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, was recently presented the 2018 Woman of Influence award by the Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) Network. The CREW Network has been empowering women since 1989 and has become one of the premier business networking organizations within the commercial real estate industry. Housing on Merit has been involved with the CREW Network to further its impact in the affordable housing marketplace and expand its nationwide exposure. The global network of more than 11,000 allows members to develop business contacts and assist each other to succeed professionally. The CREW Network now reaches over 70 major markets.
The Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) Network Board of Directors has appointed Housing on Merit’s Executive Director, Jennifer Litwak, to serve on CREW’s Member Education Committee, which is responsible for leading the selection of high-quality programs for the 2019 CREW Network Convention and Marketplace. The Committee will head the search for innovative industry programs and exceptional professional development training opportunities for CREW members and chapter leaders. Member education and professional development are two of the high-priority cornerstones of CREW Network’s strategic plan and are critical to the success of its chapters and members.
The San Diego Business Journal (SDBJ) recently nominated Housing on Merit’s Executive Director, Jennifer Litwak, for the 2018 Business Women of the Year award. The annual event is SDBJ’s largest annual reception and awards program, honoring successful women business leaders who have made significant impacts in their industries. The event will include a keynote address from the former Chief of Police for the City of San Diego, Shelley Zimmerman, and a Lifetime Achievement Award presentation for Nyda Jones-Church, President and COO of Sotheby’s International Realty. The event will be held at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront on December 13.
For over 40 years the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) has advocated for changing the business culture and providing women leaders more opportunities in the economic, social and political environments. Recently, the national organization named Housing on Merit’s Executive Director, Jennifer Litwak, as a finalist for Woman Business Owner of the Year and Women’s Advocate of the Year for the 2018 Bravo! Awards. Ms. Litwak joined a list of 10 women entrepreneurs chosen from all industries to recognize their significant contributions and accomplishments made within their professions.
San Diego is one of the most expensive cities to live in the country and like many large cities faces a critical shortage of affordable housing. On November 15 Bisnow held the State of San Diego Multifamily networking event to bring together stakeholders to discuss innovative solutions to the escalating housing shortage. The local event covered topics on investment, development, design trends and the future of the Costa–Hawkins Rental Housing Act. Housing on Merit’s Executive Director, Jennifer Litwak, was invited to speak about investment activity in the San Diego multifamily market. Multifamily is a key asset class that attracts large institutional investors, real estate investment trusts (REITS) and private family-owned shops, all wanting a part of this growing market.
Housing on Merit is dedicated to reducing the number of women veterans experiencing homelessness. As a result of our efforts, the USS Midway Foundation awarded HOM with the Pillars of Freedom Grant during a ceremony held on the deck of the USS Midway in San Diego on November 8. The USS Midway Foundation was developed to model the mission of the USS Midway Museum and assist service organizations supporting current military, veterans and first responders. The Pillars of Freedom Grant will be used to help fund HOM’s Awards of Merit for Housing Assistance program, which provides funds to women veterans facing homelessness in order to remove barriers to permanent housing.
Housing on Merit is continually working to gain knowledge on how to best address the ongoing challenges of housing supply and affordability. Recently, HOM attended Innovate Housing, an event administered by the Terner Center for Housing Innovation at UC Berkeley and Fannie Mae, held in San Francisco on November 8. The networking event brought together various entities attracted to the affordable housing development industry including leading innovators, journalists, policymakers, builders, designers and investors. Topics included tackling the high cost of new housing construction, innovative techniques to address increased density in urban areas and how technology could revolutionize real estate finance.
Housing on Merit’s Executive Director, Jennifer Litwak, was honored to speak at the 2018 National Development Finance Summit, which took place in Dallas, Texas, from November 7-9. The event invited 75 industry leaders from 20 different states and Washington, D.C., to network and collaborate on best practices and solutions in development finance. The National Summit is administered by the Council of Development Finance Agencies and provides individualized learning for both public and private sector participants from across the country. Ms. Litwak gave presentations on housing investment tax credits, and financing programs sponsored by state and local governments.
Housing on Merit recently received the Generosity Offer from the First Unitarian Universalist Church of San Diego. The church supports local organizations making an impact in their communities and designates a portion of their monthly offerings to one organization each month. The donation will be applied to HOM’s Awards of Merit for Housing Assistance program, which assists women veterans in San Diego transition from homelessness to permanent housing. The monetary gift will allow HOM to reach its goal of housing twice the number of women veterans in 2019 compared to previous years.
Housing on Merit is always in search of opportunities to network and collaborate with affordable housing experts. Recently, HOM’s Executive Director Jennifer Litwak attended City First Foundation’s 2018 Affordable Housing Impact Forum in Washington, D.C., on October 24. The workshop-style event was focused on solutions to better serve distressed neighborhoods through sustainable and responsible community development. Topics discussed included technical information in nonprofit development, policy development and government. Breakout sessions targeted private finance, Community Land Trusts and optimizing Opportunity Zones, which focus on providing sustainable economic development in low- to moderate-income neighborhoods.
The Coalition for Nonprofit Housing & Economic Development (CNHED) supports and advocates for nonprofit housing and economic development in Washington, D.C. As a member, Housing on Merit recently participated in the agency’s Community Development Week from October 15-19. Topics addressed through panel discussions and roundtables included the role of affordable housing in intergenerational communities, and how the current development trends are impacting vulnerable communities. Subjects also included ways to better leverage public and private financing for affordable housing. A highlight of this event was the annual “A Community of Leaders” special gathering, which acknowledged the activities and impact of member organizations like HOM.