June 20, 2022
San Diego Housing Commission Leaders and Collaborations Honored Among the Best in Affordable Housing at Ruby Awards
SAN DIEGO, CA —Azucena Valladolid, the San Diego Housing Commission’s (SDHC) Executive Vice President of Rental Assistance and Workforce Development, has been honored with the John Craven Public Service Memorial Award, one of several awards SDHC and its collaborations received among the “best people, projects, and achievements” recognized this year with prestigious local Ruby Awards from the San Diego Housing Federation.
“As an exceptional leader of the San Diego Housing Commission’s largest program, Azucena is an outstanding public servant and deserving of this recognition,” SDHC Interim President & CEO Jeff Davis said. “Additional awards are the result of the innovation and collaboration that are hallmarks of the San Diego Housing Commission. I thank and congratulate our leaders, staff, the many organizations we work with and all who were honored with Ruby Awards.”
Ms. Valladolid was recognized for her leadership of initiatives to enhance the process of leasing permanent rental housing units with supportive services for people experiencing homelessness, often referred to as permanent supportive housing. She oversees SDHC’s federal rental assistance program, which annually helps pay rent for more than 16,000 households with low income and/or experiencing homelessness in the City of San Diego. This award recognized a variety of initiatives she oversaw for permanent supportive housing developments, such as training for developers, property management and service providers regarding Project-Based Housing Vouchers, expedited background checks, weekly leasing status calls, and increasing staffing to enable SDHC to review applications in less time. These and other efforts helped with the process to lease units at the SDHC collaborative developments Stella, Beacon, Trinity Place and Ivy Senior Apartments.
Additional awards presented during a ceremony on June 16, 2022, included:
Special Recognition Award
SDHC’s former President & CEO Richard C. Gentry received a Special Recognition Award for his 50 years working in the affordable housing sector. Mr. Gentry led SDHC for approximately 14 years, overseeing an agency with more than 350 employees and a budget of more than $604 million at the time of his departure on March 31, 2022. Under his leadership, SDHC transformed from a traditional public housing agency into an agency recognized nationally for its innovative approaches to provide housing assistance for households with low income or experiencing homelessness. Mr. Gentry’s experience before joining SDHC included CEO positions with the Housing Authority of the City of Austin and the Richmond (Virginia) Redevelopment and Housing Authority, both of which received national recognition under Mr. Gentry’s leadership. In October of 2017, the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO) recognized Mr. Gentry with its highest honor, the Outstanding Professional of the Year Award, for lifetime service to the affordable housing industry.
Innovations in Response to COVID-19 Award
SDHC is among the housing authorities throughout the San Diego region that received this award jointly for their actions to utilize Emergency Housing Vouchers. These rental housing vouchers help San Diegans who are experiencing homelessness; are at risk of experiencing homelessness; are fleeing or attempting to flee domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, stalking, or human trafficking; or who recently experienced homelessness and for whom rental assistance will help prevent their homelessness or a high risk of housing instability. Through the American Rescue Plan Act, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development awarded 70,000 Emergency Housing Vouchers nationwide, of which more than 800 were awarded to public housing authorities in the San Diego region. SDHC received 480 of these Emergency Housing Vouchers. As of June 20, 2022, 95 percent of SDHC’s Emergency Housing Vouchers had been awarded to families who had leased a rental home (370) or were in the process of searching for a rental home with their voucher (84). Additional public housing authorities honored with SDHC are: City of Oceanside Housing Authority, National City Housing Authority and San Diego County Housing and Community Development Services.
Project of the Year for New Construction (Less Than 100 Units)
Keeler Court Apartments provides 70 one-, two- and three-bedroom units affordable for households with income from 30 percent to 60 percent of San Diego’s Area Median Income ($39,050 to $78,060 per year for a family of four) and one manager’s unit. SDHC awarded seven Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) vouchers to this development to help pay rent for veterans who previously experienced homelessness. They will receive supportive services from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System. SDHC also authorized the issuance of $25 million in Multifamily Housing Revenue Bonds, which the Housing Authority of the City of San Diego approved, to support this development. SDHC, the City of San Diego, and the Housing Authority are not financially liable for the bonds. Private sources of funds, such as revenue from the development, are used to repay the bonds. Community Housing Works developed this property.
Project of the Year for New Construction (More Than 100 Units)
Saint Teresa of Calcutta Villa provides more than 400 affordable rental apartments, of which 270 are for households that previously experienced homelessness. SDHC awarded 270 rental housing vouchers to help pay rent for residents who previously experienced homelessness and $11.5 million in loans to support the development. SDHC also authorized the issuance of approximately $115 million in Multifamily Housing Revenue Bonds, which the Housing Authority of the City of San Diego approved, to support this development. SDHC, the City of San Diego, and the Housing Authority are not financially liable for the bonds. Private sources of funds, such as revenue from the development, are used to repay the bonds. The housing units at this development are among more than 10,600 housing solutions that SDHC’s homelessness action plan, HOUSING FIRST – SAN DIEGO, has created since 2014 for individuals and families experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness. Father Joe’s Villages and Chelsea Investment Corporation developed this property.
Vice President of Communications
San Diego Housing Commission