Year 2013

HAC Honors Six Leaders for Rural Housing Work

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Contact: Dan Stern,, 202-842-8600

HAC Honors Six Leaders for Rural Housing Work

Washington, D.C., January 22, 2013 – Six distinguished individuals received awards from the Housing Assistance Council, recognizing their rural housing work at the local and national levels. The honors were presented at a ceremony at the 2012 National Rural Housing Conference in Washington, D.C.

Nominated by their peers and selected by HAC’s board of directors, four honorees received the Skip Jason Community Service Award, which recognizes individuals whose efforts have improved the housing conditions of the rural poor in their communities. It is named for Robert M. “Skip” Jason, a long‑time housing activist with considerable community experience, who died in 1982 while employed as HAC’s Government Services Director. This year’s awardees are:

  1. John David, Director, Southern Appalachian Labor School, West Virginia
  2. Owyne Gardner, Senior Training Specialist, Little Dixie Community Action Agency, Oklahoma
  3. Alfred Gold, Executive Director, Community Resources and Housing Development Corporation, Colorado
  4. Patty Griffiths, Housing Program Manager, Community Action Commission of Fayette County, Ohio

Service on the national level is recognized with the Clay Cochran/Art Collings Award for Distinguished Service in Housing for the Rural Poor. It honors individuals who have provided outstanding and enduring service, with national impact, for the betterment of housing conditions for the rural poor. It is named for the late Clay Cochran and the late Arthur Collings, pioneers in the rural housing movement that dedicated their lives to improving conditions for the rural poor. HAC presented this honor to:

  1. Shirley Sherrod, Founder, The Sherrod Institute, Georgia

The Henry B. González Award recognizes individuals who have contributed to the improvement of housing conditions for low-income rural Americans through elected office. This year HAC presented this award to:

  1. Hon. Barney Frank (D – MA), Fourth District

“HAC is proud to recognize with these outstanding people for their service and dedication to rural housing,” said Moises Loza, HAC’s executive director. “With these awards, HAC thanks not only these six wonderful people, but also many, many others who are dedicated to ensuring that everyone in the United States has a decent, safe, affordable home.”

Brief biographies of the awardees are attached and photos from the event are available on HAC’s Flickr feed.

About the Housing Assistance Council

A national nonprofit corporation headquartered in Washington, D.C., and founded in 1971, the Housing Assistance Council helps local organizations build affordable homes in rural America by providing below-market financing, technical assistance, research, training and information services. HAC’s programs focus on local solutions, empowerment of the poor, reduced dependency, and self-help strategies. HAC is an equal opportunity lender.



Henry B. Gonzalez Award

Hon. Barney Frank, U.S. House of Representatives, Massachusetts 4th district. Mr. Frank has served as a member of the House of Representatives since 1981 and previously was Administrative Assistant to former Congressman Michael Harrington and Executive Assistant to Boston Mayor Kevin White. Mr. Frank has focused on adjusting America’s spending priorities to provide more for important quality of life needs. In particular, he has focused on providing aid to local communities, and to building and preserving affordable rental housing for low income people. As Chair of the House Financial Services Committee from 2007 to 2010, he worked first with the Bush administration to deal with the crisis of 2008, and then with the Obama administration to adopt sweeping financial reforms aimed at preventing a recurrence of this crisis. He authored and led passage of the landmark Dodd-Frank act of 2010. He has also been a leader in the fight against unfair discrimination of various sorts.

Skip Jason Award

john_david_13John P. David, Director, Southern Appalachian Labor School, Kincaid, West Virginia. John David is a founder of the Southern Appalachian Labor School (SALS). Originally developed to bring educational programs to working people and labor unions, SALS now provides a wide variety of educational and training programs for youth and people of all ages. During the last decade, SALS has rehabilitated 180 homes, built 25 new homes, and repaired and weatherized over 1,000 homes. According to his staff, “John has never been able to pass on an opportunity to make his community, or the world, a better place for those lacking money, power, or education.”

owyne_gardner_13Owyne Gardner, T&MA Regional Manager, Little Dixie Community Action Agency, Hugo, Oklahoma. As a divorced mother of two small children, Owyne Gardner struggled for several years to provide for her family. In 1980, under a work program, she began her tenure at Little Dixie Community Action Agency. Thirty-two years later, she is one of the most well-respected self-help housing experts in the country. It was Owyne’s own road out of poverty that has led her to be a champion for housing the working poor. She assisted self-help housing programs in many states to build up from scratch. Her guidance of these new programs resulted in thousands of families realizing the American dream of home ownership.

al_gold_13Alfred Gold, Executive Director, Community Resources and Housing Development Corporation, Westminster, Colorado. Al Gold has a vision – everyone deserves to have a decent place to live. Al has been enacting this vision as the Executive Director of the Community resources Housing Development Corporation (CRHDC) since 1975. Through his guidance,CRHDC has developed farmworker housing and housing for seniors and the disabled, and started a self-help housing program for rural families. In addition to his work at CRHDC, Al has shared is vision by founding and participating in economic development organizations, housing partnerships, and leadership development programs that support this goal.

patty_griffiths_13Patty Griffiths, Housing Program Manager, Community Action Commission of Fayette County, Washington Court House, Ohio. Patty Griffiths began working at CAC of Fayette County (CAC) in 1992 to do pre-development activities for CAC’s self-help housing program. At that time, there only one self-help housing program in Ohio, and it was about to close. Patty overcame many obstacles to obtain the necessary operating support for the project. Since then, CAC has constructed more than 250 self-help homes, developed and implemented a homeownership program for low-income families, and used many funding sources and innovative options to carry out the agency’s housing mission.

Cochran/Collings Award

shirley_sherrod_13Shirley Sherrod, Founder, The Sherrod Institute, Albany, Georgia. Shirley Sherrod has dedicated herself for thirty years to social and economic justice for all Americans, especially low-income and minority farmers. Her work with the Southwest Georgia Project, the Federation of Southern Cooperatives, and USDA Rural Development gave her first-hand opportunities to make a difference in the lives of rural farmers through housing and community development programs. Shirley has raised awareness in diverse venues of the importance of working together to build a better world. She continues to draw attention to the building blocks of community development, including affordable housing, as she inspires people with her example.