The Nampa Housing Authority provides affordable housing, managing nearly 150 rental units, but it aims to be much more.
Its leaders also want to help people be healthy, active and successful.
“If all we were going to do was provide a roof over someone’s head, then we do an excellent job of that,” executive director Andy Rodriguez said. “But we recognize that it’s not just the roof over the head that’s important — although that is the very first thing we believe is needed towards health.”
On top of their landlord responsibilities, Rodriguez and his team host a variety of health and fitness classes for residents, focusing on addressing obesity and diabetes. The programs are funded in part by a St. Luke’s Community Health Improvement Fund (CHIF) grant.
“When we were awarded the CHIF grant, the goal was to bring awareness of overall health to the community — not only physical, but mental health,” resident services supervisor Eva Aguilar said.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic struck Idaho, the Nampa Housing Authority held large outdoor fitness events, some in a parking lot that included resource tables hosted by other nonprofit organizations.
The team has shifted much of its programming to virtual formats, while still hosting some limited, in-person classes that follow health protocols.
“A lot of the folks that we help may live alone or may be elderly,” service coordinator Rosie Lopez said. “We’re doing things to help with their mental health, getting them out of their house. We have had a lot of turnout, both in-person and virtually.”
The free events and programs are offered to not only Nampa Housing Authority tenants, but also the community at large.
“One thing that I’ve always had as a philosophy for our organization is: ‘Anything we do for one, we can do for all,’” Rodriguez said.
Additional programming has included skin care classes and healthy cooking demonstrations. The team has received encouraging responses from many attendees.
“With the CHIF grant, we were able to put into place activities for the entire community,” Aguilar said. “The focus of some of the activities was to build self-esteem to bring respect to themselves and to elevate kindness, so people would feel more connected, more respected and more valued.”
For its health-focused programming, the Nampa Housing Authority recently received the prestigious National Award of Excellence from the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials.
The team will be featured in a nationwide publication, and, as Rodriguez pointed out, hopefully inspire fellow housing officials in other cities to integrate health-focused opportunities for residents and community members.
“To us, it was a big deal to get the Award of Excellence,” Rodriguez said. “It’s really based on the work of Eva and Rosie, to have a vision and to be able to run with an idea and take off with it.”
Daniel Mediate works in the St. Luke’s Community Engagement department.