Investing in Affordable Housing: A Strong Asset Class

Operation Pathways Helping residents lead more rewarding lives By Kenneth White

2 019 saw a year of remarkable change and recognition for The NHP Foundation’s Resi- dent Services subsidiary, Operation Path- ways. Provider of strategic, results-oriented onsite services for nearly 5,000 residents of NHPF’s affordable communities, Operation Pathways employs innovation and works side by side with residents to effect real change in their daily lives. Operation Pathways offers comprehensive programs in five categories: academic achieve-

dent services, Operation Pathways was able to determine that resident services programs reduced property vacancy losses, legal fees and bad debts. The organization’s analysis also shows that Operation Pathways’ resident services programs decrease the number of skips and evictions. These results indicate that 83 percent of evictions and skips were from households that had not received any assis- tance from resident services. This information underscores the value of resident services programs to a property’s bottom line, but the value of resident services programming goes much deeper. Operation Pathways was one of the first resident services providers in the U.S. to adopt Family-Centered Coaching, rooted in an under- standing of the combined institutional forces preventing families from moving forward. Family-Centered Coaching, developed by the Prosperity Agenda with the support of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, equips staff with the mindset, skills and ongoing resources to work holistically with families toward financial wellness. The approach teaches human service organizations to better engage with, and assist, families experiencing poverty and other hard- ships. The entire Operation Pathways staff has been trained in Family-Centered Coaching and several of its senior leaders are certified trainers of the process. In 2019, residents took part in coaching, creating more productive and meaningful relationships with resident ser- vices coordinators, and leveraging their mutual strengths as creative, capable and resourceful partners to problem-solve together. Family-Centered Coaching transcends the traditional, transactional method of helping a resident fix a problem, which, while well- intended, falls short in bringing about long- term positive lifestyle changes. Residents achieve more for themselves and their fami- lies via the Family-Centered approach, which focuses on their strengths and the value they bring to the table. The results of this approach have included important breakthroughs in the

ment, healthy living, financial success, aging in place, and case management — a one-on-one guidance and referral process. In addition, data show that resident ser- vices in affordable family properties, work- ing in combination with local social services, can reduce rental property management costs. Reductions in turnover and nonpayment of rent have been observed, likely as a result of fami- lies becoming more financially stable. This is often the result of forming relationships with a network of reliability, beginning with resident services coordinators, and an overall stronger sense of community. This data demonstrates how properties and owners can improve their bottom lines by implementing resident ser- vices programs. By comparing family properties with resi- dent services to family properties without resi-

A Difference Maker

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