Keene Housing (KH) was established in July 1965, with a mission to fill the need for “safe, sanitary dwelling accommodations for the elderly and persons of low-income in Keene.”
Since then, KH has played a vital role in promoting a stronger Monadnock region by providing housing assistance to the community’s vulnerable and low-income populations. KH believes that the best way to help households is by providing them the tools and resources needed to change their life.
Three guiding principles to inform how we approach our work:
Support KH-assisted households in their efforts to achieve financial security by offering a variety of housing options, programs, and services to provide assistance that is individualized to a household’s unique needs.
Create a spirit of collaboration which links KH, KH-assisted households, local organizations, and the public into a healthier, more resilient, more supportive community.
Provide residents the supports needed to take control of their life and attain the goals they set for themselves – whether that is moving beyond public assistance or having a safe, affordable home to age in place.
OUR COMMITMENT TO GOING ABOVE AND BEYOND PROVIDING AFFORDABLE
HOUSING HAS CONTINUALLY SET US APART FROM OTHER PUBLIC HOUSING AUTHORITIES.
What’s in a Name?
ITS ABOUT ADVOCACY NOT AUTHORITY
Early in 2013, we began the process of taking a long, hard look at who we are as an organization and where we see ourselves heading in the years ahead. What we realized was that, with the exception of the powers granted to us by the state and city, and perhaps with the exception of the Mainstream and Non Elderly Disabled programs that we administer, we bear very little resemblance to a traditional housing authority. We no longer own or manage a single unit of public housing; thanks to MTW our Housing Choice Voucher program is virtually unrecognizable to those who’ve only known HUD’s traditional model; self-sufficiency and resident services are central, not subordinate to our operational goals; and while project based vouchers are essential to its ongoing viability, relatively little of our portfolio is HUD financed. With the realization that we are not what the U.S. Congress envisioned in1937 when the Housing Act was passed, nor what the New Hampshire legislature envisioned in 1941 when it passed the Housing Authorities Law, we were free to think more deeply about what we should call ourselves and why.
Through the spring of 2013 the Board of Commissioners and staff spent time picking apart, and carefully considering each word in our name. “Keene”. “Housing”. “Authority.” The associations we attach to words, and the assumptions they lead us to, impact our interactions with the people and objects in our lives. The Board and staff agreed that “Keene” and “Housing” were important parts of our identity. We are headquartered in Keene. It was the City of Keene that created us in 1965 and our Mayor appoints our Board of Commissioners. While we do much more than simply provide housing, developing, owning and managing a portfolio of affordable developments is what we do best, and our properties are the hub of our resident self-reliance and children’s programming.
Just as there was unanimity among the Board and staff over the appropriateness of “Keene” and “Housing” in our name, there was universal uneasiness about the word “Authority”. “Authority” conveys a sense of power over another, unilateral decision-making and bureaucracy. The word, particularly in the context of an organization delivering services to traditionally disenfranchised populations, suggests a power structure that consumers need to navigate rather an organization that serves and advocates for them. The word puts us in a role disconnected from, rather than partners in, our residents’ lives.
As evidenced by our program designs dating back to our first year in MTW, and consistent with our community’s expectations of us, we see ourselves as advocates for our families, not authorities over them. Our job is to facilitate not dictate and we want this to come through in everything we do. Taking all of these things into consideration, and after a great deal of thoughtful deliberation, the Board of Commissioners resolved to change our name from Keene Housing Authority to simply Keene Housing at their May, 2013 Board meeting.
The name change does not signify any diminution or modification of our legal powers or status, but instead memorializes our commitment to service and innovation. We are here to help our region’s low-income families, elders and disabled individuals live and thrive in vibrant, high quality, affordable housing. We accomplish this through forward-thinking program design, strategic partnerships, thoughtful development and most of all intellectual curiosity and an unwavering dedication to our mission.