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Posted by on Mar 2018 in All Stories, Sector voices | 0 comments

Patricia Mueller on Homes First Society’s Big Win

It’s awards season again, and ONPHA’s 2018 Awards program is now accepting nominations. To kick things off for 2018, we caught up with Patricia Mueller, Executive Director of ONPHA’s 2017 Award for Excellence winner Homes First Society.

Homes First was recognized for their low-barrier, evictions-prevention approach and their wide range of supports and programming that help tenants build life skills and reintegrate into their communities. We asked Patricia what it meant to be recognized, and what’s ahead. See what she had to say below.

How do you feel about Homes First Society being recognized as the 2017 winner of ONPHA’s Award for Excellence?

One of the things that meant the most about winning the award was the feeling of being recognized and receiving accolades from a group of housing sector peers.

For Homes First as an organization, the biggest take away was how proud our staff and tenants were that we won this award. We were lucky enough to have a large group of Homes First staff attend the 2017 conference to receive the award, and it was a big celebratory moment for the entire team.

Homes First Society receiving award on stage

Homes First Society

What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to other housing providers moving into 2018?

It’s all about the residents. Everything we do is motivated by our goal to improve their housing, support their integration in the community and enhance their dignity. Wherever and whenever we can ask our residents for their input and involvement, we should.

What impresses you most about Ontario’s non-profit housing sector?

I am constantly impressed by the tenacity of housing providers and their ability to provide high-quality housing, even in the face of limited budgets and the many restrictions we face. Funding requirements have become more and more prescriptive, requiring a great deal more training and effort. Often, there aren’t enough resources to be able to meet these requirements, so it takes a great deal of creativity and tenacity to get the job done.

If you had a “housing resolution” for 2018, what would it be?

I’d like to look at every building in our portfolio and every one of our footprints to determine if we can add incremental units to our buildings. I think that if every housing provider were to do this, we’d have the potential and opportunity to increase affordable housing stock by 3-5% in the province of Ontario. It wouldn’t necessarily solve our housing issues, but it would be a great first start at a low per-unit cost.

Consider nominating an outstanding housing provider in 2018

ONPHA’s awards program recognizes the organizations and individuals who exemplify what’s best about our sector, in the areas of excellence, innovation, leadership, tenant achievement and lifetime of service.

With a spotlight on affordable housing and so much change on the horizon, now more than ever, it’s time to tell our success stories and bring our experience to the forefront.

This year, consider nominating your own organization, another organization, or an individual or group for one of our five award categories. Nominations take about 30 minutes to complete, and when you consider what it can mean to your organization, staff team and tenants, it’s certainly time well spent.

ONPHA is accepting nominations until Friday, May 11, 2018. Visit our website to download the nomination forms and to learn more about what awards are available, eligibility criteria and the nominations process.

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