The Hampton Roads Housing Consortium (HRHC) recently held its 13th Annual Housing Awards Ceremony at the Virginia Beach Convention Center on October 10th. The four awards recognize individuals and organizations that have contributed to improving housing conditions for the region. The HRPDC provides staffing support to the HRHC.
This year's theme was "For the Love of our Region" and the Ceremony’s keynote address from national expert and author, Peter Kageyama. Peter's book was recognized in 2012, as a Top 10 book in urban planning, design and development by Planetizen.
"I am so pleased about this year's award honorees," said HRHC Chair, Brett Sierra. “The awardees represented a wide-range of services and dedication to affordable housing for all of Hampton Roads. The inherent compassion and commitment represented in their programs and performances epitomize the mission and purpose of the HRHC.
This year’s awards and honorees were:
HRHC Housing Warrior
Director of Community Services
Community Alternatives Management Group, Inc.
As the Outreach Program Coordinator of the Community Alternatives Management Group (CAMG) Inc., Linda Silva is an equal housing opportunity champion that devotes her time and passion educating her clients on their Fair Housing Rights, setting expectations of increased income, seeking services and encouraging self-determination. She works diligently with the supportive housing staff to create solutions to difficult cases and aid in locating housing for those ready for permanent housing so others can enter into the CAMG 34 program.
HRHC Housing Partner-Special Project Award
Hampton-Newport News Community Services Board- KEYS Project
The KEYS Project is a partnership between DBHDS and the Hampton Newport News Community Services Board (HNNCSB) providing services to those in need on the Peninsula. The goal of the KEYS Project is to provide permanent supportive housing to individuals exiting Eastern State Hospital with serious mental illnesses and severe housing barriers. These barriers included multiple hospitalizations and institutionalizations, criminal histories due to their disabilities, extensive homelessness and frequent evictions.
With a housing first approach, KEYS set out to expedite the discharge process from Eastern State Hospital by providing permanent housing opportunities at discharge. Of the 91 individuals directly discharged from Eastern State Hospital to permanent supportive housing since November 2018, 94% have maintained stable housing, state hospital utilization rates were dramatically decreased with a state hospital cost savings of approximately $2.9 million.
HRHC Lifetime Achievement Award
Karen Wilds, Executive Director
Newport News Redevelopment & Housing Authority
Karen Wilds has been with the Newport News Redevelopment & Housing Authority (NNRHA) since 1985. During her 30-year tenure, Karen has led the agency’s mission of creating affordable housing, viable neighborhoods, and opportunities for self-sufficiency that enhance the quality of life for citizens of Newport News. Before she was at the Newport News RHA, she worked for Chesapeake Redevelopment and Housing Authority as a grant writer and community development officer.
During her long tenure with NNRHA, she has been responsible for numerous revitalization and neighborhood development initiatives mostly focused on the Southeast community of Newport News. She continues to strive to make Newport News the best place to live. Due in large part to her efforts, Newport News was recently awarded the HUD CHOICE Neighborhood Initiative (CNI). Choice Neighborhoods is focused on the housing of the area, the people in those areas, and the neighborhood.
Ms. Wilds is a large proponent of partnerships and has worked closely with the City of Newport News, non-profits, contractors, developers and bankers to meet the RHA goals and further the mission.
HRHC Across the Region Service Award
The Urban League of Hampton Roads, Inc.
Gilbert Bland, President /CEO
Stephen Williams, Vice President
Since 1978 the Urban League of Hampton Roads, Inc. (ULHR) has strived to enable African Americans and others to secure economic self-reliance, parity and power and civil rights. The ULHR implements its mission by providing services and programs in education, employment, health, and housing to Hampton Roads communities through direct services, advocacy, research, policy analysis, community mobilization, and collaboration throughout communities.
One of the programs offered by ULHR is a comprehensive housing counseling program. This program is recognized as a US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Approved Counseling Agency. Through these services they educate and empower individuals and families seeking to improve their housing options within the Hampton Roads area. The ULHR provides housing and credit counseling while also providing guidance to future homeowners so they understand the entire home buying process. They help existing homeowners address their needs and navigate the many options regarding refinancing or resolving mortgage delinquency through their Foreclosure Prevention services. And to top it off ULHR assists the homeless and renters in distress to help them secure permanent, safe and affordable housing.