NLIHC, joined by Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Tina Smith (D-MN), Representative Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO), and others, presented Jennifer Leimaile Ho, Bill Faith, and Shauna Sorrells with the 2020 Housing Leadership Awards during NLIHC’s 38th Annual Housing Leadership Awards Celebration livestreamed on Wednesday, August 26. A recording of the celebration is available at: https://bit.ly/3hWkXIu
Marla Newman, NLIHC board chair, kicked off the event with words of support for the communities of the Gulf Coast preparing for the landfall of Hurricane Laura, assuring them that NLIHC would work with them to ensure a just, equitable recovery after the storm—just as it is leading nationwide in response to the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic. Eileen Fitzgerald, head of housing affordability philanthropy at Wells Fargo, host sponsor of the Leadership Awards Celebration, also delivered opening remarks, commending NLIHC for its advocacy and research and congratulating the honorees.
Marla Newman presented the 2020 Edward Brooke Housing Leadership Award posthumously to Shauna Sorrells, former NLIHC executive committee board member, director of the Office of Public Housing Programs at HUD, and chief operating officer at the Housing Opportunities Commission of Montgomery County. Representative Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO) described Shauna as “one of Kansas City’s finest housing advocates,” lauded her twenty years of tireless work to end homelessness and housing insecurity in the U.S. and urged all those in attendance to carry the torch Shauna left with us. NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel spoke about her close friend Shauna and introduced Shauna’s son Isaiah Dadzie and his father Solomon, who accepted the award in Shauna’s honor.
Next, Marla presented the Sheila Crowley Housing Justice Award, named after former NLIHC President and CEO Sheila Crowley, to Jennifer Leimaile Ho, commissioner of Minnesota Housing and former senior advisor at HUD and deputy director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH). The award recognized Jennifer for her outstanding work to end homelessness and housing poverty in the U.S. since 1999 at Hearth Connection, USICH, HUD, Minnesota Housing, and beyond. Jennifer was praised for her years of service by Senator Tina Smith (D-MN), who said of her friend, “I’ve worked shoulder to shoulder with Commissioner Ho, fighting for equity in housing and for the fundamental value that every person deserves a safe, stable, affordable place to live.” Jennifer accepted the award with a call to action: “Housing justice and racial justice belong in the same breath,” she said. Speaking from her home state of Minnesota, the epicenter of the 2020 uprisings against racial injustice, Jennifer urged attendees to seize the current moment and fight for “bigger and bolder solutions” to racial inequity.
Marla then presented the Cushing Dolbeare Lifetime Service Award to Bill Faith, executive director of the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio and former NLIHC board member and chair, for his many years of leadership, dedication and tireless work to secure decent, safe, and affordable homes for the lowest-income people in Ohio and across the U.S. “He gets both the big picture and the policy details that matter, that make an idea work on the ground, in our state, [and] across the country” said Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), congratulating Bill for the “well-deserved” honor. The award is named for NLIHC’s founder Cushing Niles Dolbeare, a pioneer of the of the affordable housing movement, and Bill spoke about Cushing’s early days establishing the Coalition and about her inspiring leadership, respect for all partners and stakeholders, commitment to data-driven advocacy, and unyielding commitment to securing affordable homes for those most in need.
Diane Yentel closed out the event by congratulating all three honorees and committing NLIHC to continue their legacy in leading in the fight to ensure the lowest-income people in America have safe, accessible, and affordable homes.
Watch the recording at: https://bit.ly/3hWkXIu