VOA aims to serve residents and make its community a better place to live
Throughout the greater Sacramento region, Volunteers of America (VOA) operates a dozen subsidized housing complexes, offering 750 units of affordable housing. With their newest proposed project, the 1212 Village, VOA is hoping to create another 75 units of affordable housing for individuals and families on Del Paso Boulevard.
As legacy owners of most of these properties, VOA intends to keep these housing complexes affordable for the long term. It’s just as committed to providing a quality development and apartment homes as it is to being good neighbors in the communities the organization serve.
“This is today’s modern affordable housing, which can be beautifully done, if done well. It should look indistinguishable on the inside and the outside (from) market-rate housing,” says Doug Snyder, vice president, regional real estate development for VOA National Services. “Once completed curb appeal is really important to us, it’s going to be kept clean, we’ll have security, and we want to be a good neighbor. We want our residents to take pride in their homes and community.”
At VOA-managed properties, management and staff are trained in industry best practices. On site staff are Certified Occupancy Specialists and Housing Credit Certified Professionals well versed in regulations for Low Income Housing Tax Credit programs and HUD. Today’s affordable housing developments have sophisticated financing associated with them. This means that VOA and multiple financial partners have long term compliance commitments which also ensure properties are well kept.
“Volunteers of America ensures … that out staff are trained and have the certifications required to meet funding and best management practices,” says Melissa Liou, controller and housing director for the local VOA affiliate. “We provide annual training around fair housing (and) we also do refreshers around maintenance … so not only are our administrative staff trained, we also have training for our maintenance staff.”
A benefit of a national operator, such as Volunteers of America, is we receive and follow national trends and best practices, says Snyder. The residents and community benefit from this.
Good curb appeal makes good neighbors
Inside and out, VOA-managed properties are well maintained and employ security measures that benefit both residents and surrounding neighborhoods. Secure access and 24-hour video surveillance as well as communal spaces and unit amenities are some of the investments VOA makes in its buildings.
“We put quartz tops and other durable materials in our properties because we’re legacy owners, we’re going to own these forever; plastic laminate will get beat up and will need to be replaced. We never sell anything,” Snyder explains. “The little things that impact the way people live are (things like) the signage, artwork, interior finishes and the landscaping. When you come up to a building that has nice signage and nice landscape, you think, ‘This is really welcoming.’”
Such commitment to quality is in line with VOA’s resident-centered approach to affordable housing and long-term investment in its affordable housing communities.
“The property — the beautification, the landscaping and the buildings — are all kept in great condition. And that’s because the dollars have been invested back into the actual property,” Liou says. “We haven’t had, like in the private sector, that pressure to return the dollars to the investor and VOA takes very seriously returning that investment back into the property.”