Supporting Our Community Through Resident Services
IBA has long been committed to providing affordable housing to our community. A key part of this effort has been our Resident Services Program, which helps our residents access support resources. To learn more about our Resident Services Program, we sat down with Senior Program Director, Rafael Medina.
1. How long have you been with IBA? Can you tell us about your time here?
I joined IBA in 2013, since then my career focus has been in community development, paying special interest to socio-economic development, and what it could look like at IBA. Considering our diverse and large programmatic offerings, I have been committed to creating change at a modest pace to continue developing strategies to disrupt the cycle of poverty. My team and I are always on the lookout to identify how we translate social and economic mobility into our programming.
When I think about where we were 7 years ago, important programmatic evolution has occurred since. Back in 2013, IBA programs took a strong step; aligning programing, incorporating data systems, measuring impact, and refining our matrix. For the past five years, our ability to build data points around impact is stronger, and from there our community development vision continues to be polished and adaptive to community needs and trends. The past six years at IBA have been fascinating. We have seen programs embracing and using computer dashboards to inform decisions, better communication through automated referral system, tracking of participant academic progress to supporting tenants build credit and assets through rent reporting. It’s very inspirational to also see how all this has been enriched with shared leadership between hard working staff and empowered community members.
2. What are your main responsibilities as Senior Program Director?
I am responsible for overseeing 6 programs: Preschool, Afterschool and Summer Learning, Youth Development, College and Financial Empowerment, Resident Services, and Arts, in addition to leading, supporting, and motivating staff and team members. My position requires navigating across programs and departments, staff, consultants, and representing IBA.
3. What does Resident Services do?
Resident Services provides case management services to our residents and works to link residents with other supportive services and organizations to meet specific needs. We enhance the ability of residents, and empower them to uphold their lease obligation and ensuring quiet enjoyment of the property for all residents. The program also builds community, and maintaining external partnerships to connect residents with personal care services, family support services, employment opportunities and wellness.
4. Can you talk about the current Resident Services team?
Our RSP team consist of two Resident Service Coordinators and one Community Building Coordinator. Our Resident Service Coordinators are both Social Workers. They directly work with Villa Victoria residents supporting their housing, wellness and stability.
Our Community Building Coordinator actively engages residents and community stakeholders to provide a variety of programming and events that address many of the needs and interests of the community. Outreach is a big component for Resident Services programming and the CBC has a key role to increase resident engagement and participation.
5. Does Resident Services have any main focus this year? What are some of the Resident Services Program goals this year and how is the team working to meet them?
Our main focuses this year are stable housing and socio-economic mobility.
One of our goals is to incorporate and support our new tenants from West Newton St. and Rutland St. That will put us at 667 affordable housing units, with a total population of approx. 1500 residents. Additionally, we’d like to increase and continue credit building through rent reporting, expand opportunities to building community assets, food access, continue financial coaching and stable housing, implement IBA’s ambassador programs for residents, and increase the residents’ participation and engagement. In addition, IBA is eager to be more effective in building community through the arts through place making. It’s a very exciting time.
7. What process does a new resident go through when joining the IBA community and what role does Resident Services play?
Resident Services Coordinators plays an intrinsic part of the on-boarding, integration and support. First, we give an orientation about the services we offer at Resident Services, in addition to our five other programs at IBA. The Household Composition tells us who else in the household could also be supported through our programing. An intake form and assessment is the second step to gather important information about demographics, and socio-economic needs. We connect residents to internal or external resources through referrals.
The Resident Services Coordinator team also explain to [new residents] the importance of participating in our activities so their voice can be heard, and give them the calendar of activities that all IBA programs offer to the residents so they can participate and benefit. The role of the Resident Services Coordinator in the first stage of introduction is as a counselor and facilitator, with the potential to become a coach.
8. Can you talk about a specific case the Resident Services team came together and worked on?
A resident stopped paying for her daughter to attend our preschool, so our resident services coordinators referred her to our College and Financial Empowerment program for financial counseling. After six sessions of learning how to budget and making hard choices, the resident found that eliminating one pack of cigarettes a month, and cutting down on her household cleaning supplies, she could successfully make the payments. She practiced these changes and soon began making on-time deposits and paying what she owed for previous months.
That’s an important milestone for anyone, and we are thrilled when we see change and empowerment happen in a tangible way. In 2018, we managed 178 cases of stable housing, significantly reducing the eviction rate. As a Community Development Corporation, we will continue preserving affordable housing, with a holistic approach to housing stability.
To learn more about IBA’s Resident Services Program, visit ibaboston.org/programs/resident-services...