Rental Assistance Demonstration in San Francisco: Holly Courts

“We’re glad to be home; it’s beautiful.”  Deborah Gibson and Herman Travis have been residents for 13 years at Holly Courts, the first public housing project built in San Francisco. Their unit was one of 118 that went through a Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) conversion that allowed the housing authority to invest in everything from new floors and kitchen appliances to increased lighting that transformed the units into light and airy spaces. Click here to see their newly renovated home and to hear more of their story.

Read more about Holly Courts.

Rental Assistance Demonstration in San Francisco: Holly Courts
Rental Assistance Demonstration in San Francisco: Holly Courts

Today’s Word with Joel and Victoria

Today’s Scripture

“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
(2 Corinthians 4:18, NIV)

Focus on the Unseen

Every obstacle in your life is subject to change. It doesn’t matter what you may be facing, there is an answer in the unseen. The unseen is the spiritual realm where the promises of God exist. Your faith brings those unseen things into this natural realm. When you are fixed on something, you can’t be moved. There’s a determination that fuels your focus. When you fix your eyes on the unseen—the promises of God—your faith will not be moved by your circumstances, and you’ll eventually see those promises come to pass.

Make the decision today to fix your eyes and mind on the promises of God. Meditate on His promises until they become more real to you than the air you breathe. Declare that His promises will come to pass in your life. Declare that you have His favor. Declare that you are more than a conqueror. Don’t allow fear and doubt to change what you are speaking over your life. As you continue to fix your spiritual eyes on the unseen promises of God, you will see those things come to pass in the natural, and you will move forward into the abundant life the Lord has for you!

Today’s Prayer

“Father God, today I choose to fix my eyes on You. I choose to fix my mind and heart on Your promises no matter what it looks like in this natural world. I know that Your Word is true and that Your promises will be fulfilled in my life in Jesus’ name. Amen.”

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Mortgage Rates Avoid More Dire Outcomes After Inflation Report

Mortgage rates caught a break yesterday by moving lower for the first time this week. They arguably caught a break again today by not moving any higher than they did. Underlying bond markets (which drive mortgage rate changes) were rocked this morning by stronger inflation data. The important Consumer Price Index (CPI) was expected to hold steady at the same low levels that have persisted since the middle of 2017. The modest uptick in inflation sent bond yields higher and resulted in most mortgage lenders putting out noticeably higher rates this morning. Lenders don’t like to put out more than one rate sheet per day if they can help it, but if markets move enough, they will “reprice.” After the initial trauma, bond markets began a trend of improvement that ultimately resulted in widespread
Mortgage Rates Avoid More Dire Outcomes After Inflation Report
Mortgage Rates Avoid More Dire Outcomes After Inflation Report

Today’s Word with Joel and Victoria

Today’s Scripture

“Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
(Galatians 1:10, NIV)

God’s Servant

Paul was obviously not worried about trying to please the people around him. It’s not that he didn’t care about others. It’s just that he was focused on serving the Lord. Many times you may be too worried about what people think of you, which inhibits you from following God with your whole heart. Instead, follow those God-given desires with reckless abandon because all that will matter in the end is fulfilling God’s plan for your life. You are called to serve God without reserve, so fulfill His plan without letting others sidetrack you.

A Prayer for Today

“God, give me the dedication to be Your servant alone. Help me not to be sidetracked by what others may think of me in Jesus’ name. Amen.”

 

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Today’s Word with Joel and Victoria

Today’s Scripture

“God can pour on the blessings in astonishing ways so that you’re ready for anything and everything, more than just ready to do what needs to be done…”
(2 Corinthians 9:8, MSG)

Living to Give

Nothing moves the heart of God quite like taking the time and effort to meet the needs of hurting and desperate people. When you focus on meeting the needs of others, you won’t have time to worry about your own needs – which is actually fine since God has promised to take care of your needs when you spend yourself on behalf of others. The Bible says that God wants to bless you and give you what you need in abundance, so why wouldn’t you give? Give anything and everything you can, whether it’s time, money, prayer or just a kind word. So if you want God to satisfy you with every good thing, go out and help somebody in need. Give your life away.

A Prayer for Today

“Lord, thank You for giving me so much from Your storehouse of love. Help me to reach out to others and make their lives more blessed in Jesus’ name. Amen.”

 

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Today’s Word with Joel and Victoria

Today’s Scripture

“Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith.”
(Romans 12:6, NASB)

Be Yourself

The key to living a happy, fulfilling, satisfied life is really very simple. Just be the person God made you to be and have the courage to do what God called you to do. He has a unique and individual plan for your life, and the way to becoming a champion for God is to discover that plan and follow it wherever it may lead. But because you are human, it’s easy for you to get distracted — many times because you’re trying too hard to please other people. Of course, there are legitimate demands on your time that must be met. The good news is that these things don’t have to thwart God’s plans for you. Just make it your desire to follow and please Him, and you won’t be thrown off the path by life’s demands and distractions.

A Prayer for Today

“Lord, please help me today to use the abilities and gifts You have given me to honor You. Thank You for not expecting me to try and be someone other than the person You made me to be in Jesus’ name. Amen”

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Today’s Word by Joel and Victoria

Today’s Scripture

“Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you.”
(Proverbs 4:25, NIV)

Keep Looking Ahead

In order to fulfill your divine destiny, you have to know your purpose. You need a plan, and then you must work within that plan. You should wake up each day knowing where you’re going, which direction you will take to get there, and what you want to accomplish. Once you find your purpose, stick with it! Don’t allow the distractions of life get you off course. Ask yourself, “Is what I’m doing moving me toward my God-given destiny? Am I staying focused? Is this my purpose, or am I just wasting my time being busy?” Don’t be distracted and spend your time and energy on things that may be interesting but not helping you fulfill your destiny. Remember, God’s plans are blessed, and as you walk in His plan for your life, you will experience His abundant blessing on everything you set your hand to!

A Prayer for Today

“God, Your Word promises that You will guide me if I seek You. Show me how to order my time and arrange my schedule to accomplish Your will in Jesus’ name. Amen”

 

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Today’s Word with Joel and Victoria

Today’s Scripture

“We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us…”
(Romans 12:6, NIV)

You are made for a purpose

Understanding why God put you here is one of the most important principles when it comes to discovering your unique purpose and calling in life. The reason is that knowing why you are here on earth helps you answer the question of why God has uniquely gifted you the way He has and what He has called you to accomplish individually. There’s nothing more exciting than to discover your purpose, your area of calling, and really focus on it! Don’t let the enemy tell you you’ve been forgotten or left out. God has not left anybody out. You have talents, you have abilities, you have natural strengths, and you need to be aware of what they are and make sure that you’re taking advantage of them and using them for His glory. There is something important that only you can accomplish for God!

A prayer for Today

“God, help me to understand clearly the reason You created me and gifted me the way You have so I can fulfill my purpose and experience the joy and victory that comes from being in Your will in Jesus’ name. Amen.”

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Today’s Word provided by Joel Osteen Ministries

Today’s Scripture

“…I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.”
(Philippians 3:13-14, MSG)

What Are Your Goals?

The reason it is so important for you to set and achieve goals is that you have a unique purpose that only you can fulfill. It’s kind of like building your own house–something you had better not attempt without a clear vision of your goals and a good set of blueprints, or you may wind up with some extra doors or windows and no place to put them! God is the architect of your life. His Word is a blueprint of His hopes and plans for your life. Trust Him to help you set your goals. If you have a problem being focused and setting goals for your life, one of the best things you can do is to start writing them down, both short-term and long-term ones. It’s amazing how your life can begin to take shape when you can see on paper where you want to go.

A Prayer for Today

“God, thank You that You are the architect of my life. Give me the wisdom to follow Your blueprint and set goals that reflect Your desires for me in Jesus’ name. Amen.”

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Puerto Rico’s Public Housing Director on Surviving the Storm and Planning for the Next One

Photo: HUD’s Antonio Córdova surrounded by PIH staff in Puerto Rico.

On his birthday, Sept 5, Antonio Córdova says the devastation that was coming to Puerto Rico started rolling in. That is the day Hurricane Irma touched the U.S. Virgin Islands first, then landed in Puerto Rico the next day. It was the beginning of the worst hurricane season in modern history to hit the Caribbean. Then, on September 20, Hurricane Maria hit the island of Puerto Rico.

“We got hit by two category 5 hurricanes in the span of two weeks,” Cordova said. “What we saw with Irma and Maria, I’ve never seen before. It was a total collapse of infrastructure.”

Córdova is HUD’s public housing director, based in San Juan, Puerto Rico. His office is responsible for overseeing public housing and Housing Choice Vouchers for 90,000 households, or about 200,000 individuals.

Córdova lives in San Juan, near the water, so he evacuated to stay at a family’s home farther inland. With his wife and their two dogs, they took with them provisions for a few days, like most families.

Also like most families, their evacuation home and the home they evacuated weathered the storm with some damage but not complete collapse. Many homes on the island are cinder block or concrete. As a direct result of the storm most families, including his own, experienced heavy flooding, wind damage to roofs, deforestation, and some serious damage to buildings not built to code.

After the storm passed, however, the bigger problems came. That was when the collapse of utilities services came, he said. Families quickly ran out of provisions and had to go in search for any open store, restaurant or community place for food and water. It was not easy.

“There was no power, no telecommunications, no water. One hundred percent of the island was not able to communicate. Not having power and water are bad. But the uncertainty, the anxiety of not knowing what is going on because you can’t communicate for weeks, the unknown about family, friends and the people that we serve, that was the worst.”

Córdova’s brother in Florida was the one who confirmed to him after a week that his mother in a different part of Puerto Rico was ok. It took him about two days to reach the HUD field office. He had to navigate fallen power posts, downed trees, and debris. Soon, other HUD staff started showing up. Their first steps were to assess the situation of HUD staff, and the families they serve.

Families were displaced, had no food, no water, no phones, no TV, no cable, no internet, no texts, and at night everything was pitch black, so he says there were major safety concerns. In the early days, when the Field Office was administratively closed, staff that came to volunteer with response efforts were encouraged to leave by 2 pm so they could be home before nightfall.  An AM radio station was the only source of information.

Running on adrenaline, HUD staff collaborated with FEMA, HHS, Puerto Rico officials, armed forces and many others to direct families to FEMA assistance first, and about 1 million people ultimately registered for FEMA assistance, Córdova said. At one point 12,000 people were in shelters across the island, Córdova said.

“The first thing you’d do when you saw someone was hug, ask how their home was, how their family was, cry if you needed to,” Córdova said. And then they’d get to work.

Most people in public housing sheltered in place, since the buildings are made of concrete, he said. But after the storm staff had to focus on what critical deficiencies public housing complexes faced, such as not having power for patients on dialysis. The crew worked with the Puerto Rico Department of Housing and Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) to assess how many public housing units and Section 8 housing units had been damaged by the storm, and how many were still livable. They then matched those with the families who had been displaced. Staff also quickly worked to assist families leaving the island of Puerto Rico to port their vouchers to cities stateside, currently at nearly 360 families.

Airdrops were used to deliver thousands of meals to families, and millions of gallons of water. Of the roughly 31,000 Section 8 vouchers Córdova’s team manages, at peak numbers about 380 families were displaced. Staff worked with local PHAs to assist in issuing relocation vouchers for families to find new housing. The Puerto Rico Public Housing administration also had approximately 1,000 public housing units available to house displaced families.

By mid-October, HUD sent more staff from headquarters to help manage the recovery. Today, about half of the island is still without power, and that recovery continues.

Córdova and his staff are now focused on the next step. He says some of the worst impacts felt by families came from lack of power, water, and telecommunications. Córdova said this signals it’s time to look at new and different ways of developing housing and leveraging funds to include not only building units, but also utilities infrastructure. Solutions might include Low Income Housing Tax Credits, Rental Assistance Demonstration projects, Choice Neighborhoods, mixed-use developments and Community Development Block Grants – Disaster Recovery funds.

“I always tell people our first name is Housing and our last name is Urban Development.” Córdova said. “How do we approach these two parts of our name on this island – and other jurisdictions – how do we rethink, bring together all those different tools, become resilient for the future.”

Puerto Rico’s Public Housing Director on Surviving the Storm and Planning for the Next One
Puerto Rico’s Public Housing Director on Surviving the Storm and Planning for the Next One