Housing Official Wins NAHRO's Highest Honor

Press Release

Washington, D.C., Oct. 16, 2015 – Robert Pearson, Executive Director of the Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara (Calif.), was named the 2015 recipient of the prestigious M. Justin Herman Memorial Award, the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials' (NAHRO) highest honor, at the NAHRO National Conference in Los Angeles, Calif.

"Robert has distinguished himself as an active, civic-minded public servant, an innovator who finds creative ways to solve community-wide complex issues and a visionary," said Saul Ramirez, Jr., NAHRO Chief Executive Officer. "As a leader in the housing and community development field, he has redefined the role of housing authority, moving it from the narrow concept, to the broader vision of providing specialized resident services."

For more than three decades, Pearson has worked with the Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara. Under his leadership, the agency has generated more than 3,200 units of critically-needed, low-rent housing assistance to the community. He has met challenges, such as the development of California’s first dedicated end-of-life care for AIDS patients; the development of transitional housing facility for the chronically homeless; a low-income housing development for seniors with built-in comprehensive services; the development of a workforce housing complex that includes 15 units for emancipated foster youth; the development of Santa Barbara’s first permanent, year-round shelter and day center for homeless individuals and the formation of a 501(c) 3 non-profit whose purpose is providing housing and supportive services for low-income seniors.

The award is given annually to a NAHRO member who has made outstanding contributions to the quality of life through service in the field of housing or community development.  Established in 1975, the award recognizes the standard of excellence M. Justin Herman brought to the San Francisco Housing Authority and housing and community development at large.


NAHRO, established in 1933, is a membership organization of 20,000 housing and community development agencies and professionals throughout the United States whose mission is to create affordable housing and safe, viable communities that enhance the quality of life for all Americans, especially those of low- and moderate-income. NAHRO's membership administers more than 3 million housing units for 7.6 million people.