HACF Recognized With National Awards

Freeport, Il – The Housing Authority of the City of Freeport [HACF] has recently been recognized by the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO) with four Awards of Merit and by the Housing Authority Insurance Group (HAIG) with Honorable Mention for a Risk Management Award.

The NAHRO Agency Awards Program was created to give national recognition to the achievement and innovation of NAHRO agency/organizational members throughout the country; to provide additional opportunities to inform the public of the best in housing and community development; and to create a resource bank of information on significant, innovative activities performed by housing and redevelopment agencies and community development departments.   The program must have produced tangible results, i.e. cost savings, enhanced productivity, improved client services, better coordination of services with others; creative financing.  The program must have an innovative approach creating and using techniques and procedures that represent new and creative practices in implementing programs and resolving problems among agencies of similar size. Award categories include Program Innovation in Affordable Housing, Community Revitalization, Resident and Client Services, Administrative Innovation, and Project Design. Successful programs typically accomplish one of the following:

o    Offer a new or expanded service; fill gaps in existing services; or tap new revenue sources.

o    Improve the administration or enhance the cost efficiency of an existing program.

o    Upgrade the working conditions of employees.

o    Provide information on agency/organization programs to the community to enhance their support.

o    Promote intergovernmental cooperation and coordination of services.

o    Promote public/private partnerships to provide new or improved services or programs.

o    Deals with community planning and redevelopment in a holistic manner considering use of land, transportation, housing, employment, community resources, etc.

The four Awards of Merit honored the following HACF programs and services:

o   Those People –  Those People was recognized for program innovation and has also been nominated for a NAHRO National Award of Excellence. The initiative of “Those People” was created not specific for housing residents but rather empowers all individuals who desire to overcome life’s hardships and it provides a platform to share their stories to help break negative stereotypes surrounding impoverished families.  It is when a personal story is shared that another person reading it has the possibility to relate and connect with that person and to be empowered to succeed and obtain self-sufficiency knowing someone else has made it out of the shared hardship. An address should never determine someone’s success. People are people.

o   Conversations Over Pizza (COP) Program – Conversations Over Pizza (C.O.P.) recognized by this award for program innovation, is a program designed to build healthy relationships between the cops and youth and families in the community by starting with conversation. The Program is an informal meeting time in a community facility for police officers and community members to sit around tables, enjoy pizza, and discuss concerns with possible solutions and action plans.  These conversations are building relationships, increasing understanding, and improving communication that can ultimately save lives. With the negative press throughout the country on police, it is also important to highlight the police who are doing their job to keep their communities safe.

o   Teen WDI – This Award recognizes youth programming. The Teen Workforce Development Institute (WDI) was created to address undesired behavior issues in today’s youth and teach vital soft skills that can help professionally in developing a career and personally in securing social support.   It is a known fact that just good school grades do not land youth/graduates a job; successful job candidates have strong soft skills.  This program was implemented in Summer 2015 which was 36 hours, 12 class days of three hours each.  In working with the youth, soft skills are taught and it is expected for youth to implement the skills for noticeable improvement.  This program developed out of the Workforce Development Institute for adults that covers soft skills of positive attitude and behavior, adaptability, responsibility, professionalism, problem-solving, communication, and teamwork.

o   Making Technology Work for You – This Award highlights administrative innovation that improves the efficiency or effectiveness of administrative operations or the general functioning of the agency.  Public housing residents must complete and submit a form for documentation purposes for many reasons, such as if they want to move out or have a change of information.  HACF Staff use forms routinely also for inspections, rent calculation and more.  HACF developed a more efficient way for those who need the forms to have them accessible at any time.  Using online forms for residents and staff to complete and submit has increased necessary documentation reporting, reduced staff time to track down information because more data is being reported, and supports HACF’s goal to go paperless.

In addition to the NAHRO Awards, the HAI Group recognizes its’ members annually with Risk Management Awards.  There are several awards that focuses on various aspects of safety at the public housing agencies.  Awards include the Risk Champion of the Year, Resident Safety Award, Employee Safety Award, Best Use of Grant Program/RAMP Dividend, and Collaboration with Local/Community Organization.

The HAI Group Risk Management Award application was for the Collaboration with Local/Community Organization, which is for public housing authorities partnering with a local or community organization to work with employees or residents.   The Award highlighted the Conversations Over Pizza (COP) Program.  The application explained how the program relates to health, safety and wellness of residents and the community, as well as the strong partnership with the Freeport Police Department and the proven results of the COP Program thus far.  HAI Group selected the Housing Authority of the City of Freeport to receive Honorable Mention for the 2016 Risk Management Awards for the Conversations Over Pizza (COP) Program.

Anyone with questions or to further discuss these awards, please contact Larry Williams, FHA CEO/Chief Executive Officer, at 815-232-4171 Ext 1015.

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