On behalf of the HomeKeeper Team, I hope you and your loved ones are safe, healthy and refreshed from the holidays.
With 2020 now behind us, 2021 promises to be a year filled with positive changes. And so it is that today, January 15th, is the last day in my role as HomeKeeper Director at Grounded Solutions Network after more than ten years helping to nurture a more data-driven housing sector and wearing more hats than I can count.
I first started working on HomeKeeper in 2010, shortly after my second daughter was born. I was a community development consultant coordinating a small pilot project. I was tasked to operationalize lofty aspirations to build a program management app for the affordable homeownership sector, a data repository for sector-wide data, and impact reports to help programs benchmark their success. Our first challenge was to agree as a sector on common data standards and practices – not an easy task.
At the time, leaders of affordable housing organizations in our sector had already been searching for a new system to help staff manage day to day work and maximize impact. Researchers were in need of more data to evaluate the effectiveness of program models like Community Land Trusts. And advocates were in need of new evidence to advance systemic policy change and increase public support. With the expertise of some incredibly forward-thinking technology consultants, the dedication of program staff who joined our pilot and early adopter cohorts and provided first-hand insights, and the long-term support from our funders, our efforts paid off.
Today, the HomeKeeper program helps our sector manage programs and measure outcomes, tell better data-driven stories, and make a stronger case to support scaling our work. The program includes our HUD-approved, Salesforce app for affordable housing and housing counseling programs, the HomeKeeper National Data Hub, and our online Social Impact Dashboards. The program directly supports our organization’s mission to cultivate equitable and inclusive communities by advancing affordable housing solutions that last for generations.
These days, the HomeKeeper team supports over 380 users at 117 participating organizations, including:
- 37 Community Land Trusts are stewarding their affordable homeownership portfolios
- 45 Housing Counseling agencies are using our HUD-approved housing counseling features to support clients
- 33 Habitat for Humanity affiliates are reimagining the way their staff interact with families
- 83 homeownership programs that contribute detailed program data daily to the HomeKeeper National Data Hub.
The Hub is now most comprehensive data set available with over 6,600 properties and over 9,500 purchase transactions and over 1,700 resales. The data is shared in our public Social Impact Report dashboard and in individual program benchmarking reports. This dataset was also source for the most comprehensive performance evaluation of shared equity homeownership programs conducted to date and included research on 58 programs in 30 states over three decades and has supported other research projects over the years.
While I will no longer be a part of the HomeKeeper team at Grounded Solutions Network, the HomeKeeper community is as strong as ever and will continue to expand from the network of relationships we have built over the years. I’m grateful to everyone for being a part of our community, especially:
- Our HomeKeeper users and participating organizations that inspire us every day
- Our HomeKeeper team, Cheryl, Lindsey and Haley, who works tirelessly to grow and support our users, and our colleagues at Grounded Solutions Network that grow and support our sector
- Our product development partner DaizyLogik that builds our app, and our consulting partner, Lincoln Parkway Consulting builds
the capacity of our team
- Our many technology partners that we rely on every day (especially Salesforce) and the implementation consultants who have worked to extend the value of HomeKeeper with additional customizations
- Our peers in the Salesforce nonprofit community that provide support and mentorship
I wish I could personally thank everyone that I have crossed paths with as our program has blazed new trails. I have learned so much from each of you and appreciate your willingness to support me, our team and Grounded Solutions Network as we have grown. I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished together and the example we’ve set for others seeking to improve efficiencies and measure impact in collaboration with peers. For those hoping to replicate our sector-wide solution for your network, I suggest you learn more about how we built the HomeKeeper program and read up on questions for what you might ask yourself before embarking down this road.
The search is on for the next Director, so please review and forward our announcement to your networks. In order to ensure a smooth transition, I will be supporting the HomeKeeper team as a part-time consultant in the short-term to minimize any impacts to our users.
With this transition comes new opportunities for the HomeKeeper program in the short and long term. In 2021, plans are already underway to help more homeownership programs access their program’s Social Impact Report dashboard, improve the public Social Impact Report, in particular to revisit our metrics with a racial justice lens, and update our housing counseling features to align with the latest HUD reporting requirements. The HomeKeeper team will also work to support Grounded Solutions Network’s bold new initiative, Lasting Affordability in Housing Now, to scale housing programs and build a more just and equitable future.
What’s next for me? I’ll be turning my attention to my family for the coming months and will return to the workforce when our schools reopen and our lives return to some normalcy. I will be following the progress of the HomeKeeper community and will stay connected to the affordable homeownership sector as an individual member of Grounded Solutions Network. I wish you all the best in your pursuits for a more fulfilling and inspired year and beyond.
With much gratitude and appreciation,
To keep in touch, find me on LinkedIn.