Preservation of Affordable Housing Wins $2M, Tech Aid
Preservation of Affordable Housing

October 1, 2020 — Preservation of Affordable Housing, a Boston-based national nonprofit that creates and sustains affordable housing which supports economic security, racial equity, and access to opportunity, was recently named a winner of a nationwide competition, garnering $2 million in grants and two years of technical assistance valued at $500,000.

Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH), one of six winners of the Housing Affordability Breakthrough Challenge, funded by Enterprise Community Partners and Wells Fargo, won for its Designing Trauma-Resilient Communities project, a collaborative, human-centered design process to cultivate trauma-informed care within affordable rental housing.

POAH will partner with five organizations from around the country: Design Impact in Cincinnati, Stewards of Affordable Housing for the Future in Washington, DC, The Center for Trauma Informed Innovation at Truman Medical Centers in Kansas City, Community Services League in Independence, MO, and MASS Design Group in Boston.

Together, with residents and staff members, the project team will explore trauma-informed innovations in resident services, property management, and physical design. The result, POAH said, will be a more equitable model for affordable housing that reduces evictions, improves resident and staff retention; promotes healthy, physical design; and contributes to individual and community resiliency.

“We are very grateful to Enterprise Community Partners and Wells Fargo for funding this important resident services initiative,” said Aaron Gornstein, president and CEO of POAH. “We believe that applying trauma-informed care principles and practices to affordable housing is an idea whose time has come.

“The COVID-19 pandemic and the growing need to address racial injustices make this even more urgent today. We look forward to getting started with our partners so that we can help make a positive impact on our residents, staff, and affordable housing providers across the country.”

The competition drew close to 900 highly competitive applications from 49 states, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

Entrants were asked to specifically demonstrate how their breakthrough ideas addressed racial equity and environmental considerations. The applications varied widely, demonstrating a commitment to reframing approaches to single-family and multifamily housing challenges and addressing the wide-ranging needs of homeowners, renters, children, youth, families and seniors in communities across the United States.

After two application rounds, 15 finalists were invited to offer a detailed application proposal and present a 10-minute virtual pitch to an independent panel of judges composed of leading national affordable housing and community development experts. The judges heard five pitches for each of the Breakthrough Challenge’s three focus areas – Housing Construction, Housing Finance, and Resident Services and Support. Finally, six winners were chosen, two from each focus area.

“Housing affordability is directly tied to racial equity and both are urgent issues fundamentally impacting every community in our country. That is what makes the Breakthrough Challenge so important right now,” said Priscilla Almodovar, chief executive officer at Enterprise Community Partners.

Nate Hurst, president of the Wells Fargo Foundation, said, “Too often good ideas are overlooked because they need expertise and resources to bring them to scale. We are delighted to join Enterprise Community Partners to engage creative innovators with know-how, technical skill, and imagination, who are now awarded catalytic funding to transform their housing affordability ideas into real solutions on the ground.”

Established in 2001, POAH owns and operates more than 11,000 affordable rental homes in 11 states and the District of Columbia.