Maria Maio-Messano – 2019 Cornerstone Award

Each year we honor some of the best in our community and need your help in nominating those people and projects that are supportive housing heroes working to make an impact.

The Cornerstone award is bestowed by the SHA Board of Trustees to a person whose career has been devoted to exceptional service in the creation of affordable, supportive housing.

For over four decades Maria Maio-Messano has made fair and affordable housing her life’s mission. Maria Maio-Messano’s path of advocacy for others was nurtured from an early age by her parents who guided her in the way of helping neighbors and sustaining community. Building upon this lesson, Maria’s journey into developing affordable housing began with the Downtown Urban Housing Corporation in Jersey City helping residents achieve housing through sweat equity. This development mindset would be a strong asset as Maio-Messano eventually rose to lead the Jersey City Housing Authority and built meaningful connections with residents as well as managing over 2,300 apartments and over 4000 housing vouchers for affordable housing. Bringing all her experience to her most recent role as Director of the New Jersey State Office of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Maria’s vision was critical to her stewardship of New Jersey’s $1.7 billion dollar HUD allocation which affected the lives of people living in 100,000 households. Throughout her career Maria understood the importance of perseverance and keeping projects moving, finding ways to make others understand that creating and maintaining housing wasn’t just “the right thing to do,” but was an essential part of building a thriving and diverse community.

Maria is by every example of energy, work, and good humor the living representation of the Supportive Housing Cornerstone Award, and we at SHA are deeply grateful for all she has accomplished and the many she has inspired.

2019 Municipal Supportive Housing Award

Woodbridge Township

It takes a community to truly address the needs of all its residents and that dedication to supportive living and housing is why SHA is proud to award the 2019 Municipal Supportive Housing Award to Woodbridge Township.

Shown through a commitment of resources, programs, and development over the years, Woodbridge Township has earned this award. Recent projects include the Greens at Avenel, a 100-unit affordable housing development with 25% dedicated special needs units and the remaining 75% special needs accessible. The dedication to all aspects of community from schools to job training programs create the diverse partnerships that help residents of all ages thrive.

These success stories are the result of consistent and dedicated service to the very theme we celebrate this year with many homes as part of one community. As all over New Jersey our communities work to provide for each need, let us honor the efforts made and learn from the achievements in Woodbridge Township.

2019 Project of the Year Awards

SHA is proud to announce the two 2019 Project of the Year Award winners that are helping veterans find permanent homes. In addition to developing these projects with accessibility and innovation, the support planning of these projects includes building community partnerships and helping tenants integrate into the community by fostering independence and improving their quality of life.

SHA is pleased to celebrate the American Legion Post #107 and Camp Salute for their work in transforming their communities and helping house and support those who have given so much in serving our country. SHA also extends a special thanks to all our nominated projects for these awards who continue the tireless efforts to provide affordable, supportive housing in New Jersey.

American Legion Post #107 (Hoboken, NJ)

Arising from the destruction leveled by Hurricane Sandy in 2012, The American Legion Post 107 in Hoboken made a pledge to rebuild and through collaboration with donors and the City of Hoboken, not only rebuilt, but made permanent supportive housing for six homeless veterans. The development team includes Monarch Housing Associates, Kitchen and Associates, MidAtlantic Engineering Partners, Sabia Construction, NJHMFA, City of Hoboken, Hoboken Shelter, American Legion Post 107, and Bevan Lawson.

Camp Salute (Clayton, NJ)

Camp Salute is dedicated to providing over 70 affordable rental homes for families and veterans including handicap accessible and handicap adaptable apartments for residents. Combining support services in a community setting empowers veterans and families to build stable lives within their new homes. The development team includes Conifer Realty, People for People Foundation, Kitchen and Associates, and NJHMFA.

2019 Innovation Leadership Award

The New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency – Hospital Partnership Subsidy Program

SHA is proud to honor New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency‘s Hospital Partnership Subsidy Program with the 2019 Innovation Leadership Award.

Housing is healthcare. This simple statement forms the foundation of an ambitious and innovative state partnership with hospitals promoting investment in much-needed affordable and supportive housing for at-risk individuals in their communities.

Numerous studies have shown housing is a social determinant of health. Where and how people live is known to affect their well-being.

When people experience homelessness for a long period, they are unable to manage their health and begin to rely heavily on public institutions, such as hospitals, to meet their basic needs. As a result, frequent emergency room users, often those who are homeless, heavily impact hospital costs.

As anchor institutions in their communities, hospitals have an important role to play. Permanent supportive housing can not only help improve the quality of life and health of frequent emergency room users, but also help hospitals save significantly in avoided ER and in-patient costs.

While other healthcare systems and hospitals have begun to recognize the importance of affordable housing in promoting and sustaining health, the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency’s (NJHMFA) Hospital Partnership Subsidy Program is the first to be created, financed and led by a state housing agency.

Under the program, NJHMFA is providing capital subsidy which will be matched dollar for dollar with funds from participating hospitals to provide affordable apartments for low- and moderate-income families. A key component of the program requires that the projects include apartments set aside for special needs residents and/or individuals who are frequent users of hospital emergency department services.

2019 Direct Support Staff Award

Shamira Cruz

Shamira’s talents and dedication to helping others have earned her the deep respect and admiration of her community through her work with the North Bergen Housing Authority. Of the many vital collaborative programs and innovations she manages, Shamira’s work breaks down barriers of communication, helps screen aging residents for dementia and provide directed support services, and ensures healthcare information is easily accessible in the community. Understanding the importance of supportive housing on her own journey, Shamira doesn’t let roadblocks discourage her from providing the best possible care and advocacy to residents in North Bergen as she works to serve these needs.

2019 Tenant Award

Calvin Byrd

Proudly nominated by Resources for Human Development, Calvin is a prime example of how people can grow and thrive when they settle into the right place. After moving into his own apartment from a boarding home in 2012, Calvin has helped advocate, recommend, and support others on their path for a space of their own. Additionally, his advocacy and thoughtful feedback have been the root of changes in a variety of advisory committees and helped establish new practices supporting empowerment of residents in boarding homes. Whether sharing information on rights, advocating for change, or supporting other residents, Calvin has worked tirelessly to sustain others on their path to safe, affordable, and supportive housing.