Housing our Neighbors is the second in a series of five short stories written to honor the compassion and commitment of Pinnacle team members who went to extraordinary lengths to help their communities, residents or each other. The following was recently showcased at the 2018 Pinnacle Annual Leadership Conference in Charleston, SC.
Supportive housing was designed to help those who need so much, but have so little. It deals with the neediest of our neighbors and dives levels deeper than affordable housing. The system is plagued with hard-to-understand rules and regulations but, luckily, Pinnacle has several experts who have learned to deal with the complexities. One such person is Vice President Stewart Hill. Through his tenacity, our company has sheltered and certainly changed the lives of countless individuals who were once caught by the plight of homelessness.
Stewart joined Pinnacle in an asset management role for an affordable housing portfolio. He was challenged to learn the ins-and-outs of the Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing program, also known as VASH, and bring it to the properties. This federal initiative is one of the most prominent solutions for getting veterans off the streets and into a stable environment. The economy was down at the time and there were vacant units in his portfolio, so his mission was to put those roofs over the heads of veterans in need of a permanent place to live. The idea seemed like a win-win but it was not exactly simple. This was the beginning of Stewart’s journey into the world of supportive housing.
Since his first appearance before the Veterans Administration in Washington DC nearly a decade ago, Stewart has bent the ear of numerous allocating state agencies and non-profits to source housing and case management for homeless individuals and their families, not just veterans. He has spent an inordinate amount of time learning terminology, processes, and the impending need of people who probably would have been overlooked without an advocate. Stewart has even taken the time to meet with case managers to make sure residents are living their best life in our communities and getting the resources they need.
Stewart’s relentless travels across the country, working in concert with Pinnacle team members dedicated to the same cause, has built alliances with the likes of Family Gateway, Legacy Counseling, SAMM Ministries and certainly VASH. Out of those relationships come stories, true stories, about people like our resident Faith who once had nothing but graduated because of the support she received through the Legacy program. She was granted a voucher from the Dallas Housing Authority and now works full time and affords rent on her own.
A Family Gateway occupant, Savannah, has turned her life around after being placed in a stable environment and is now maintaining a 4.5 grade point average, represents her high school as a tennis star and is visiting a number of colleges. The opportunities in front of her can certainly be attributed to personal drive, but the advocacy she receives is a huge part of it – a part that started when Stewart went before the VA all those years ago.
Stewart wears many hats at Pinnacle and delves into many initiatives. But the heartfelt work he does on behalf of the disadvantaged is certainly a feather in the company’s cap. Through his hard work, Pinnacle continues to change the lives of people who are looking for a hand up, not a hand out.