Type of Practice: Learner Transition
Program Area(s): CTE / Workforce Prep / Pre-apprenticeship
Region: San Diego - Imperial
Consortia Involved: Coastal North County Adult Education Consortium
In Spring 2021, the San Diego Housing Federation approached all San Diego area community colleges with a request and proposal to address a problem in the San Diego affordable housing industry. They were looking to partner with a college to develop a series of classes that would train and prepare future property managers specifically in the area of affordable housing.. The Federation argued there was dire need for not only more applicants into this specific field, but a more diverse pool of applicants. The Federation noted that most current property managers in the affordable housing industry rise up through the ranks of the companies they are hired into, often beginning as leasing agents. These property managers gain on-the-job training, but this can be ad-hoc and subjective. The Federation envisioned a uniform curriculum for people to prepare for property management in affordable housing, which itself was a niche within the industry, leading even fewer current professionals to pass down that training to new applicants/managers.
With data provided by the Centers for Excellence of the labor market needs for property managers in San Diego county, the faculty and Dean in Continuing Education at MiraCosta decided to partner with the San Diego Housing Federation to develop these courses that would lead to a new noncredit CDCP-eligible Certificate of Completion. In Summer 2021 the Short Term Vocational programs Department Chair worked in collaboration with a San Diego Housing Federation Board member (and current Vice President at a major property management company) to develop two courses: Introduction to Affordable Housing Management and Emerging Leaders in Affordable Housing Management. Ideally, the classes will consist of a cohort of students that enroll into both courses back-to-back, creating a sense of community and ensuring consistency with mentorship. Largely, this has been the case. In these courses, learners are exposed to everything from state and federal housing policies and laws, to day-to-day practices in dealing with residents. The courses themselves offer both theoretical methods and practical knowledge that graduates will apply.
While both the Housing Federation and MiraCosta anticipated needing to recruit students into this new program, student outreach events turned out to be unnecessary. In May 2022, ahead of Fall 2022 registration, the San Diego Housing Federation and MiraCosta crafted similar and coordinated press releases announcing the launch of the program; these were picked up immediately by multiple local news outlets. The public response to this new program was overwhelmingly positive, and the four scheduled classes (two initial cohorts) that launched in Fall 2022 filled quickly and long before classes began.
In the year since the program launched, the classes have remained popular and enrollments consistently strong. We are also seeing a very diverse pool of learners, which was the original goal of the program. In Fall 2022, for instance, 11% of learners were African American, which far exceeded the college’s average of 2-3%. 43% of enrollments were learners who identified as Hispanic. Finally, 44% of learners were brand new to MiraCosta College. We will continue to examine our demographics annually so that we can determine the overall response from the diverse populations in our community.
One of the most unique features of the program is the consistent and meaningful partnership with their industry partner, the San Diego Housing Federation, to support students in the following ways:
The Housing Federations recruits mentors from all areas of the housing industry for the program and refers them to MiraCosta College to serve as volunteers for each cohort of learners.
Every learner is partnered with a mentor from the housing industry for the duration of the program. Learners work individually with their mentors to discuss job search strategies, complete site visits, and gain ongoing advice during and beyond their enrollment
MiraCosta College employs a current Regional Portfolio Manager at a major property management company as the main instructor for all courses. His ongoing real-world experiences are shared with the class, and his teaching examples and assignments are relevant and current.
All learners are supported by MiraCosta’s robust Career Services center and staff, who assist students with job searches, preparing resumes for job applications, mock interviews, and professional headshots.
Graduates of the Affordable Housing Management program are given a one-year professional membership in the San Diego Housing Federation, which allows them to participate fully in conferences, workshops, training, and other networking opportunities that will deepen their knowledge and connections in the industry.
This program is relatively new, as it launched in Fall 2022 and offered courses in that semester as well as Spring 2023. In this short amount of time we have seen 47 learners successfully complete both courses, making them eligible for CDCP Certificates of Completion. Learners who complete this certificate are encouraged to apply for positions with a local staffing agency, Phoenix Staffing, that serves the housing industry. This agency has a nearly 100% placement rate, and our certificate-earners are highly desired. In Spring 2023, a graduate of our Affordable Housing Management program was offered a leasing agent position at a local multi-family complex. After just two weeks she was promoted to Community Manager.
Additionally, the Department Chair and Director of Adult Education applied for and were awarded a Strong Workforce Grant of $75,000 to fund the tuition for 40 Affordable Housing Management certificate-earners to attend three Community Education courses at MiraCosta’s Technology and Career Institute to prepare them for their Real Estate License exams. Learners who earn both certificates become more prepared to enter management positions in the housing industry, as well as more desirable to employers. In the first semester of offering this opportunity, 9 students have completed both certificates. The funding for this additional opportunity will run through Spring 2024, with the goal of serving 30 more Affordable Housing Management certificate earners.