Introducing Housing on Merit’s Virtual Resident Services
Housing on Merit is pleased to announce the May launch of our Virtual Resident Services program, designed to provide important support services to residents in our communities during these unprecedented times that for safety reasons hamper in-person resident services. Virtual Resident Services allow our Resident Services Coordinators (RSCs) to provide residents with academic tutoring, assistance with arts and crafts projects, and companionship via phone and video conferencing. Resident feedback has been overwhelmingly positive thus far, with many sharing that before the launch of our Virtual Resident Services they had been feeling isolated and disconnected due to the state-wide stay-at-home order. Parents and their children have expressed gratitude for our Virtual Homework Help program, which has provided assistance to youth as they navigate the challenges of online schooling.
In addition, Housing on Merit distributed to residents resource lists of local and national organizations that offer rental payment relief, assistance with utility and credit card bills, free access to Wi-Fi, remote learning services, and more. In addition, we are working with community partners to soon provide free hot meal services to residents at our San Diego communities and an on-site food truck at one of our Washington D.C. properties. Housing on Merit understands the importance of adapting our programming to bridge the gap in services and resources available to residents during these unprecedented times, and we will continue to work diligently to develop new resident services programming and partner with community organizations to address the needs of residents in our communities.3
Housing on Merit’s Response to COVID-19
During these unprecedented times, Housing on Merit maintains our commitment to developing and preserving affordable housing communities where residents can access support services and growth opportunities to maintain safe, stable housing. We have made thoughtful decisions to help ensure our staff are protected, and our partners and residents feel supported. In the coming weeks, we will expand our resident services programming to include virtual programming to keep residents engaged and to ensure we are doing our best to address their needs.
We will continue to closely monitor CDC and other government guidelines related to COVID-19, and make any adjustments necessary to carry on with our important work. There has never been a better time to give to Housing on Merit. In accordance with the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, donors can make a charitable contribution and deduct the full amount up to their Adjusted Gross Income. Your donations go a long way in ensuring that Housing on Merit continues to create bridges to permanent affordable housing for vulnerable populations. You can make a donation here.
MANA de San Diego Networking Breakfast
Housing on Merit’s Program and Planning Coordinator, Vivian Preciado, attended MANA de San Diego 2020 Networking Breakfast at the Lafayette Hotel on February 28th. The topic for this breakfast meeting was”Women’s Worth: Reclaiming Our Divinity & Our Destiny” and brought together Latina leaders from across San Diego. The keynote speaker was Starla Lewis, Professor Emeritus and CEO of Celebration of Everlasting Life and Love (C.E.L.L.) consulting. Lewis has been a college professor of African-American studies for the past 39 years, and her work as a life coach teaching people to gain mastery over their lives. Ms. Lewis describes her presentation style as “edu-taining,” and her goal is to provide her audience with meaningful learning experiences. ISHE, a creative visionary and author, and YahYah, an eighteen-year-old creative visionary, were also fellow speakers at the breakfast. The speakers make up three generations of leaders in women empowerment with Ms. Lewis, her daughter ISHE, and grandaughter YahYah. They will also be speaking at San Diego Women’s Week!
HOM is One of 4,700 Organizations to Support the Housing is Infrastructure Act
Housing on Merit is one of the 4,700 organizations that have signed a letter urging Congress to include extensive investments in affordable homes. The House Financial Services Committee is set to vote on “The Housing Is Infrastructure Act“ Tuesday, February 25th. This bill will make robust investments in the national Housing Trust Fund (HTF) and public housing. The National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) is a strong proponent for this act because this infrastructure package enacted by Congress increases and preserves the supply of affordable homes for people with the lowest incomes. HOM is proud to sign the letter and support the NLIHC to secure an infrastructure package that addresses housing challenges faced by extremely low-income families.
HOM Partners with SDSU Delivering Art Camp for Rio Vista’s Youth
Throughout quarter two, Housing on Merit provided over 570 hours of after-school programming across our communities.
Volunteers from San Diego State University’s College of Education developed a month-long Art Camp for youth at Rio Vista Apartments in San Diego, California Camp participants were encouraged to explore different art mediums such as paint, collage, and sculpture. They then created their own masterpieces for the community art show, held at the Learning Center. The Art Camp was a success and garnered interest from residents of all ages. All participants wrote thank-you letters to the camp volunteers to express their appreciation for being able to participate in the Art Camp.
Navigating Opportunity Zones for Affordable Housing
Housing on Merit’s Housing Innovation Coordinator, Charly Ligety, attended the Navigating Opportunity Zones seminar in Los Angeles on June 12. “Opportunity Zone” is a designation created by the Tax Cuts and Job Act of 2017 to encourage economic development and job creation in distressed communities across the nation. Over the last year homeless rates have risen 12% in Los Angeles County and 16% in the City of Los Angeles, highlighting the urgent need for new affordable housing development. The event, hosted by the Office of Mayor Eric Garcetti and Enterprise Community Partners, was designed to provide nonprofit organizations, public agencies, elected officials and developers with a greater understanding about how to best utilize tax incentives without exacerbating displacement and gentrification, how to identify Opportunity Zones in Los Angeles County, and best practices in affordable housing, community and economic development. The event also included a Q&A with panelists Lori Chatman, Senior Vice President of Enterprise Community Investment, Inc. and President of Enterprise Community Loan Fund, Inc.; Ron Frierson, Director of Economic Policy, Mayor’s Office of Economic Development; and Ben Winter, Chief Housing Officer, Office of Mayor Eric Garcetti.
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