December 21, 2022 -- For the past four years, U.S. military veteran Morris Lester didn’t have a consistent place to call home, and being in his seventies put him in a particularly vulnerable situation. This fall, HumanGood was thrilled to welcome Morris to his new apartment home at Mountain Vistas I through the organization’s Homeless Preference Program. Morris is the first resident who moved in from the program, and during his first week moving into Mountain Vistas I, he enjoyed an end-of-summer community barbeque and met fellow residents of his new community.
Located in Redding, California, Mountain Vistas I is one of 10 HumanGood affordable housing communities in California that accept recipients of the program. There are also 37 units across HumanGood’s Philadelphia communities that have an older adult homeless preference. To participate, each HumanGood community applies to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) requesting a number of units to be reserved for unhoused seniors. The size and location of each community are factored into the final number of participating units. HUD provides a criteria list of what constitutes a homeless older adult.
The program was created by HumanGood team members in a number of departments including Operations, Resident Services, Compliance, and Development with the goal of reducing homelessness among seniors. Together, the team developed a new role of Program Manager of Homeless Services assumed by Tameka Brown. Tameka focuses her efforts on partnerships with HUD, SCAN Independence at Home, Behavioral Health Training Education Network, Philadelphia Office of Supportive Housing, and more, to assist with applicant referrals, case management services, and team member training. “Providing housing for homeless seniors is a labor of love for HumanGood,” Brown said. “The passion toward this mission is exactly what our organization is about.”
According to a 2019 article from The Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies, there has been a growing trend in older adult homelessness across the country. Homelessness is due to deep economic inequalities and systemic racism, stagnation of wages and rent increases, criminal history, and lack of compassion. Helping to spearhead the Homeless Preference Program at HumanGood is Resident Services Vice President Linda Coleman. “Many may not realize, but homelessness is considered illegal across the United States. As cities and states work toward decriminalizing it, the participation of communities that can allot units as homeless-preferred is very impactful,” she said.
In addition to the 100+ affordable housing communities operated by HumanGood, Linda plans to significantly increase the number of homeless-preferred units in 2023. “Stories like Morris’ are incredibly inspiring and we plan to position HumanGood as a leading provider for homeless seniors in the years to come.”