HUD’s mission statement is to “create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and make quality affordable homes a reality for all”. It is this mission combined with their vision to improve lives and strengthen communities that is the backbone of everything they, and we do, as PHAs.
All our PHAs have a responsibility to reflect this mission and vision in all our operations, from our administrative plan to how we execute each policy and procedure. When we use HUD’s mission statement as a compass to advance our agencies, we ensure that we are building on a solid foundation.
It is this stability that keeps us focused during times of uncertainty. It gives us the right perspective during times of chaos and frustration. And it gives us a worthy goal to always be working toward.
That goal? To become strong housing agencies who embody this mission and vision.
Sounds simple enough, right? But, in everyday life, the ability to translate that idea into practical and useful information can elude us.
So… let’s explore a few ways we can make sure we are contributing to the strong communities HUD envisions.
…create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities
This is the first part of HUD’s mission statement and while our agency’s part in this might seem obvious, sometimes it’s best to dive a little deeper.
Here, we aren’t just talking about programs to help people secure housing. It’s important we ask ourselves what we are really doing to help “our community” be stronger, more sustainable, and more inclusive?
What does a strong, sustainable, and inclusive community actually look like?
Truly, it is one where its members want to be an integral part of what is happening within it. It’s a community where involvement is mutually beneficial and where everyone is valued and has something to offer. Simply, it’s a community that is engaged.
We have all been in a situation where we felt isolated or even unwelcome. Those feelings didn’t inspire us to engage with anything that was happening. In fact, the opposite is likely true. But if we think about a time when we were part of something where everyone was plugged in and actively contributing to the strength of the group… in those memories we accomplished so much more than we would have on our own.
So, how exactly do we recreate this and bring strength and stability to the people in our jurisdiction? How do we bring HUD’s mission to life?
Plainly put, we must make room for it. This means we must create spaces, whether in person or virtually, for the people in our community to come together. It is through shared experiences and collaboration that communities learn from each other, develop relationships, and overcome challenges.
Public housing agencies can do this by initiating forums, round tables, and other collaborative events providing an opportunity for people to share their experience, knowledge, and ideas with others in the community. AND, it allows you the PHA to share your expertise and establish yourself as a resource with your neighbors. We should make sure we are a wealth of knowledge for the concerns and struggles of our community. Above all, it’s important to lead by example. Make sure that we, ourselves, are engaged in what is happening around us.
While it can be easy to get lost in the numbers, it’s important to remember that each of those numbers has a name, each of those names has a story, and those stories represent the lives of a person and their family.
Yes, what we do does improve lives, but it is only a small part of a much bigger picture. Yet, for some reason, we tend to operate with tunnel vision. We stay in our bubble of housing vouchers and HAP payments and decide that we have done enough. And honestly, sometimes that truly is the best we can do. We know we can’t provide our families with everything they need. However, let’s ensure we’re actually doing everything we can.
This is where the community engagement mentioned above really becomes useful. What social service collabs do we have available in our area that we could be a part of in order to further the mission and vision we are tasked with? What benefits can we bring to partnerships in an effort to strengthen our community?
We won’t contribute very much to advancing our agencies, HUD’s mission, or improving lives if we aren’t willing to step outside our area of expertise and take a holistic approach to serving those in need. This could be something as simple as having a resource guide available for participating families and landlords. It could be cultivating partnerships with other agencies and organizations. Or finding services like mediation, financial literacy classes, or food banks that our community can benefit from.
We have all heard it said that changing the world starts within ourselves. If we are to be capable of the task at hand, we must be an example of what strong, sustainable, and inclusive looks like. We need to take great care to mimic those values within our own agencies, and ensure they are reflected in our policies, procedures, and workplace relationships.
When we help to strengthen others, we become stronger. Strong PHAs and strong communities are what it’s all about.