Due to the pandemic, many people throughout the country face a devastating reality of unemployment, finding affordable housing, and homelessness. In an ongoing effort to innovatively improve customer service especially during the pandemic, Tim Nicolazzi with the Kentucky Field Policy and Management (FPM) Office created the Partnership Outreach Program. The goal of the program is to improve positive outcomes for the communities that we mutually serve as new and existing community partners provide HUD program areas with a critical understanding of their roles and responsibilities.
Most recently, the office received a virtual, joint presentation from the Kentucky Legal Aid Network and the Appalachian Research and Defense Fund (AppalRed), two non-profit, civil law firms that offer free legal services to low-income people. In their presentation, the organizations highlighted how their services have been incredibly valuable during the COVID-19 pandemic to mitigate wrongful evictions and foreclosures throughout the state. Both organizations take a holistic approach with their clients and try to solve as many issues, as possible, simultaneously to relieve the stress of many low-income families. This includes providing additional assistance in helping families navigate the food stamps application process.
"Many times, when someone is not paying their rent, it is actually an unemployment benefits issue and it helps if we can see the entire picture to fill the public safety net holes," said Evan Smith from AppalRed.
In addition to the HUD Kentucky employees from Public and Indian Housing, FHA Multifamily Housing, and Field Policy Management, participants also included representatives from the Public Housing Authorities in the counties covered by the presenting organizations to discuss potential strategies for all participants to help HUD-assisted residents.
"The more involved we are with our local partners, the more impactful we can be as an Agency in responding to those who rely on our programs," said HUD Kentucky Field Office Director Peter Jackson. "Change is community driven, and it requires collaboration with those who are facilitating and experiencing our programs at the ground level to achieve it. I want to thank our local partners for taking the time to share their knowledge during this program, and our local employees who do the same with the goal of making HUD more effective."