(Left to right:Anne Jones, Housing Specialist and John Cerreto, Housing Cultivation Specialist)
HomeAgain is pleased to announce that John Cerreto recently accepted the position of Housing Cultivation Specialist .This is a new, community-based role within the organization that will focus on engaging Richmond’s housing providers.
This leadership position is unique in the ways that John will work to provide quality housing opportunities for clients across the Continuum of Care while promoting mixed income neighborhoods and finding housing for those in a housing crisis in low-poverty areas.
“I want to make a greater impact in advocating advocate for our community’s homeless population… My job is to get landlords on board with the idea. I have a professional, business plan to defeat the stigma of homeless tenants,” John said.
He quickly added, “The community has a social responsibility to take interest in the problems of those in need; we are only as strong as our most vulnerable citizens. That extra five minutes, that acceptance, that job offer, that referral… that apartment can truly change someone’s life.”
“This can be mutually beneficial for our clients and these landlords because of the economic advantage to expanding housing choices for everyone.”
At HomeAgain, John will work closely with Housing Specialist, Anne Jones who has been working to place clients in homes for the past two and half years. She explained, “It’s my job to help our program participants secure stable and decent housing. I also inspect those units before occupancy to make sure they are safe and ready to live in.”
On having an extra pair of hands in housing cultivation, Anne said “I am really looking forward to working with John to achieve this expansion. I have not been able to recruit the number and variety of landlords that I would like to, and I know there is an untapped market of property owners who would like to be part of this program, for both economic and community-care reasons.”
She went on to add, “I think John will be great at helping us reach more property managers, which means I will be able to offer our participants more housing choices.”
Before joining HomeAgain, John worked previously as a housing specialist at one of Virginia’s point of entries, moderating the homeless population in the tri-cities area. He believes that his experience in direct client contact has laid the groundwork for a true understanding of families’ and individuals’ needs.
John will share all resources and connections with partners in the continuum as HomeAgain plans to work with organizations that provide tenant education. Our clients will have the opportunity to learn skills like budget management, resident best practices, and ways to better understand lease agreements. With these skills, clients will become more attractive and knowledgeable tenants in the search for more housing providers.
As fair housing legislation becomes a more prominent issue nationwide, housing specialists are quite literally hitting the streets to raise awareness for clients. “It’s very rewarding and humbling work. I am excited to be in the mix of changing the way these companies, and our city, may view homelessness,” John said.
Anne agreed saying, “Our current housing market is too narrow. I would love to see our rapid re-housing program expand into a wider geographical area and into neighborhoods that offer increased opportunities for residents.”
“It’s a great chance to get out and build a network to help. I am ready to connect with the community on another level; there is a huge need for landlords and property managers to join in our efforts.”
When asked about his new position and hopes for working with HomeAgain, John explained “It’s nice to work with an agency that is completely dedicated to homeless services, especially one that serves such a wide array of clients with various needs. I truly believe HomeAgain has space for all walks of life and that we are leading in ending homelessness in our area. This is our community. The streets don’t discriminate against homeless individuals, and neither do we.”