Counselor, administrator, marketer, program assistant, contract manager, historian, technology guru, bookkeeper, and accountant. She is the jack of all trades. Sadly, she is retiring. We are so excited for her and all the adventures she will embark on after her time here at HOME, Inc.
In 1979, HOME, Inc. was the only non-profit housing agency that provided counseling. Kathy Hanika was hired as a housing counselor on January 2nd of 1979, after completing a non-paid week of training on the new Iowa Residential Landlord Tenant Act which became effective that same day. The new law changed the way HOME, Inc. approached rental housing counseling. Kathy wrote the first landlord/tenant rights and responsibilities handbook. Our subsequent handbooks, which have been distributed to thousands of people, are rooted in that first book. Kathy’s efforts and that handbook changed HOME, Inc. from a tenant rights organization to a more neutral housing counseling and education service, which is known as the Community Housing Services Program.
Kathy mastered landlord/tenant law and was able to train other staff members. As additional housing counselors were hired, Kathy took on administrative functions to strengthen and move the program forward. She created statistical reporting methods for tracking phone calls and clients, a time log to record hours of service, and developed counseling policies and procedures. The program became more effective and respected serving upwards of 5,000 callers annually. Kathy also created the Rental Directory Services which educated tenants in need of housing and matched them with units of landlords that had rental housing occupancy certificates.
Kathy strongly believed that HOME, Inc. needed to serve and educate both tenants and landlords. As a result, public education and outreach became a vital part of HOME, Inc. As our original graphic designer, Kathy created our newsletter: Rental Directions for Landlords. For tenants, we created a number of easy to understand, step by step brochures based on the situations/problems that our clients encountered daily
Sometime in the 1980s, Kathy was asked to become HOME, Inc.’s “Program Assistant” with a job description that included everything: contract reporting, office management, booking and accounting, marketing, promotion and entering the “data era.” Kathy donated, set up, and wheeled around our first computer —- her old Commodore 64. She then applied for funding for a new computer, which couldn’t match the power or ability of today’s smartphones. Kathy worked to computerize every piece of data and every system she could. Over the years, she has been in charge of developing statistical reports, tracking client demographics and outcomes. She trained all the staff on how to use technology to help them succeed and set up the network to assist them. She also implemented the call routing system which is vital for the counseling department today.
A big part of Kathy’s career has been devoted to figuring out what we did, who we helped, and documenting how much it cost so we could so we could continue our mission, as she put it “ helping people get and keep housing”. Kathy has often times had the overlooked and thankless jobs working behind the scenes. Yet, she has been part of the foundation that has held HOME, Inc. together for 50 years and counting.
Thank you, Kathy, for your dedicated service and hard work during your time at HOME, Inc. We are so grateful for the work you have done to create housing opportunities.