Ithaca Neighborhood Housing Services (INHS) and Better Housing for Tompkins County (BHTC) have signed a formal affiliation agreement that will allow the two organizations to operate together to further their shared mission of enhancing housing opportunities. The intention for the two non-profits to form a strategic alliance was announced in late 2014. This announcement was the culmination of a months-long process in which both organizations engaged in extensive discussions about the goals and structure of a formal alliance. The result of these discussions was an agreement to make BHTC an affiliate of INHS. Affiliation is a structure that preserves both corporate entities, but makes BHTC a subsidiary of INHS. This arrangement preserves BHTC’s programs, contracts, and commitments while allowing both organizations to share resources and personnel.
“This agreement preserves the strengths of both organizations and creates a platform for enhanced housing programs,” says Michael Cannon, President of INHS. All former BHTC employees are now employees of INHS and duplicative programs have been combined into a structure that will provide services to an expanded geographic area. Internal functions such as shared software platforms and shared operational costs will streamline efforts considerably. The combined rental portfolio of 397 affordable units also creates a robust property management department.
Due to this affiliation and INHS’s expansion of homeownership programs to and area that includes Tompkins and its six surrounding counties, INHS is seeking to rebrand in the near future. Cannon said: “We are well-known as an Ithaca institution, and we will continue to do good work here in the city, but we view housing as a regional issue that is not confined by municipal boundaries. The housing needs of Central New York residents are just as severe in rural areas, but many places lack services from any organization.”
Greg May, formerly Chair of the BHTC Board and now on the INHS Board, and Vice President of Residential Mortgage Lending at Tompkins Trust Company, sees a real benefit to the affiliation. “Over the years, it became apparent to us at Better Housing that instead of drawing lines in the sand and saying to INHS, ‘you do affordable housing there, and we’ll do affordable housing here,’ that we really could benefit from combining forces for the good of all of Tompkins County – and beyond.”
Paul Mazzarella, Executive Director, adds: “I’m really happy with the outcome of our efforts. The board and staff from both organizations have embraced this change with an open mind and a genuine sense of excitement. We are working hard together to create operational efficiencies, and we’re all learning from each other. This will produce enormous opportunities to better address the need for affordable housing in many communities.”