Meet Scott Andrews-Weckerly, Senior Community Impact Officer
Why does the Community Foundation consider affordable housing to be a key area for investment?
Safe, stable, and affordable housing really is the foundation for everything we prioritize here at the Community Foundation: good health, quality education and workforce opportunities, and access to cultural enrichment. The research is clear that when housing is stable and affordable, the whole trajectory of people’s lives is better -- and frankly, investing in housing affordability early is less expensive and more efficient than trying to correct the traumatic effects of instability as people grow older. Our community is strongest when people can depend on housing that is safe, stable, and affordable, no matter their income.
Richmond Metropolitan Habitat for Humanity recognized the Community Foundation as one of its 2022 Community Partners at its Annual Meeting. The award was given in recognition of many years of discretionary and donor-directed support.
What parts of affordable housing are the Community Foundation focused on and why?
We use the visual aid of a continuum to guide our work in affordable housing. On one end of the spectrum is the investments we make in homelessness services and at the other is subsidized home ownership through organizations like local Habitat for Humanity affiliates and the Maggie Walker Community Land Trust. In between are programs and agencies that secure affordable housing for people making between 30 and 80% of the Area Median Income. Within each bracket on the continuum, we support eviction prevention efforts, housing stock production, and supportive services for people who are struggling with housing in one way or another.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Some of the most valuable assets we have here at the Community Foundation are the relationships we share with people and organizations throughout the region. So, a typical day sees me on a site visit to one of our grant-funded partners or on the phone or email staying updated on what’s going on in the housing arena. Then it’s a matter of connecting – organizations who may be natural partners with one another; agencies who are having trouble breaking through with decision makers; or donors who are keen to make a difference. I see my myself as someone who shines a bright light on the great work people are doing on the front lines and finding creative ways of supporting it.
What efforts do you see underway in the community that you are most excited about?Providing critical repairs that keep people in their homes safely is such an elegant solution to many problems. First, and most importantly, it helps homeowners maintain roots in neighborhoods where they’re used to living, and helps the neighborhoods maintain their historic character. Second, it’s an intervention that isn’t dependent on expensive land acquisition or homebuilding materials, and so it can be done relatively quickly and inexpensively. And third, investments in critical home repairs can often unlock public money for things like solar installation, which makes private dollars go further with an added benefit to the homeowner and environment. Our region is blessed with many organizations who perform home repairs as their primary or secondary line of work.
Also, I never miss an opportunity to lift up the extraordinary work of the Greater Richmond Continuum of Care and our area’s homelessness services providers. I’m inspired by the way those organizations put aside their individual interests and work together strategically and with care on behalf our region’s most vulnerable members, and, because I’ll always think of myself as a social worker first, my heart lies with sheltering agencies and the hardworking Richmond families they serve.
When you’re not at work, what do you enjoy doing?
My family jokes that my favorite thing to do is sit on a bench and people watch, and while that’s true, it speaks to a larger truth: I love learning about and understanding people – their passions and interests and the ways we’re similar and different from one another. When I’m feeling adventurous, that means taking long road trips around the country or making some of my famous barbecue and having people over. When I’m in the mood for something quieter, I love reading biographies – my two favorites are The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson and David McCollough’s magnum opus on Harry Truman, one of my heroes. In much the same way “the little guy” was at the center of Truman’s life and work, so too are they at the center of mine.