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Employees Jerry Morales and Clarissa Montenegro are also recognized for their efforts

Mike Foley, left, receives the Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara’s Community Partner of the Year Award on behalf of Casa Esperanza, of which he is executive director. Housing Authority employee Clarissa Montenegro was named Employee of the Year, and Jerry Morales was awarded the Stephen B. Logan Humanitarian of the Year Award. (Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara photo)

By Candice Tang | Published on 01.24.2011

The Casa Esperanza Homeless Center has been selected by the Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara staff as the recipient of its second annual Community Partner of the Year Award.

Housing Authority employee Jerry Morales was awarded the Stephen B. Logan Humanitarian of the Year Award, and Clarissa Montenegro was voted Employee of the Year.

Casa Esperanza was chosen as 2010 Community Partner of the Year for its tireless dedication to helping those most in need, its successful programs, and effective collaboration with the Housing Authority. The organization was recently presented a plaque for this honor.

The center is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and offers a wide array of services for the homeless, with an emphasis on both emotional and physical health. Twelve program partners, including the Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara, collaborate to bring recovery to the homeless.

The mission of the Casa Esperanza Homeless Center is to assist homeless individuals and families achieve self-sufficiency, by helping as many as possible access the services they need to transition to stable employment and housing.

In 2010, the Housing Authority placed 56 homeless individuals in permanent local housing in partnership with Casa Esperanza. Of the 56, 32 (57 percent) individuals were chronically homeless (living in a shelter or on the streets for the last year or experienced four episodes of homelessness in the past three years).

Morales was selected by his peers for his instrumental work in improving the lives of those in the community and for his passion for helping others both through his work at the Housing Authority and as a community volunteer. He is a leasing agent, responsible for coordinating all leasing and inspection aspects of the Housing Authority’s Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program.

Morales also serves as Parent-Teacher Association president for La Cumbre Junior High School and has helped the Latino community become more involved with the school.

Morales joined the Housing Authority staff in January 2010. He received a plaque with this honor, a $100 Joe’s Cafe gift certificate and a $200 donation to a charity of his choice. He chose to make the donation to the Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara to go toward the warming center efforts.

Montenegro is responsible for coordinating a variety of clerical and administrative tasks for the Resident Services Department. She is also the on-site apartment manager for El Patio Gardens, one of the Housing Authority’s complexes for seniors. Montenegro was selected by her peers for this honor through her true embodiment of the Housing Authority’s core values, the “5 Cs” — compassion, competency, communication, commitment and cooperation.

She is also described as being “the utmost professional, willing to go above and beyond to help and share her knowledge.”

Montenegro was hired by the Housing Authority in August 2008. She was awarded a $200 Paseo Nuevo gift certificate, special management cash prize, and admission to a Housing Authority-related conference of her choice.

Candice Tang is a publicist

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