Equity Efforts Recognized

OAME award presentationThe Oregon Association of Minority Entrepreneurs (OAME) honored Home Forward with the Chairman's Award of the Year at their May 9 trade show and luncheon.  The annual networking event brings together large and small businesses, government agencies, and business development and coaching resources.

OAME's highest honor recognized Home Forward's equity policies, high utilization of target businesses, extensive outreach efforts, and dedication to providing opportunities for a diverse and lower income workforce.  In making the award, Sam Brooks, OAME founder and chairman of the board, said, "While some organizations say it, Home Forward does it."

The agency's mission to provide housing assistance so people have stable homes from which they can move forward in their lives is "fundamentally about equity and economic opportunity," according to Steve Rudman, Home Forward executive director.

As an economic engine, the agency pursues equity in three ways.  First, it has a goal to award at least 20 percent of its business to minority-owned, women-owned or emerging small businesses.  Current participation is at 30 percent, with some projects turning in even better results.  Notably, the $52 million Stephens Creek Crossing HOPE VI redevelopment is on track to finish with more than 40 percent target business participation.

Workforce participation is a second area of focus.  "We set apprenticeship goals on major construction projects to give women and communities of color a chance to excel in a field that has been tough for them to enter," Rudman said.

Third, the agency has a strong commitment to providing opportunities for its residents and others in the community challenged by virtue of what they earn.  The practice starts at home. "Over the last five years, 58 percent of our new employees have been our residents, or have had incomes that would qualify them for our housing programs," Rudman said.  The agency sets goals for hiring individuals with lower incomes and contracting with businesses owned by individuals with lower incomes. 

"We couldn't achieve these results without OAME and its leadership or the many business partners who have supported our approach," he said, "With their help, we are able to continually improve our business practices so that we can meet our different equity goals."

Photo courtesy of OAME.  From left to right:  Jorge Guerra, president, OAME; Steve Rudman, executive director, Home Forward; Cinna'Mon Brannon-Williams, assistant director, contracting and equity, Home Forward; Sam Brooks, founder and chairman of the board, OAME. 


May 13, 2013