Every quarter, TSAHC spotlights a staff member or partner to help our readers get to know our mission and industry a little better.
This week we interviewed Flynann Janisse, Executive Director of Rainbow Housing Assistance Corporation (Rainbow/RHAC), a non-profit that provides supportive services to residents of rental housing communities throughout the United States. These onsite services, which are often supplemented with innovative web-based programming, build community and promote self-sufficiency for residents.
TSAHC has been partnering with Rainbow to ensure service-enriched housing developments are available to Texans.
You have a phenomenal amount of experience working in housing. Can you tell us about how you got started in this industry?
I graduated high school at age 17 and, in an effort to live independently, I joined the workforce while attending junior college. At the time, my job in the housing industry offered a free apartment and utilities as part of the benefits package. It was a fantastic way to save money, go to school, and garner a skill set in an industry that was ever-changing, competitive, and far from dull. I worked tirelessly to stand out from the crowd with innovative approaches to resident retention and community building for the properties I managed.
Ultimately, I became invested in the concept of providing a valued place for people to live. From there, I advanced my career until I reached a space in the affordable housing market that truly embodied my vocation to serve the tenant population and solidified my personal (and professional) commitment to preserving affordable housing for the most vulnerable.
Rainbow Housing has established itself as a leading housing provider across the country. Will you tell us about the history of the organization and how it’s grown over time?
In 2002, Mr. Joseph Sherman founded Rainbow in order to advance social and economic change in affordable housing communities across the country. Through the ownership of affordable communities, he had become aware that his tenant population needed supportive services to be valuable contributors to the communities in which they lived. He knew creating connections to resources, employment, and education would be a catalyst to stabilizing the tenant base and, in turn, improving the financial performance of the asset.
We began instituting supportive programming in communities we owned and saw a significant shift in the reduction of crime and bad debt; an improvement in resident retention; and a decrease in vandalism, legal fees, and reletting fees! At that point, we began to shape our programming to meet the needs of communities across the country as a third-party service provider to owners, developers, investors, and management companies.
I know you all take pride in the resident services your non-profit offers. Can you tell us more about these services and why they are so important to accomplishing your mission?
The promotion of affordable housing through the construction of new developments and the preservation of existing affordable communities is in the best interest of every American. We believe the catalyst to a better future is the creation of pathways to success for those living in our communities. Rainbow’s mission is to connect tenants to opportunities that allow for advanced education, job readiness, improved life skills, financial literacy, and the capacity to become socially and economically self-sufficient.
Our programs allow for tenants to select programs and services which meet their immediate needs and long-term goals to provide for a healthy, financially stable lifestyle. In addition to onsite services, Rainbow provides web-based programming may be accessed 24/7 from any location where Internet-capable devices are available. Rainbow’s CORE programming includes; however, is not limited to:
||Life Emergency Management
||Workforce Development and Career Readiness
|Health and Nutrition
||Drug/Alcohol/Domestic Violence Prevention
|Move Men to Employment (MM2E)
||Case Management (Site Specific)
Is there anything you wish people knew about affordable, supportive housing and the work Rainbow Housing does?
That it’s necessary — and powerful! What we do offers significant opportunities to move low-income tenants into a space that allows for a healthy way of life. A life not compromised by the circumstances which came before them, but one that gives tenants the means to overcome and bridge any barriers to reaching their full potential. It provides them with the chance to capitalize on all the resources available to them, garner a better education, and, subsequently, a more financially secure future. A future like that is what we all want and need. Supportive housing is our way of investing in human capital.
Turning back to you – what’s your favorite thing about working in this industry?
Some 30 years ago, I learned from Dale Carnegie that the provision of housing is one of the most valuable things a person holds. We, as an industry, are privileged to offer such an asset to so many. I am grateful for the over 34 years I have been a part of it. It is an honor and a humbling experience to passionately support the housing industry and all who we serve.
Who is your professional role model, and why?
I have three who come easily to mind. My father, for his instilled work ethic and commitment to chasing excellence; Josh Allen, Sr. of J Allen Management Companies for his personal and professional integrity and his faith in the human spirit; and Joseph Sherman of Reliant Group Management for his wisdom, unwavering support, and guidance as an industry professional who committed to advancing the sustainable well-being of low-income housing.
Which professional accomplishments are you most proud of?
I AM RAINBOW! Rainbow is my greatest life’s work and I hope it continues to be through all the days of my life.
On the House blog posts are meant to provide general information on various housing-related issues, research and programs. We are not liable for any errors or inaccuracies in the information provided by blog sources. Furthermore, this blog is not legal advice and should not be used as a substitute for legal advice from a licensed professional attorney.