NLIHC Honors Housing Champions with Housing Leadership Awards!

NLIHC presented housing leadership awards to Representative Cori Bush (D-MO), John Parvensky, and Ayuda Legal Puerto Rico at the 41st Annual Housing Leadership Awards Reception at the Hilton Capitol Hill Hotel in Washington, D.C., on March 22. The Housing Leadership Awards Reception is NLIHC’s sole annual fundraiser. Representative Bush received the 2023 Edward W. Brooke Housing Leadership Award, while John Parvensky was awarded the 2023 Dolbeare Lifetime Service Award and Ayuda Legal Puerto Rico received the 2023 Sheila Crowley Housing Justice Award. The event was moderated by Dora Leong Gallo, chair of NLIHC’s board of directors and President and CEO of A Community of Friends in Los Angeles, California. Anne Mavity, executive director of Minnesota Housing Partnership and NLIHC board member, presented Representative Cori Bush with the 2023 Edward W. Brooke Housing Leadership Award for leading a movement to guarantee housing for all. The Brooke award is named for Senator Edward Brooke (R-MA), who as a U.S. senator and later as chair of the NLIHC board of directors championed low-income housing.

In her first term in Congress, Representative Bush introduced legislation to end homelessness by 2025, led a demonstration on the steps of the U.S. Capitol that successfully called on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to extend the eviction moratorium, and introduced legislation to permanently implement an eviction moratorium throughout the pandemic.

“Thank you so much to the National Low Income Housing Coalition for this award,” said Rep. Bush in recorded remarks. “And thank you for continuing to place data-driven solutions to the unhoused crisis where they belong: at the top of our national agenda. I have no doubt in my mind that together we can end the unhoused crisis once and for all. We will not give up until we deliver housing justice for all.”

Chrishelle Palay, executive director of the HOME Coalition in Houston, Texas, and NLIHC board member, presented Ayuda Legal Puerto Rico with the 2023 Sheila Crowley Housing Justice Award for its persistent efforts to ensure a just recovery – including access to safe and affordable housing – in the aftermath of numerous disasters. The award is named for former NLIHC President and CEO Sheila Crowley, who led NLIHC for more than 17 years.

Ayuda Legal Puerto Rico is a non-profit organization that provides free legal education to groups and communities in the defense of fundamental rights – especially the right to housing. “When we’re talking about human rights, it’s often so distant from the reality of the people that are denied their basic rights due to the political system, colonialism, systemic racism, austerity, budget cuts, a constant decision of who is left behind,” said Ariadna M. Godreau-Albert, who accepted the award on behalf of Ayuda Legal. She thanked “everyone that has been there opening so many doors, teaching us so many things, but also letting us learn from our own process, respectfully.”

Cathy Alderman, Chief Communications and Public Policy Officer at Colorado Coalition for the Homeless and NLIHC board member presented John Parvensky with the 2023 Dolbeare Lifetime Service Award for his longstanding leadership in the fight for housing and health care justice and equity as an advocate, a supportive housing developer, and a provider of health care for the homeless. The Dolbeare Lifetime Service Award is named for NLIHC’s founder, Cushing Niles Dolbeare, a pioneer of the affordable housing movement. 

As CEO of the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless for the past 37 years, John led the development of more than 2,000 supportive housing units. “Over the last 30 years, we’ve built over 2,000 supportive housing units using every combination of state, local, private financing, tax credits – everything we could find to get the work done,” said John. As a result, “last night, the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless housed more than 4,500 households, many of whom would have been homeless but for the work that we did. In the last year, we provided integrated healthcare, mental health, addiction treatment, dental services to more than 15,000 individuals who otherwise may have been locked out of those services – not out of a sense of charity or service, but out of a pursuit for equity and justice.”

NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel congratulated the three exceptional leaders, saying, “We are inspired by you and so grateful for your leadership and impact.” Diane announced that NLIHC surpassed its fundraising goal for the event, thanking all donors and the event host Wells Fargo. Diane also thanked the event’s host committee, NLIHC board members Nan Roman, Anne Mavity, Rusty Bennett, and Chrishelle Palay, and the NLIHC staff who planned and executed the successful event.