June 20, 2019


San Diego County Grand Jury Commends the San Diego Housing Commission Achievement Academy for Programs ‘to Improve the Lives of Clients’



SAN DIEGO, CA – The San Diego Housing Commission (SDHC) Achievement Academy is an example of an agency “performing in an outstanding manner or providing noteworthy community services,” according to a San Diego County Grand Jury report released today.

“The SDHC Achievement Academy is essential to our mission to provide opportunities for the families we serve to improve their quality of life. I thank the Grand Jury for its thorough review of the SDHC Achievement Academy and this well-deserved recognition of its success in helping families become more financially self-reliant,” SDHC President & CEO Richard C. Gentry said.

The SDHC Achievement Academy is a learning and resource center and computer lab located at SDHC’s headquarters in Downtown San Diego. It is available at no cost to families that receive federal rental assistance from SDHC or who live in public housing. The SDHC Achievement Academy’s programs emphasize career planning, job skills, and personal financial education.

In addition, SDHC Achievement Academy staff, known as Workforce Readiness Specialists, work with families on customized plans for educational and/or employment objectives.

“The Achievement Academy, in conjunction with its partner agencies, operates a robust menu of innovative training and educational programs designed to improve the lives of clients while simultaneously reducing their dependence on public aid. For this service, the Grand Jury commends the Achievement Academy of the San Diego Housing Commission,” the Grand Jury report states.

Since it opened in 2010, the SDHC Achievement Academy has served more than 5,600 individuals, including helping more than 1,000 people secure jobs. In addition, in that time, the average hourly wage of participants in SDHC Achievement Academy programs has increased 38.8 percent – from $9.50 to $13.19.

“Too often we hear that recipients of public benefits are content to continue to accept whatever benefits are available and are not motivated to achieve self-sufficiency or to improve their lives. However, the tenants receiving rental assistance from the City of San Diego Housing Commission (Commission) are proving that this notion is not always correct,” the Grand Jury report states.

SDHC created the SDHC Achievement Academy with the flexibility provided by SDHC’s designation as a “Moving to Work” (MTW) agency. SDHC is one of only 39 public housing authorities, out of approximately 3,400 nationwide, to receive an MTW designation from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). As an MTW agency, SDHC has the flexibility to implement a variety of innovative, cost-effective approaches to provide housing assistance in the City of San Diego.

SDHC Achievement Academy programs include:

Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS): A voluntary, two-year program that includes job training, career planning, and financial literacy education, such as budgeting, saving, and establishing good credit. Participants may earn up to $10,000 in an interest-bearing escrow account as they achieve educational and employment-related goals. When they graduate from FSS, participants may use these funds as they wish. To graduate, FSS program participants must achieve all of the goals in their career plan, no longer receive government cash assistance, and work at least 32 hours a week.

Power of One: A yearlong program specifically designed for single parents who receive federal rental assistance and have children ages 16 and younger. Participants receive access to career and financial planning resources and workshops. This program also provides support such as matched savings, back-to-school supplies, family-oriented holiday celebrations, flexible class schedules, and one-on-one case support.

2Gen San Diego: A partnership between SDHC, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and several private sector and nonprofit organizations, which applies a multigenerational approach to address the cycle of poverty among low-income families with children. Funded by a $780,000 three-year grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, 2Gen San Diego serves 70 families with low income who receive rental assistance from SDHC and have young children up to age 8. Participating families reside in the City Heights neighborhood of the City of San Diego. With housing stability as a platform, 2Gen San Diego focuses on providing opportunities in four key areas: financial stability, health & wellness, education & employment, and social capital.

San Diego EnVision Center: A partnership among SDHC, the City of San Diego, the San Diego Workforce Partnership and HUD to promote financial self-reliance among households with low income. The San Diego EnVision Center partners are continuing to develop programs that serve residents in areas such as financial education, life skills, education and career planning, and health and wellness.

Reading for Success: A program to encourage reading among children in families with low income. Approximately 1,500 children’s books have been donated to the SDHC Achievement Academy Children’s Library, a lending library for children living in households that receive federal rental assistance or reside in public housing. SDHC also established a partnership with the San Diego Public Library and created a summer reading program with incentives, provided by the library, for rental assistance and public housing families. The SDHC Achievement Academy is also participating in the national Campaign for Grade-Level Reading.

For more information about SDHC, visit www.sdhc.org.

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Media Contact: 

Scott Marshall
Vice President of Communications
San Diego Housing Commission
619-578-7138 | [email protected]

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