November 26, 2013

A Day in the Life – Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships

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Welcome to the third edition of a new blog series, A Day in the Life, which will introduce you to HUD employees and highlight the important work they do. 

Many are familiar with HUD programs offices such as Housing, Community Planning and Development (CPD), or Public and Indian Housing (PIH).  But there is another office serving an important role as liaison between faith-based and community organizations and the agency: the HUD Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships (HUD CFBNP).

HUD CFBNP is one of 13 federal centers created to serve as resource for secular and faith-based nonprofits seeking to partner with HUD and the federal government to address the housing and economic development needs in their respective communities.  The Center is a convener, bringing nonprofit practitioners, faith and community leaders, and policy makers together to more effectively identify and meet the needs of some of the nation’s most vulnerable citizens.  HUD CFBNP staff work closely with the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships to share agency grant opportunities and information related to homelessness, affordable housing development, foreclosure assistance, and housing counseling.

Photo of Linda AyalaToday, we meet Linda Ayala, a Program Manager with HUD CFBNP who whose primary role is outreach to faith and community groups on behalf of HUD.

I asked Ms. Ayala a few questions about her job.

What is your typical day like?

My typical day starts with checking and replying to emails from inside and outside the organization.  When assigned a new project to manage, I will often spend parts of my day reading and researching the topic.  Currently, HUD CFBNP is building out some events on the topic of housing needs for human trafficking survivors. The tremendous amount of reports to read or research can take up a good bit of my time initially.  The rest of my day can be filled with meetings and/or as support for other team projects.  In our busiest times of the year, my typical day can be filled with administrative work, writing briefing memos, meetings, photocopying, as well as preparing for outreach events around the country.

What is the overarching task of your position?

The most important overarching task in my job is helping plan the Center’s future work out in the community always keeping in mind HUD’s strategic goals and priorities as well as staying abreast of current national housing trends and issues.  One of the HUD CFBNP’s greatest assets to HUD is our outreach to faith and community organizations.  Our strategizing takes into account what kind of information the groups may need and who within the halls of HUD can be a resource to them.  Forging intra-departmental partnerships on projects is important especially when our faith-based stakeholders’ needs run the gamut from foreclosure prevention to grant seeking to homeownership to fair housing to disaster assistance.  Knowing everything about HUD’s programs is impossible but knowing a little bit and especially who to go to for the answers is the key.  One of our greatest successes is having strong intra-departmental relationships with HUD’s program offices as well as strong inter-agency relationships with the other 12 Centers Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

Having a compassionate nature, the foreclosure scam stories challenge me especially when people ask me what can be done to help them if they’ve already been a victim.  Unfortunately, once the scam has occurred often there is nothing that can be done other than report it to the authorities.  When I’ve provided foreclosure prevention, housing counseling assistance, or Section 8 information to someone, later I often wonder, “Did they get to save their home? Did they really go see that counselor?  Was there a voucher available?”  These kinds of thoughts and unanswered questions not only challenge me but can leave me a little burdened.

What’s the most exciting part of your job?

I really like getting to work and speak with people who need the help directly…the grass roots level.  Whether it’s answering emails, phone calls or talking to people after a workshop, I like being able to get HUD program information into the hands of those church or community leaders who will take it back and share with their members.  At our events, there is nothing more rewarding than hearing people tell you how much they appreciate getting the brochures/pamphlets to share with others while also asking, “When can you come back?”

Tell me a little bit more about your background.

I started at HUD in 2006 in the CDBG Entitlements Division and later moved to the Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships office in 2008.  Before I came to HUD, I worked for 12 years with the LULAC National Educational Service Centers (LNESC), a non-profit agency providing college prep and access programs to low-income, first generation middle and high school aged children.  I was actually one of their student participants when I was in high school and after I graduated from college I went to work for the organization.

Thanks for stopping by and be sure to check back next month for a new edition of A Day in the Life!

Jovette Gadson is a Program Advisor on rotational assignment with the HUD Office of Public Affairs.

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