The National Association of Local Housing Finance Agencies (NALHFA) honored the Hillsborough County Housing Finance Authority (HFA) with the Award of Excellence during the annual NALHFA conference held in Tampa on May 4. The NALHFA Award of Excellence is the most prestigious national award in the local affordable housing finance community. The award recognizes the agency for its efforts to help homeless residents move to permanent housing.
The NALHFA honored nine innovative programs across the country that have come up with creative ways to deal with the shortage of affordable housing. The HFA of Hillsborough County was recognized for its Up and Out Program that provides rental assistance to families and elderly people who have been homeless.
Mark Hendrickson said, “The Up and Out Program offers a hand up to help formerly homeless persons move back into the workforce and stable permanent housing. With a limited investment of funds, families transition to a position where they no longer need assistance.”
The aim of the program is to fill the gap where formerly homeless families often lose government assistance as they enter the workforce. This loss of assistance often leads to a cycle where a family is homeless, then has shelter and then becomes homeless again.
About 10 years ago, the HFA of Hillsborough County Board of Directors began investing some of its available funds in community programs. It wanted to find a way to really make a difference. Homeless providers were asked to identify who could benefit from limited HFA funding. It turned out the answer was families that had moved from homelessness to temporary housing and were now employed and ready to move back into the conventional rental market, who often fell through the cracks of funding. They needed rental assistance to help them move up and out of the homeless system back to employment and eventually pay all their rent themselves.
HFA has built partnerships with three faith-based homeless service organizations. The HFA provides rental assistance and case management through Metropolitan Ministries (which focuses on families), the Catholic Conference (which focuses on the elderly) and the Salvation Army (which focuses on single adults).
This is a countywide program. Since its inception, 227 families — a total of 576 people (including 325 children and 42 seniors) — have been helped. The average income of families in the program has been less than a third of the area median income.
For more information, please visit https://flhousing.org/.