Sharon Wilson Geno


Marrying Healthcare and Housing

Ep. 23 - Sharon Wilson Geno's passion is to link housing and healthcare. From a "people" point of view, both are needed but aren't always linked together in federal policy.

Top Takeaways:

    • The changing of the housing policy brought about by the emergence of the private sector
    • Working with senior citizens in public housing
    • Bringing healthcare experience into the housing model especially to the senior population
    • The impact of the student loan debt in housing affordability for young people

Listen in to learn how the healthcare sector is now moving in the direction of housing as a way to save a coin.

"You've got to be passionate about what you do and then figure out how much money you need, and get sized by your level of passion for the one thing you pursue."

When she was fresh out of law school, she tried working for a firm and realized it wasn't fulfilling her passion. So she changed course, earning a graduate degree in urban studies and went to then went to work at shaping housing policy in her native St. Louis. For nearly twenty-five years, Sharon has been dedicated to advising non-profit, for profit and governmental clients across the country on affordable housing and community development issues in a variety of contexts. Sharon Wilson Géno is the Executive Vice President of National Services and Chief Operating Officer at Volunteers of America, Inc., one of the nation's largest non-profit affordable housing developers, ranked by Affordable Housing Finance as #5 of the top 50 affordable housing developers of 2019.

In this role, Sharon leads the operations of the National Services work with the National Services Board of Directors and helps position the organization as it looks for new healthcare and housing opportunities. Prior to this role, Sharon was the Senior Vice President of Legal Affairs, where she provided advice and counsel to the organization on a wide variety of legal matters, including housing operations and housing development issues.

In discussing her journey, she details the patience and persistence in a major housing development around Washington, DC's National Park region, a neighborhood she lives that's been transformed through smart housing goals and investments. Geno discusses what it takes to keep projects moving each day and ongoing growth areas in housing policy. She talks about the concept of the Moving to Work (MTW) program and the consequences agency limitation has had.

Listen to find out why you have to be passionate in what you do.

Key Moments:

She talks about her career working in the public housing sector [3:33]

She explains the Moving to Work program concept- what it meant and accomplished in the public housing sector [6:18]

The consequences of the limitations of MTW agencies in the long run [10:17]

How consolidation of smaller agencies and housing authorities working together can provide benefits that are enjoyed by bigger agencies [12:29]

How the advent of money from the private sector has changed the housing policy [14:29]

Sharon defines the intent of the RAD program and its shortcomings [15:30]

She talks about her role at the Volunteers of America [17:41]

How the healthcare system is moving in the direction of housing in the bid to save money [21:08]

What is her biggest success story [23:20]

She describes her challenge as the dynamic of change since she's an impatient person [24:17]

What is the difference between subsidized and affordable housing and how has it changed over the years [26:04]

Why young people are unable to afford houses today [28:21]

Can education be valued to ensure less burden from student loans [29:51]

Why you need to be passionate about what you do [31:46]


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