Grand Forks Housing Authority

Learning Log

Grand Forks Housing Authority

Interim Report
Report date
October 31, 2017
Grant term
November 01, 2015
October 31, 2020
In recognition of winning a 2015 Bush Prize for Community Innovation, this grant will advance this organization's charitable mission
Changes because of the Bush Prize
GFHA has taken great strides toward providing Permanent Supportive Housing in Grand Forks at LaGrave on First, which broke ground in September. In addition to pulling in resources to cover construction costs, GFHA has taken the lead in bringing coordinated entry to Grand Forks, to include broader use of VISPDAT and HMIS. We believe this complex will provide a critical and highly beneficial service not only to those who reside at LaGrave on First, but to the community as a whole. Internally, GFHA has invested in significant software upgrades to both it's Yardi system and scanning software. Though government funding continues to decrease, the Bush Prize has allowed us to work toward new levels of efficiency in carrying out our work.
Impact on your field
Building and financing a permanent affordable housing facility, and doing so after proper research, are incredibly expensive tasks. We have no doubt that GFHA would not have been able to take on the LaGrave on First project as effectively, if at all, without the Bush Prize. Additionally, though new technologies are available every day, dramatically reduced administrative funds for government programming would have made it impossible for GFHA to leap forward in its internal technology, leaving the organization doing 2017 work with 2010 technology. The Bush Prize has also allowed GFHA to invest in marketing to both expand client awareness and promote organizational success. Bush Prize funds have been critical in allowing GFHA to invest in employees and board members, allowing the organization to send more employees to off-site training and built expertise for the organization. In many ways, the Bush Prize has allowed GFHA to take chances that we would not have in the past. These investments have returned rewards, and we could not be more thankful.
Goals for Bush Prize funds
Our most visible accomplishment during the Bush Prize timeframe will be construction of LaGrave on First and initiation of the first Permanent Supportive Housing facility in Grand Forks. Qualitatively, we hope to invest the Bush Prize in ways that will improve GFHA's ability to serve our clients and the Grand Forks community as a whole. This will be accomplished by focusing on enhancing the client experience as they go through the process of receiving housing assistance, while also enhancing our employees' ability to provide services.
Use of Bush Prize funds so far
To date funds have primarily been spent in the areas of Employee Enrichment, Customer Service Enhancements, and Affiliate/Partner Support and Development. The largest single expense has been support of Grand Forks Community Land Trust, as GFHA provided equity toward the construction of new CLT homes. These funds will be paid back once the CLT's units are sold. GFHA has also spent $58,731 toward longevity pay, which provides an incentive to employees at 5 year increments, encouraging longer tenure. Finally, software updates have been significant in 2016, totaling $52,775.
Plans for remaining Bush Prize funds
Remaining funds will be focused on expanding GFHA's services and ability to serve clients. In particular, these funds will be used as GFHA pursues additional funding necessary to provide administrative services at LaGrave on First. In many cases thus far, the Bush Prize has been used as a 'safety net' initially, in case additional funding for projects was not available, but the GFHA has been fortunate to bring in other funding sources to cover these expenses. While these expenses do not show in our Bush Prize financials, the availability of funding has played a critical role in: creation of a new web site for the GFHA, various marketing materials from business cards to briefing packets, rebranding of our Family Self-Sufficiency program to Launch, and the pursuit of HOME funds to acquire or maintain ownership of various affordable housing properties in the Grand Forks area. We expect to continue using the Bush Prize in this way, allowing staff to invest in new ideas without fear over whether or not funding will be available in time to bring ideas to fruition.