Journal:

Dear Housing, I’d Like You to Meet Jessica

January 13, 2016

Economic development just promoted one of our brightest to help us tackle one of our most pressing needs: housing.

This news is important because we all know that housing is a challenge in our community. More specifically, the housing efforts in Economic Development have been constrained since the reduction of housing funds in 2005 and resulting staffing cuts brought our housing team of four down to two. Now, 10 years later, with the same reduced two-person staff and a huge backlog of monitoring and reporting (imagine years’ worth of backlogged cases piling sky high!), the need for additional qualified and skilled help was more apparent than ever.

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Housing Team: Carol Berg, Jessica Mellor, & Norm Daly

Enter the newly created position of HUD and Housing Programs Specialist, the newest addition to the housing team. Stepping into this much needed role is Jessica Mellor. Jessica will be responsible for a variety of tasks including keeping records and properly managing files – a task crucial to sustaining the funds that the city receives each year. Additionally, Jessica will take on the monitoring of affordable housing units -we are talking 100's of units to track for compliance each year. Jessica will not only provide much needed support to the housing program through her monitoring efforts, but will also help to relieve the pressure on our highly skilled housing staff, allowing them to use their experience and skills to tackle larger projects and issues.

The HUD and Housing Program Specialist is a much needed role, and will greatly increase the capacity of our housing team, allowing us to pursue more housing projects and programs. We are very excited to have Jessica in this new role. As we are planning for the future, it is important to bring in new talented individuals. — Bonnie Lipscomb, Executive Director

Jessica graduated from UCSC with a BA in Anthropology, and shortly after graduating began volunteering at the Exploration Center, which, fun fact, was one of the things that made her stand out as a candidate for her role as an Administrative Assistant with the City. Jessica spent three years in an Administrative position in the Economic Development Department. She started off doing basic administrative tasks, but as the years went on she was given more and more projects to manage and administer, including the Graffiti Abatement Program, Open Counter support, monitoring of the Space Available lists, and eventually assisting with some housing filing and recording keeping. Her attention to detail, accuracy, and her natural customer service and communications skills made her a real asset in the administrative role, and make her an ideal fit for the role of HUD and Housing Programs Specialist.

There are an endless number of things to learn in the world of housing, and I am really excited to be jumping into a position that will give me an opportunity to continuously learn new things. I am also really excited about the City’s long term housing goals, working to meet these goals, and coming up with new creative ways to achieve them. It is also really nice to think that I will be able to have an impact on the community that I grew up in and that I will be able to help to create more housing for the people that live here — Jessica Mellor

With Jessica onboard the Housing Team is jumping right into 2016, with a list of projects in the works:

  • Water Street: There is a housing project in the development stages planned on Water Street. On Tuesday, January 13, 2016 the City Council unanimously supported the approval of an additional $1.3 million to expand the size of the project from the original 21 units to up to 50 units, 100% of which will be affordable.
  • Jesse Street: A project is planned at the current site of a City housing project that was completed back in 2002. The current project will almost double the number of housing units on this site, which primarily serves psychiatrically disabled members of our community.
  • Metro Pacific Station: This project will most likely include a mix of housing and retail in addition to the Metro station facilities.
  • Senior ADU (Accessory Dwelling Unit) program: Finally, the City will be launching the “My House, My Home” Senior ADU program this year. Partnering with Habitat for Humanity and Senior Network Services, this is the first program of its kind anywhere in the US, and has the very real potential to be duplicated nationally and greatly benefit seniors in our community.

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