Not everyone is cut out to work in the public service sector. It’s a job that can have its perks, like personal satisfaction when a job is well done and change is made and created, but it has its foils as well. There can be miles of red tape to cut through and when there is a crisis, the burden of it falls on your shoulders and when there isn’t a crisis, there a million other tasks that affect millions of people and institutions on a daily basis. It is a job that you rarely get thanked for and often have to shoulder the blame for most of what goes wrong. But, when it has come to the Housing & Community Development Department in the City of Houston, Melody Barr has raised the bar and the roof on public service.
Housing & Community Development
Basically, what Melody Barr does within the Housing & Community Development Department is oversees all public services that are anything that would be outside of anything that is what is considered ‘bricks and sticks’. This would include child care programs, after school care programs, developmental programs for adults, employment training, educational programs, transportation systems for the homeless and partnerships within the different departments. She has overseen and worked on 16 different projects with non-profits within the city of Houston, and spread around about $18 million in order to make those projects happen.
Another aspect of what goes on within the Housing & Community Development Department that Melody oversees is strategic planning around the homeless. All the grants that are managed by Melody are currently there to help the homeless and the lower income residents of Houston, and it is her job within the department to look at the system and make it better for the people who are in need. Overall, Melody manages three federal grants, one State grant and the City general funds, and she takes this responsibility very seriously.
And, if that doesn’t sound like enough of a job description inside the Housing & Community Development Department, Melody also serves on work groups designed to implement a coordinated access system in Houston that are directly related to rapid rehousing, serves a a Board Member on the Ryan White Planning Council and is a member and Co-Chair of the Priorities and Allocations Committee to collaborate and streamline the funding for people who are infected or affected with the HIV or AIDS virus.
The RFP Process by Melody Barr
One of the issues that has always come up when it comes to dividing funds between deserving non-profits is who gets the funds and how much should each group get? They all need the funding. They are all worthwhile. They are all change makers. There didn’t seem to be a way to serve the most needed, so Melody Barr put those mechanisms into place by coming up with an RFP process that was fair to everyone.
RFP or request for proposal, is a solicitation, often made through a bidding process, by an agency or company interested in procurement of a commodity, service or valuable asset, to potential suppliers to submit business proposals. In this case, non-profits or agencies such as Capital Idea, HEART, SEARCH, Goodwill, Easter Seals and List will respond to an RFP that the Housing & Community Development Department has put out for a set amount of funds. The proposal will have to tell why their organization is in need of that money. The RFP is very deliberate in how those funds will be used, and the proposals submitted must adhere to certain criteria for consideration because there is a scoring mechanism that is set in place to judge each proposal, so it is not based on the organization, but the actual proposal that was submitted.
After the proposals have all been submitted, there is a black out period and then a team of four people review the applications. The applications are reviewed on a matrix and the scores are averaged. The higher the organization falls on the matrix, the more money they receive from the RFP offering. It goes down the list until the money runs out and not all organizations will get funded. There is also no guarantee that if you received grant money from the year before that you will receive it again. Melody feels that by putting this process into place it has ensured that those that need the money the most are getting what they need and she is making effective change for the community and this allows her to sleep well at night.
Why do we think Melody Barr is #JustVibing and a #Redfining VIP? She is raising the bar. She beat the odds and stayed in school as a 16-year old mom. She has worked her way up the ranks of public service and adores her job and is now at a place where she can create the job that she wants for herself and has the enthusiasm and drive to truly create change within the city of Houston. She IS creating change every. single. day. She exudes happy, satisfied, calm, in control and fabulous. She has it together and she rocks.
Melody’s favorite part of working at Housing & Community Development?
When I see the money hit the ground and I see the effective change that the money makes in the community.
One change Melody would make within Housing & Community Development?
I wish there less strings attached to funding, but some are necessary to protect the funding. The money needs to be protected to make sure it is intended to help the people it is supposed to help.
Final words from Melody about Housing & Community Development.
Our department does so much more than build apartments. We strive to develop communities and do some of the best projects.