WinnCompanies, a leading developer, owner, and manager of multifamily communities, has launched Connected Communities Foundation (CCF), a nonprofit dedicated to supporting opportunities and tracking outcomes for affordable housing residents across the country.

Connected Communities began in 2017 as an internal department offering robust resident services for Winn-owned and managed properties and has grown to be one of the nation’s largest providers of housing-based supportive services. Over the last five years, its team has doubled in size to serve more than 230 communities nationwide in 18 states and the District of Columbia, partnering with more than 3,000 service providers to connect residents with programs, services, and resources that deliver measurable, positive change in their quality of life.

Trevor Samios and Mai Dang
WinnCompanies Trevor Samios and Mai Dang

Having received Internal Revenue Service approval to become a nonprofit private operating foundation, CCF plans to expand its work beyond multifamily communities owned by WinnCompanies or managed by WinnResidential, and to pursue philanthropic support from foundations and tax-exempt donations from private, public, corporate, and individual supporters vested in the range of outcomes created by its work, announced the company.

“Our primary goal in creating Connected Communities seven years ago was to ensure we were providing meaningful support in dealing with social, educational, health, and economic challenges for our residents—in addition to providing quality homes to live in. Its work is more important today than ever, and we believe it will be even more successful as a foundation dedicated to developing and implementing collaborative strategies that change the lives of residents for the better,” said WinnCompanies CEO Gilbert Winn.

WinnCompanies senior vice president Trevor Samios, who has pioneered and refined the Connected Communities platform since its inception, will chair the CCF board of directors, while WinnResidential vice president Mai Dang will serve as the new foundation’s president and oversee CCF’s day-to-day operations.

“Affordable housing offers an incredible platform to support and realize the aspirations and goals of individuals and families working toward opportunity in the United States. This new vehicle for measurable, social impact will empower us to both deepen and expand our work nationally; scale proven programs and support networks with our partners; and increase our capacity to help families navigate through the barriers they face,” Samios said. “We could not have reached this milestone without the passion and hard work of Connected Communities’ 129 team members, our partners, and their unwavering belief in people.”

According to WinnCompanies, Connected Communities develops structured, shared goals with networks of local community partners and resident leaders; implements collaborative strategies, programs, and mutually reinforcing supports; and measures the outcomes of ongoing work in six categories: community engagement, economic mobility, education, employment, health, and housing stability.

Central to the approach is that team members, community leaders, and partners see and understand the impact of the work and allow for continuous learning and improvement. Key examples include:

· Housing Stability: Connected Communities has supported WinnCompanies’ Housing Stability Program, working with hundreds of clients and partners nationally to implement upstream eviction prevention tactics, pursue over $64 million in pandemic Emergency Rental Assistance, and prevent tens of thousands of evictions for families facing financial hardship;

· Economic Mobility: Since 2019, Connected Communities has supported nearly 400 families to enroll in the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Family Self Sufficiency program, providing a mechanism to build assets and improve financial wellness through one-on-one financial coaching paired with an innovative wealth-building account. Participants have accrued over $891,000 in savings through the program. In 2024, Connected Communities will expand this effort to 30 communities across multiple states, supporting 300 new families with a powerful economic mobility program. Today, 84% of families across Connected Communities’ supported portfolio self-identify as financially secure; and

· Health: Working with hospital systems, health centers, and community partners across the country to support individuals and families with stable health care, Connected Communities has ensured that 97% of families at properties supported have health insurance, and 95% of families regularly utilize primary care.

“CCF equips us with a powerful tool to increase our impact in the communities we serve,” Dang said. “With our dedicated team of coordinators across the country, working closely with families and partners each day, we’re able to develop services and interventions to address the distinct needs of families. By expanding our services and programs that bring about positive change, we’re committed to making a meaningful difference in the lives of the residents and communities we support.”

The nonprofit’s mission will be guided by a six-member founding board of directors comprised of banking, health, housing, philanthropic, and community development leaders: Dr. Megan Sandel, founding and director of Boston Medical Center’s Housing Initiative; Markita Morris-Louis, CEO of Compass Working Capital; Maria Barry, national executive for community development banking at Bank of America; Ted Chandler, senior managing director of strategic initiatives for the AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust; Jennifer Aronson, deputy vice president of the Boston Foundation; and Absalom Jordan, executive director of the Southern Hills Tenant Task Force.