Dayton Metropolitan Housing Authority
NMA is proud to announce Dayton Metropolitan Housing Authority as the 2008 winner of the Pioneer in Housing Award.
A Simple Philosophy
The main objective of the Dayton Metropolitan Housing Authority (DMHA) River Commons project was to rehabilitate an existing DMHA building to provide public housing to low to moderate income residents of Montgomery County, as well as creating permanent supportive housing for at least 50 chronically homeless people.
Chronically homeless people are those who have continuously lived on the streets for at least a year, or have been homeless at least four times in the past three years. In 2004, more than 6,000 people in the Dayton area were identified as homeless, about 200 of which are considered chronically homeless.
DMHA’s philosophy was simple – if you give people access to decent, safe, affordable housing and on-site supportive services, then many will choose to do things to keep their home and become contributing members of society.
“Out of the Box” Thinking
DMHA Executive Director Gregory D. Johnson had the idea to use an existing DMHA building slated for demolition, change its appearance and name, and create the supportive housing system it needed.
Working closely as a team, DMHA staff was able to:
- Develop a plan to see if the idea was feasible, which included looking at mechanical issues and evaluating needed building improvements
- Reach out and forge key partnerships with Montgomery County, the City of Dayton, The Other Place (a homeless out reach group), and Goodwill
- Establish a “Good Neighbor Agreement” with surrounding priority boards
- Begin construction on the project in June 2007, which included extensive plumbing, air conditioning, kitchen updating, a new hallway entry area, creation of office space, and interior and exterior aesthetic improvements
- In three months, complete the project by Sept. 3, 2007, with a grand opening the next day
Setting an Industry Example for Compassion
With an initial budget of $906,000, the 100-unit building that was once scheduled to be demolished because of its high cost for renovation was not only saved but improved and able to provide housing to existing DMHA participants and new ones.
At the grand opening, 61 previously chronic homeless people moved into their new homes. River Commons is the first permanent housing project under Dayton’s 10-year plan to end chronic homelessness and reduce overall homelessness.
Dayton City Manager Rashad M. Young said the DMHA project “is a strong example of how intergovernmental cooperation can work to help solve a global problem. This project has been the first success in combating chronic homelessness in (our) community.”
River Commons Delivers Results
River Commons features 24-hour security, an on-site program manager, two case workers, desk attendants/engagements specialists, a “jobs first” employment program, various supportive services, monthly life skills education classes, and social development and enrichment opportunities.
Tracking from September 2007 through March 2008 revealed 71% of the tenants that participated in employment support services became employed – surpassing the HUD benchmark goal of 18% within 12 months. Additionally, 98% of previously homeless tenants remained housed at River Commons for seven months or longer – also surpassing the HUD benchmark goal of 70%.
DMHA is a Pioneer in Housing
Dayton Metropolitan Housing Authority clearly went above and beyond community partnership into multi disciplinary and creative community collaboration.
DMHA Executive Director Mr. Johnson wrote that the DMHA “takes pride in being a(n)…advocate on behalf of our clients, on community issues and services that affect their ability to secure and maintain housing, while facing the many ongoing challenges this industry presents.”
“As an agency, we will continue to ‘look outside the box’ now, and in the future, to ensure that our residents receive decent, safe, affordable housing.”