The Better Housing Coalition, the Richmond region’s largest nonprofit community development corporation, creates high-quality homes for residents of modest means and empowers them with programs and tools to help them reach their fullest potential, at all stages of life.
They make it a priority to pay a living wage because they work with the working poor and they see how not being paid a living wage has impacts on health, education, and, of course, economic mobility. BHC wants to ensure that they are lifting up all of their employees, to be a model for employers and the communities with which they work. They believe in working hard, while having fun.
It was great to speak with the Better Housing Coalition’s President and CEO, Greta Harris, because it is evident how much she cares about her employees. “It’s all about the collective office and the team you build,” she says, “when employees feel valued, you get back in spades what you give.” Ms. Harris added that no business or organization can have success without a dedicated and determined staff.
In addition to paying living wages, the Better Housing Coalition also offers a robust retirement plan, which they offer because they want their employees to contribute and save for retirement, thorough employee reviews, and opportunities for professional development. The office has a “Living Our Values” Committee, which plans parties and other fun days for the staff. All of these things create an environment where the staff feel valued and empowered.
Greta Harris, President & CEO
When asked if she had any advice for other employers who want to pay their employees a living wage, Ms. Harris shared that she understands that every business is under stress. It is definitely not easy, particularly for non-profit organizations, to pay a living wage but it’s important to do what’s right, not what’s easy. Paying a living wage is an investment that has a great return. It requires discipline and planning but the return is more stable, loyal employees who are committed to the organization. Ms. Harris has seen how paying a living wage increases productivity and limits turnover.
There are lots of ways that people can get involved with the Better Housing Coalition. They have a variety of volunteer opportunities through HandsOn Greater Richmond for both individuals and groups. For those who are social media savvy, they are inviting individuals to become a Social Media Ambassador and share posts about their work. As a non-profit, they gladly accept donations to support their work as well.
In March 2018, the Better Housing Coalition was part of our first cohort of Living Wage Certified Employers at the Silver level. This summer, they applied and were approved to be re-certified as a Gold Certified Employer! Congratulations to the Better Housing Coalition for their commitment to their employees and for living up to their mission!