At the foundation of Urban Homeworks’ mission is a commitment to what the organization calls People Oriented Developments, or, PODs. As the name suggests, the idea behind the POD model is to put people first, which means developing real-estate in close, approximately 1-block radius proximities so people will be more apt to know and be known by their neighbors. In essence, the goal is to develop community both spatially (through the physical development of actual ‘neighborhoods’) and psychologically (through the natural relationships that develop among neighbors).
We are committed to creating stability within our neighborhoods and have learned that by weaving together a strong network of relationships – where neighbor advocates for neighbor, where the many voices that are typically unheard join together to become one amplified voice, thriving communities begin to emerge. – Chad Schwitters
The people-focused model has seen great success. According to UHW, the average stay of families in affordable housing through UHW is three years. For Schwitters, that means families have time to build connectivity, kids find stability by being able to stay in the same classrooms, and parents’ objectives can turn from “Where do we sleep tonight?” to “How can I take the next step in my career?”
Though PODs have proven effective in building community, the high costs associated with the rehab of single-family and small, scattered site multi-family homes makes financing the developments more of a challenge. In order to keep their commitment to person-centered development, the organization has had to get creative with their financial strategies.
Photos by Patrick Photography, 2014.