The Housing Opportunities Collaborative (HOC) started like many collaborative endeavors; an effort to bring various parties together around a shared interest in serving the public. In fact, efforts had been afoot for over a decade, mostly led by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), to bring organizations together around a more coordinated and holistic approach to community development and housing.
By 2005, those efforts became more formal, as a board of directors was formed, with representatives from government, non-profit, and the private sector. That body saw the need to form a separate and free-standing entity that could support the collaborative efforts of the various constituents, including forming a 501(c)(3) with a purpose of serving the public by bringing a variety of service and resource partners together around fair, decent, and affordable housing, homeownership, and consumer financial literacy.
Starting from small group of volunteer member organizations that donated office space including being a fiscal agent, the HOC grew to have 56 organizations in San Diego County as members, holding public events called HOME Clinics that brought member organizations and interested parties together, and served over 8,000 households struggling to afford a home and seeking assistance. Along the way the HOC became a HUD Approved Housing Counseling organization, and later the first collaborative to become a HUD Approved National Housing Counseling Intermediary, with a footprint that covers most of Southern California and two branches in Orange County and the Inland Empire of Riverside and San Bernardino Counties - an area with a total population equal to roughly 8% of the nation.
In 2013, the HOC launched a game-changing new technology in the industry; the Virtual Counselor Network (VCN), a new way for counselors and coaches to meet with clients on demand and using a virtual connection. For the public, this means a new, more useful, and often just-in-time service connection to trusted non-profit providers for housing, consumer finances, small business, employment and more. For providers this brings both efficiency in service while also broadening their reach and capacity to deliver their mission. The VCN grows to take on new shapes in new areas as time goes on, as partners and newly forming or merging branches of the HOC one on line across California and in other states across the country.
The Collaborative is on a path to have a national footprint as less formal collaboratives that have been formed around the US are merging into the HOC so that they have the footing of a well run non-profit upon which to achieve their local programming and collaborative work as determined by the local HOC Advisory Council in each area.