JMU Dining and HRHA Host Dinner in the Garden

After a brief rain shower cooled off the summer air, JMU Dining’s Chef James Routhier began his cooking demonstration: a summer meal that is cheap, easy, and uses vegetables and herbs growing right in the Kelley Street garden. On July 24, JMU Dining and HRHA hosted “Dinner in the Garden”, a chance to celebrate the Kelley Street garden and the people who have been involved throughout its development. A 2020 grant through JMU Dining and the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities made the garden possible. And after a community build day in April and a resident planting day in May, the garden is now in full swing. Central Shenandoah Valley Master Gardeners have been coming in multiple times per month to assist gardeners with weeding, staking plants, watering, harvesting, and more. Tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, eggplant, zucchini, and more are growing beautifully. Saturday’s Dinner in the Garden helped celebrate this community effort.

After Chef James’ demonstration, Harrison Heights residents and families, HRHA staff and board members, and community supporters shared a summer meal catered by JMU Dining and based on Chef’s earlier demonstration. It was an incredible evening of good food and community building. Kelley Street gardener and 6-year old resident Justice even made the front page of the Daily News Record. 

A huge thank you to Chef James, Emily, Ben, Brent, and the entire JMU Dining team for sponsoring this beautiful evening, and for supporting the garden from the beginning. Thank you!

HRHA Resident Justice waters plants in his garden box – July 24 2021 Photo by Daniel Lin of the Daily News Record

Residents, HRHA staff and board members, and community supporters share dinner – July 24 2021

HRHA resident Ronnie and JMU Dining’s Executive Chef James swap culinary successes – July 24 2021

Stakeholder Engagement Process Begins for MtW Agency-wide Changes

To apply for Moving to Work (MtW) designation, HRHA conducted initial outreach and engagement processes with residents, participants, and community agencies in Fall 2020. We presented a number of changes we were hoping to make to improve efficiencies, reduce burden on residents, participants, and staff, increase family self-sufficiency, and expand housing choice and stock. HRHA submitted our request and initial plan to HUD December 2020 and we received notice of acceptance January 2021. HRHA is one of the few housing authorities in the country to receive this designation and be granted the flexibilities that MtW allows.

As we work to refine our proposals, we continue gathering feedback from residents, participants, and community partners. There are many opportunities in the coming weeks and months to learn more about our changes and offer your insight and perspective. An entire calendar can be found on our MtW page and includes opportunities to join online focus groups, submit comments via a feedback form, or schedule a call with a member of our team. We hope you contribute your insight as we implement these major agency changes.

MtW designation is a huge opportunity for our agency to better serve our residents and participants through expanding housing opportunities, collaborating on self-sufficiency initiatives, reducing administrative burden, bringing in new landlords, supporting first time home buyers, and much more. We hope you join us in crafting programs and policy that best serve our community. Thank you!

 Moving to Work (MtW) Webpage

Resident Reflections on a Pandemic Year

As the pandemic moves into a second year we hold the hope for normalcy alongside the recognition that we are not past the loss, challenges, and need for caution. It has been quite a year, demanding changes that needed to be informed, fast, and flexible. As spring continues and our country ‘opens back up’, our work continues at a rapid pace. 

It has been quite a year for our residents and participants as well. While we have shared resident and participant perspectives throughout the pandemic, we invited a few to share their reflections on the last year and offer their words here.


“To learn in March 2020 that people would soon be sick and many would pass on was awful to hear. I learned I needed to be stronger, wiser, and more caring towards others. I learned a lot of new rules and really a new way of life. I learned that every day when I get out of bed I will have to make it count because tomorrow it never promised. My hardest challenge this year was learning my grandma had COVID. Even harder was learning I only had a little time left with the lady that had raised me and taught me everything. Sadly I did lose her in March of 2021 to COVID and pneumonia…I am hopeful my son and I will be better than ever because I know she is watching and guiding us all the way.” – Ashley G.

HRHA resident Sheila and her two sons at the Franklin Heights Community Clean Up Day. April 3, 2021

“In 2020, my biggest challenge was not working. COVID-19 is really scary. People dying, people I know dying, it’s really scary. Biggest challenge was also getting to know myself the past year, especially when we had the lockdown. Made you think about life a lot, goals, where you really want to be in life, and how to get things accomplished. It’s crazy how you were planning your future and then one big thing happens, and this time it happened to the whole world…I am looking forward to a healthy life, to accomplish the goals I have. I am also excited for my daughter to start college and also one day I want to be a home owner. I also had an opportunity to get another job this year so I’m grateful for it. Praying that the world will come in peace and there will be a solution for COVID-19. I thank God for everything I have. I’m glad for the help from FSS, knowing someone is there to help you reach your goals.” – Allonia A.

“I have learned many things this past year 2020…Since having to sit at home I have used this time to go back to college and trying to be able to open up a food truck business, praying by the end of this year. The hardest part of 2020 was not seeing my children in person. Thank God for video visits! I miss the big hugs and cooking together in the kitchen and sitting around talking and playing games. I do look forward to things changing soon and I can do all of that with my children and go to parks and Skyline Drive. They can even come and watch me graduate in the beginning of 2022. I am ready for life to happen again.– Ramona A.

HRHA’s Kelley Street Garden Launches with Community Build Day

Drills and saws whirled Saturday April 17 as community members, garden partners, HRHA staff and residents began building the Kelley Street Garden. The effort began in 2019, with funding coming initially from the Voluntary Gas Tax Group and then through a 2020 grant from JMU Dining and the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities. After some delays due to COVID-19, the HRHA team reconnected with community partners late 2020 to launch the garden program this year.

Volunteers build garden boxes, fill boxes with soil, and help with the Kelley Street garden April 17 during community build day

Volunteers build beds, lay landscape fabric, and move soil for the Kelley Street Garden Build Day April 17, 2021

The Kelley Street garden holds 11 raised beds available to residents living in HRHA’s Harrison Heights. Families have already begun signing up and a few attended the work day to help build the garden. Jones Garden Inc helped coordinate, plan, and oversee the build day. Throughout the summer, Central Shenandoah Valley Master Gardeners will be coming in regularly to offer hands on education and workshops around planting, growing, harvesting, and more.

HRHA will be putting a fence around the garden in the next few weeks and we will have a grand opening and planting day mid-May. Stay tuned!

We are incredibly grateful to the community partners who helped make this garden possible. They have donated time, funding, labor, expertise, materials, and more:

The Voluntary Gas Tax Group
JMU Dining
The Alliance for Strong Families and Communities
The Central Shenandoah Valley Master Gardeners Association 
Jones Garden Inc. 
J P Remodel and Design
Lowes of Harrisonburg 
Black Bear Composting
Soil Health Technologies
Neff Lumber 
Designs by Landon Heavener 

And thanks to WHSV for coming out to cover the event! 

JMU Students Hannah and Jordan shovel soil.

Volunteers dump compost/soil mix into beds









Volunteers of Jones Garden Inc assemble a raised bed.

Volunteers assemble raised beds.









Rebecca and Naomi of Jones Garden Inc along with HRHA resident Cherie spread wood chips for garden paths.

The Kelley Street Garden.

HRHA Welcomes New Staff Members

This month we welcomed two new members to the HRHA team. After spending some time with their predecessors (Emily and Laura) Kim and Anton took over their roles early March 2021. Please join us in welcoming them to our team and, in Anton’s case, to our community as well.

Kim Haines – Community Development and Grant Coordinator

Kim grew up in Winchester and, after much moving around the country, was determined to return to the Shenandoah Valley. She moved to Harrisonburg in 1999 with her husband Jay Hotchkiss. They have a son, Jack, a daughter, Carson, and two dogs. She taught high school in Kenya as a Peace Corps volunteer, has worked for many local nonprofits, and worked as a writer and editor, including for Virginia Business magazine. She currently serves on the board of Massanutten Regional Library and HHS Band Boosters.



Anton Overby – Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) Administrator 

Anton comes to the Shenandoah Valley by way of New Orleans where he managed and analyzed data for the Algiers Charter group of schools from 2015 to 2020. He is excited to be part of the HRHA team because it provides him the privilege to use his nerdy talents to promote social justice and wellness in his newfound community. Firmly believing that the power in data lies in the people and relationships it represents, he looks forward to contributing to projects that bridge the gap from spreadsheets to the actual streets. In his spare time he likes tinkering with different computer languages, hanging out with his cat (Omar Little), cheering on the Saints, and cooking. Anyone reading this can consider it a direct invitation to a homemade pot of gumbo — just tell him when, where and how many he’s cooking for.

Farewell Emily and Laura!

While we are saddened to say goodbye to two incredible members of the HRHA team this month, we are excited for their next steps as they leave our agency. Emily and Laura have both been recognized in our community for their work on affordable housing and homelessness. We wish them both the best as they move on from HRHA. They will be missed! 


Emily McCarty has served as the Community Development and Grants Coordinator for HRHA for the past four years. She has ensured funding is appropriately requested and distributed for multiple HRHA and community initiatives. She even served informally as the executive editor for the HRHA newsletter and team lead on a variety of HRHA projects.

I’ve worked with Emily for a number of years with the goal of using federal funding to make affordable housing more accessible in Harrisonburg. Emily has always been a pleasure to work with. She is thorough in her work, and has a genuine interest in helping those she works with and for. I’ll miss getting to work with her and I wish her all the best as she moves on from the HRHA.

-Kristin McCombe, Community Development Block Grant Coordinator, City of Harrisonburg

Laura Black has served as the Homeless Management Information Systems Administrator since 2014. She has been behind the collection, training, compliance and reporting of homeless data for the region and coordinated the yearly homeless census for HUD. She is a self-described “data fairy” and has helped many of us understand how data can change the world. 

“When the Winchester Rescue Mission first got involved with the CoC, Laura Black was there every step of the way with guidance and understanding with all my questions; and I had a lot. Her heart for assisting others is evident to all of those who interact with her. I have come to know Laura as a friend and know that she is going to bless the lives of those she will be helping in her next adventure.”

Vicki Culbreth, Winchester Rescue Mission


(CLOSED) HRHA is Hiring! Community Development and Grants Coordinator

Community Development and Grant Coordinator

Harrisonburg, VA 22803
Salary: $37,000.00 to $45,561.00 /year


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Position Description

Position Title: Community Development and Grant Coordinator

Reports To: Executive Director

Function: Provide administrative and project leadership in planning, developing, writing, and monitoring of the Authority’s grants, administrative plans, special projects, and community development initiatives. Activities include: directing and overseeing the Authority’s grant writing activities, grant coordination and grant operations, completing funding applications, ensures community development and grant activities meet all federal and state regulations, performs complex analysis of development projects, provides project management, program evaluation and reporting functions.

Duties and Responsibilities:

1. Ability to identify community needs and possible resources, develop comprehensive and concise applications for funding, monitor all of the Authority’s grants, and ensure all grant activities meet regulatory requirements. Knowledge of and experience in use of different online grant application systems needed.

2. Ability to work independently or in a team to analyze community development initiatives/projects, develops financials, budgets, and creates project action steps, and work schedules.

3. Knowledge and experience in interpreting complex federal regulations, state law and local ordinances in relationship to grant requirement and community development initiatives. Ability to multi-task, sequential activities, and guide grant sub-recipients on fund requirements.

4. Ability to analyze, evaluate, and write progress and summary reports, policies and procedures, and annual plans.

5. Ability to create and maintain effective relationships with other state, federal and local agencies, build local grant coalitions, and communicate effectively orally and written to a diverse population.

6. Completes other project as assigned.

(CLOSED) HRHA is Hiring! Data Specialist for HMIS (part-time)

Data Specialist

Harrisonburg, VA 22803
Salary: $16.00 to $20.00 /hour

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The Harrisonburg Redevelopment and Housing Authority is seeking a qualified applicant for the Western Virginia Continuum of Care Data Specialist. This position will assist in the coordination and implementation of ending homelessness best practices to create a collective impact on reducing homelessness in the communities served. This position will report to the Continuum of Care HMIS Coordinator.

The successful applicant must be able to work independently, work with a diverse population; effectively use homeless management information software and computer; apply federal, state, and local regulations; maintain confidentiality, and possess excellent written and communication skills. Experience with homelessness services, continuum of care and basic familiarity with affordable housing and service needs of the most vulnerable is preferred. Valid Virginia Drivers’ License is required.
The part time-data entry specialist will support HMIS (Homeless Management Information System) operations for the Western VA-513 Continuum of Care. This position will support the HMIS Coordinator to help review data for errors, correct errors, support licensed users (helpdesk), and inform agencies of errors that need correction. The Data Specialist will assist in training of existing users and new users. The Data Specialist will perform data manipulation via CSV and Excel data exports into various data tools.

Duties and Responsibilities:

· Use of HMIS system to generate program use and demographic reports

· Manipulation of data through Excel, Tableau, R or other data tools.

· Identify data quality issues with entry, exits, updates and referrals for follow up

· Assisting with other data reporting as needed (tasks and reports change seasonally)

Knowledge, Skill and Experience

· Intermediate to advanced Excel skills (Computer skill testing will be requested of candidates)

· Knowledge of homeless services or other comparable human service systems a plus

· Strong verbal and written communication skills

· Excellent computer aptitude and familiarity with the Microsoft Office Suite

Update from the Western VA CoC – Addressing Chronic Homelessness in our Region

A Continuum of Care (CoC) is a federal program that provides funds to nonprofit providers who seek to end homelessness. The Western Virginia CoC, which covers six counties and the cities of Harrisonburg and Winchester, is tasked with coordinating nonprofit partner agencies that support the needs of homeless individuals and families. These agencies offer services including street outreach, emergency shelter operations, prevention, rapid rehousing, permanent supportive housing, and the centralized housing intake hot line.Image listing all CoC Programs. Programs listed in news post.

With collaboration from Community Solutions, the CoC and partner agencies seek to make homelessness rare, brief, and non-reoccurring through a data-driven and community-wide approach and commitment. In July 2019, the CoC initiated monthly case conferencing focused on addressing the needs of those most vulnerable through a by-name list. The CoC housed 84 chronically homeless individuals and veterans in our community in 2020.

Many thanks to all the CoC’s regional partner agencies for the hard work and resiliency in a year like no other. The Western Virginia Continuum of Care continues to refine our community-based processes by working to clear structural and systemic barriers that lead to chronic homelessness. For more information, visit

14th Annual Giving Tree Underway

Every year, HRHA invites community support to ensure children of families in our Family Self-Sufficiency program receive gifts around the Holiday season. Every year, Harrisonburg and Rockingham County families, organizations, and groups step up to make that happen. The 14th annual Giving Tree initiative is now underway, with trees at the Valley Mall in Harrisonburg (beginning November 30) and Agora Downtown Market (beginning November 10). We are thrilled to work for the first time this year with our new partner Agora Downtown Market.

Giving Tree with donation box at Agora Downtown Market

Giving Tree at Agora Downtown Market

Want to share some joy this Holiday season? Simply pick an ornament from either Giving Tree. Each ornament has a child’s name, age, clothing size, and a few items they asked for this year. Purchase anything on their card (or a gift card) and return the gift(s) with the ornament back to the box at Agora, Valley Mall, or the HRHA office at 143 Reservoir St.

We are incredibly grateful for the community’s support of our families throughout the year. Special thanks to WHSV for covering the initiative and Valley Mall and Agora Downtown Market for hosting trees.

Gifts are given to parents and guardians in our Family Self-Sufficiency program to give to their children around the Christmas Holiday. Donations of gift cards are used to purchase gifts for names that may have not been taken, or as gifts for teenagers who may be harder to buy for.

We would appreciate all gifts returned to the boxes at Agora or Valley Mall, or our office on 143 Reservoir St, by December 13. Please include the ornament(s) with donated gifts so we can connect them with the right families!

Thank you!