. The conference included a three-day series of presentations, workshops and neighborhood tours with the theme “Equity as a Growth Strategy.” Key to the event was the “Next City Big Idea Workshop,” where Vanguard Fellows form groups and use their knowledge and expertise to address a challenge facing the city and work toward a vision of social and economic equity. Litwak and her group were assigned the “Safe & Healthy Neighborhoods” topic and won the “Big Idea” prize after it was evaluated by local experts. Other topics in the workshop included economic development, housing affordability, cultural preservation, transportation and environmental sustainability.
Throughout the year, the San Diego Business Journal hosts a series of high profile events that bring together decision makers and business owners from all industries. These programs are designed to recognize businesses and leaders who positively impact the San Diego County business community. Housing on Merit’s executive director, Jennifer Litwak, is named a finalist for the Journal’s 2018 Most Admired CEO of the Year.
The BMC Dialogue Series, formerly known as the Women in Real Estate Conference, attracts more than 200 real estate professionals (women and men) and highlights important topics facing women in real estate. This year’s program addressed unconscious biases in the workplace, how they shape the workplace, and what we can do about it.
The program opened with Jerrilyn Malana, chief deputy for employment and special advisor at the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office, who set the stage for the unconscious bias phenomenon. Malana was followed by G. Joyce Rowland, senior vice president and chief human resources and administrative officer for Sempra Energy, who discussed her journey with Sempra and how the company is making great strides in the areas of unconscious biases and diversity.
Malana and Rowland then participated in a panel discussion with Tim Durie, senior vice president of organizational development for Newland Real Estate Group, and Jennifer Litwak, executive director of Housing on Merit. The panel explored the topic further. Stath Karras, executive director of the Burnham-Moores Center for Real Estate, was the moderator the panel discussion.
Housing on Merit was a proud co-sponsor of the October 2017 Alternative Housing Solutions Event. This multi-day event explored how accessory dwelling units (ADUs), modular construction and tiny homes can help address San Diego’s homelessness and housing affordability crisis. The event was well attended by elected officials, County leaders and community members, and featured tiny home exhibits open for the public to tour. HOM is eager to expand the dialogue around how innovative housing typologies can help solve the affordable housing crisis.
To learn more about the event, please visit https://tinyhomecentral.net/
National Housing Conference (NHC) is dedicated to helping ensure safe, decent and affordable housing for all in America. Through nonpartisan advocacy, research and communications for the continuum of housing, NHC develops ideas, resources and policy solutions to move housing forward. HOM’s Executive Director serves as a Board of Trustee for NHC, and our Resident Services Coordinator currently chairs the Philanthropy and Service Committee of NHC’s Young Leaders in Affordable Housing.
This research note expands on the Paycheck to Paycheck 2016 annual report and explores the context of spending on housing costs by examining household spending on a variety of items. Households must balance their spending on housing with their spending on other key household needs, such as transportation and healthcare. The lowest income households face the greatest challenges in balancing these competing needs.
Online National Housing Conference Affordable Housing Policy Guide
To coincide with the launch of the new NHC website this fall, the research staff is compiling, revising, and reorganizing information from 3 NHC research website (HousingPolicy.org, Forclosure-Response.org, and InclusivePolicy.org) to create a comprehensive online affordable housing policy guide. This guide will serve as a resource of wide breadth that offers accessible explanations of federal, state, and local affordable housing policies and programs and links to research and other resources for a variety of topics. Currently, existing content from the three websites mentioned is being used to develop the guide, and work will continue in 2017 to fill any gaps in the guide.
This brief explores the lessons learned from the years of federal assistance provided to combat the national foreclosure crisis. With the brief, we hope to preserve the best practices and guide policy decisions in the event of another local, regional, state, or perhaps federal foreclosure crisis. The analysis and recommendations were guided by interviews with staff at the U.S. Department of the Treasury and staff at state Housing Finance Agencies that administer Hardest Hit Funds.
Housing on Merit participates in the San Diego Hunger Advocacy Network, a coalition of non-profits dedicated to the mission of anti-hunger policy and advocacy. In May 2017 the network met with elected officials in Sacramento to gain support for its Legislative Priorities.
To learn more about the Network’s 2017 Legislative priorities, click here.