May 17, 2019
San Diego Housing Commission Initiatives and Partnership Developments Receive National and Local Honors
SAN DIEGO, CA — San Diego Housing Commission (SDHC) initiatives to address the housing affordability crisis in San Diego and increase efficiency in its rental assistance program, as well as the agency’s rehabilitation of properties to extend their affordability, are among the recipients of eight awards or nominations this week, honoring SDHC accomplishments.
“Leadership and support from Mayor Kevin Faulconer, Council President Georgette Gómez and the full City Council, as well as San Diego Housing Commission Chair Stefanie Benvenuto and our entire Board of Commissioners, are essential to the innovative solutions these initiatives represent,” said SDHC President & CEO Richard C. Gentry. “These honors also reflect the importance of collaboration with partners, including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the dedication of Housing Commission staff to provide housing assistance to low-income families in San Diego who need it most.”
In the same week that SDHC received notification of three national awards that will be presented this summer by the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO), SDHC also won a prestigious Ruby Award from the San Diego Housing Federation for the acquisition and rehabilitation of Town & Country Village Apartments.
SDHC’s Path to Success initiative also was honored as a finalist for a Golden Watchdog award from the San Diego County Taxpayers Association, and an SDHC property rehabilitation for seniors at risk of homelessness received two Ruby Award nominations.
NAHRO’s awards program provides national recognition for achievement and innovation, and opportunities to inform the public about “the best in housing and community development.” Awards of Merit will be presented in July to three SDHC initiatives, one of which has also been nominated for a national Award of Excellence:
- SDHC’s Housing Affordability Recommendations
SDHC was one of the first public housing authorities in California to develop a comprehensive blueprint to identify the costs of developing affordable housing and make recommendations on how to lower those costs. SDHC’s report has been recognized and cited by other organizations throughout California. Action occurred on all 11 recommendations in SDHC’s first report, “Addressing the Housing Affordability Crisis: An Action Plan for San Diego.” Among those actions was a follow-up SDHC report about housing production objectives for the City of San Diego, developed in collaboration with City Councilmember Scott Sherman and then-City Councilmember David Alvarez. In February 2018, SDHC published a third report, “Addressing the Housing Affordability Crisis: 2018 Status Report,” summarizing the actions taken on all 11 recommendations in the initial report.
SDHC’s Housing Affordability Recommendations have been nominated for an Award of Excellence. NAHRO awards up to 24 Awards of Excellence nationally each year, with recipients announced during the NAHRO National Conference and Exhibition in the fall.
- Website Redesign
SDHC completed its first comprehensive website update and redesign to www.sdhc.org in close to 10 years, launching its new site on July 2, 2018. With the goal of enhancing customer service, public outreach and transparency, the new website is easier to navigate, more appealing visually, and responsive to different devices. It also includes features to translate content into multiple languages and assist visitors with disabilities. In the first six months, page views increased more than 40 percent, pages per session increased 29 percent, and new users increased 5 percent from the same time period a year earlier.
- Rental Assistance Division Kaizen Business Process Re-engineering
To increase operational efficiencies, reduce operational costs, and improve customer service, SDHC’s Rental Assistance Division re-engineered how it does business. The division underwent a process known as Kaizen, which means “continuous improvement,” to analyze and redesign its workflows. The business process re-engineering was staff-led and resulted in significant efficiencies, such as reducing leasing process timeframes by 68 percent, reducing recertification processing by 25 percent, reducing initial inspections timelines by 71 percent and an overall full-time equivalent (FTE) savings of 12 percent.
SDHC acquisition and rehabilitation of Town & Country Village Apartments in the Mountain View community—in partnership with SDHC’s nonprofit affiliate, Housing Development Partners (HDP), and Chelsea Investment Corporation—received the Ruby Award for “Project of the Year: Rehabilitation” from the San Diego Housing Federation.
This project extended the affordability of 97 rental apartments and converted 46 previously market-rate apartments into affordable rental housing units for low-income families. The rehabilitation of this property also included the construction of a community center, which provides after-school programs and adult education, as well as a computer lab.
SDHC Commissioners Margaret Davis, Johanna Hester, and Kellee Hubbard accepted the award, along with SDHC Real Estate Division staff.
In addition, SDHC’s rehabilitation of New Palace Hotel received two Ruby Award nominations—in the categories of “Project of the Year: Rehabilitation” and “CSH Supportive Housing Award.”
New Palace Hotel provides 79 affordable rental apartments for seniors who experienced homelessness or were at risk of homelessness. Residents of the renovated New Palace, located in Banker’s Hill, have access to a variety of services provided by Serving Seniors, including: accessing healthcare options and retirement benefits, providing legal and entitlement referrals, finding transportation resources, connecting residents to community events, providing medical education and referrals, and one-on-one supportive services as needed.
Ruby Awards honor “excellence in affordable housing and community development, highlighting the accomplishments of people, agencies and developments that work to ensure all San Diegans, regardless of income, have a safe, stable place they can afford to call home.”
Golden Watchdog Awards
SDHC’s Path to Success initiative was honored as a finalist for the San Diego County Taxpayers Association’s Golden Watchdog Award.
Path to Success encourages Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher households to become more financially self-reliant. In Fiscal Year 2018 (July 1, 2017 – June 30, 2018), the average annual income of the approximately 6,300 households identified as Work-Able was 32 percent higher than in Fiscal Year 2013, the last year before Path to Success was implemented.
Through its Path to Success initiative, SDHC has achieved efficiencies and cost savings that the agency has reinvested toward:
- Increasing the payment standards that determine the amount of rental assistance a household receives;
- Supporting the creation and implementation of workforce programs at the SDHC Achievement Academy, which provides opportunities for families to become more financially self-reliant; and
- Developing and preserving affordable rental housing in the City of San Diego.
The Golden Watchdog Awards recognize “efficient use of taxpayer dollars.”
Ruby Awards and Golden Watchdog Awards were presented at separate ceremonies Thursday night, May 16.
For more information about SDHC, visit www.sdhc.org
Vice President of Communications
San Diego Housing Commission