Award of Excellence: Building for the Future
The Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority wins a 2017 Award of Excellence in Client and Resident Services for the Building for the Future program, which is a partnership with local organizations to help small and underrepresented contractors become competitive in the construction industry. Nominated from among the NAHRO Award of Merit winners each year, the Awards of Excellence winners are chosen by national juries and honored at the annual National Conference and Exhibition in October. They represent the very best in innovative programs in assisted housing and community development.
The Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA) is committed not only to providing quality, affordable housing, but also to giving members of the low-income and underrepresented community equitable access to economic opportunities. CMHA is currently converting their Asset Management units into the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD), a Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) program that provides access to funding to make improvements to public housing properties and have taken this opportunity to create an economically inclusive bidding environment for the RAD contracts.
CMHA started a contractor support and education initiative called “Building for the Future” to assist Small Businesses (SBE), Minority-Owned Businesses (MBE), Women-Owned Businesses (WBE), Section 3 businesses that employ low-income individuals, and resident-owned businesses. CMHA connected businesses with community stakeholders who help them develop the skills they needed to become more competitive for subcontracts with the larger construction firms who win RAD project contracts.
CMHA partnered with the following organizations for their “Building the Future” initiative:
- The Small Business Administration
- The City of Cincinnati
- Urban League of Greater Cincinnati’s Business Development Center
- The Jurisdiction-Wide Resident Advisory Board (J-RAB)
- The Minority Business Assistance Centers of Cincinnati
- The Small Business Administration’s Procurement Technical Assistance Center
- The African American Chamber of Commerce
- The Greater Cincinnati Microenterprise Initiative and others
These partners met with businesses to create professional business plans and capability statements that accurately portray their skills and experience. The City of Cincinnati conducted in-person and webinar trainings to help contractors become certified as an SBE, MBE, WBE or Section 3 business. The Small Business Administration and the Greater Cincinnati Microenterprise Initiative worked with these contractors to ensure that they had the financial capacity to take on RAD contracts in the future.
After they received their certifications, CMHA showed contractors how to leverage their skills and certifications to win subcontract construction bids. PTAC and the African American Chamber of Commerce provided access to computers and technical support to help contractors electronically submit bids, quotes, proposals, and other necessary documents.
Once the contractors completed their training, CMHA held networking events where they could connect with larger construction companies and showcase their capability statements, general business plans, and sustainability plans they created throughout the program. The Building for the Future team of community service providers is still available to assist the contractors with any challenges after they receive RAD subcontracts.
The program created no additional costs for CMHA and their partner organizations because it is a collection of existing programs and services that were strategically melded together to boost economic inclusivity in their community. HUD nominated CMHA’s Building for the Future program as a “Best Practice” and will be promoting it to ensure that public housing authorities (PHAs) across the country work to produce similar successful results as they implement the RAD conversion program. The Building for the Future program is an efficient and low-cost tool that can be utilized by PHAs nationwide to strengthen underrepresented businesses and give them an equitable chance to participate in economic opportunities in their community.