Journal of Housing & Community Development

NAHRO Honors Award Winning Agencies

August 17, 2022
by Sarah Christiansen

Our Awards of Excellence winners are chosen by national juries and honored at the annual National Conference and Exhibition. They represent the very best in innovative programs in assisted housing and community development. Below, we would like to spotlight three programs which have received this award and showcase their impact on local communities.

Remote Learning Centers

The Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA) won an Award of Excellence for Resident and Client Services for administering a remote learning center program to assist people during the COVID-19 pandemic.  . When the global health crisis brought the entire city of Philadelphia to a halt. Schools shut their doors and forced education online. However, many children from lower-income families did not make the transition to virtual classes because of the lack of available affordable internet. To help bridge the digital divide, PHA partnered with the School District of Philadelphia, the Boys and Girls Club, and the City of Philadelphia to establish safe and secure remote learning centers for these students..

The 10 remote learning centers provided a familiar place where students would have access to reliable high-speed internet and, at some locations, lab monitors to help with computer issues or other challenges. PHA also tracked down students to give them their free Chromebooks and hotspots from the school district.

Once the free laptops had been distributed to students in need, school district officials realized  several students from lower-income neighborhoods didn’t know how to use them. In response, most of the learning centers provided 4-hour Chromebook Training program facilitated by the school district. This award-winning project helped students continue their educations during a challenging time for young people who transitioned to a virtual format for the majority of the pandemic.

2020 Human Resources Accomplishments “2020 Seeing Things in a New Light – Cultural Diversity”

The Houston Housing Authority (HHA) won an Award of Excellence for Administrative for launching a program within its Human Resources department aimed at “seeing things in a new light and embracing culture diversity.”

In the beginning of 2020, the HHA focused their efforts on increasing agency morale by celebrating the different cultures within the agency. Understanding the importance of diversity, the HR department selected the theme “2020 Vision – Seeing Things in a New Light: Culture Diversity”. The department planned events for employees to celebrate the diversity of cultures present within HHA.

Despite the health crisis, the HR department was motivated to continue holding events to focus on the social injustice in the country. . Due to their grand efforts to boost morale, the human resources survey was filled with favorable comments regarding the events scheduled for the 2020 calendar year. Employees have shared their appreciation for the department’s efforts to provide events and send care packages during these challenging times.

The Big Blue Bike Barn

The Newport Housing Authority won an Award of Excellence for Resident Client Services for the Big Blue Bike Barn program. The program is combined result of working with community residents and partners and the housing authority.  

The program started with the Newport Housing Authority partnering with a local organization, Bike Newport. Together the two organizations worked to create a new space for a variety of healthy activities for the families of Newport’s North End neighborhoods. This community is one that has a poverty rate almost three times the rate than the rest of the city. Bike Newport was operating a popular “Bike Library” where housing authority youth and other children could borrow bikes and ride around the neighborhood. The Bike Library was housed in a dilapidated old shipping container in a parking lot, sited between two dumpsters, with no exterior identifying features. Yet, whenever the doors of the Bike Library opened, the bikes and tools and obstacle courses spilled out, and the neighborhood swarmed with happy two-wheeling kids.

The need to upgrade was palpable. Newport Housing Authority and Bike Newport committed themselves to working together to serve the children and families of Newport’s North End community—and beyond. Community members wanted bicycles in their lives, as long as three needs were addressed, the first being equipment. Secondly, they wanted education, instruction on how to ride safely.. Lastly, they wanted places to ride close to home in order to build their confidence before venturing farther away. These three requirements, which applied to both adult residents and their children, align with Bike Newport’s mission and programs – addressing community, education and advocacy. They also align with the housing authority’s mission of opportunity-rich neighborhood revitalization and improved quality of life for residents. With new and existing partner assistance, the project was poised to help meet these requirements, and get more people on bikes.

It is an honor for NAHRO to recognize these programs and share the wealth of positivity being brought to so many communities. We are proud of our members and the continued work they do to help maintain and strengthen community development and involvement.

More Articles in this Issue

key Member Content

July/August 2022

Abby Strong knew from a young age she wanted to help others. Growing up in the small…