In the video:
Breah Anderson, Director of Housing, House of Hope CDC
Lauren Legocki, Director of Community Impact, Preservation of Affordable Housing
Bancroft Soto, Director of Asset Management, ONE Neighborhood Builders
Grace Evans Pedanou, Vice President of Strategy & Chief of Staff, ONE Neighborhood Builders
Several leading figures in affordable housing met during our virtual Fresh Fridays session on Oct. 27, 2023, to discuss best practices and strategies for eviction prevention. The session underscored the value of understanding individual tenant circumstances, fostering strong relationships, offering extensive support services, and building trust within housing communities.
Breah Anderson, from House of Hope, a statewide organization based in Warwick, said her organization views housing as a basic human right. In the past, she said, House of Hope prioritized relationship-building with residents, assisting them with honest budgeting and steering them through challenges. By adopting a “housing first” and harm-reduction approach, Anderson said they have succeeded in ensuring that tenants remain securely housed. This requires understanding their unique challenges and helping them with financial planning. House of Hope provides street outreach, mobile showers in four cities, and a peer mentor employment training program, supporting about 300 households through owned properties and partnerships with developers and landlords, she said.
Lauren Legocki, representing Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH), which operates across 11 states and Washington, D.C., said her agency’s perspective is that housing stability is foundational. POAH focuses on ownership, development, and management of affordable housing. She detailed POAH’s eviction-prevention methods, which in the past involved sending timely rent reminders, resident services, and maintaining clear communication between property management and community coordinators. Legocki described their three-stage approach to eviction prevention: prevention, intervention, and follow-up.
Bancroft Soto, Director of Asset Management at One Neighborhood Builders, addressed the balancing act between meeting property management’s financial obligations and understanding the individual challenges faced by residents. Sharing previous strategies, Soto noted how critical it was to understand each resident’s story. As part of that, ONE|NB’s approach is offering extended repayment agreements and avoiding marking evictions on tenant records, and that has substantially reduced delinquency rates, he said.
During the Q&A portion of the session, Domenic Delmonico raised concerns about how agencies can prevent employee burnout in demanding roles, drawing parallels to his experience in hospitals. In response, Anderson said House of Hope uses regular team meetings, one-on-one supervision, encourage self-care, and offers training to help prevent burnout. Legocki said POAH has simplified tasks by using a series of communication templates. She also spoke about the importance of supporting their staff. Both Anderson and Soto stressed recognizing small achievements and the overarching mission to keep the team motivated and cohesive.