Wright State University alumna Amy Riegel was recently named executive director of the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio.
The coalition includes organizations and individuals committed to ending homelessness and to promoting decent, safe, fair, affordable housing for all.
Her first professional experience after receiving her bachelor’s degree was working in an alternative high school, Learning Opportunities Center, in Springfield, where she said that the students were mainly credit deficient, living in poverty, adjudicated and parenting.
“As I learned more about the students, I realized that there were many systemic barriers or inequities that made their success an uphill battle,” Riegel said. “It was here that I realized that I wanted to commit my career to uplifting the voices of those that are impacted by injustice and inequities and to facilitate system change so that everyone has the same chance at success. That position was the spark that has guided the rest of my career.”
Prior to accepting the position with the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio, Riegel served as senior director of housing for CareSource, a nonprofit managed care organization that serves over 2 million members receiving government-sponsored health care.
The position fell under CareSource’s Life Services Division, which helps to address the social determinants of health. These are all of the things that have a profound impact on well-being, but cannot be treated in a doctor’s office, such as education, economic stability, food insecurity and housing, Riegel said.
“My position was incredibly unique for the industry. I used my expertise in affordable housing programs and policy to help improve health outcomes,” she said.
Through her expertise in affordable housing programs and policy collaborative partnerships, she helped to address affordable housing issues and initiated and led the deployment of $50 million in strategic investments in affordable housing across multiple states.
She also launched and replicated Healthy Beginnings at Home, a nationally recognized research study looking at the relationship between housing stability and healthy birth outcomes.
All this paved the way for her new position with Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio.
Riegel said that Ohio is facing housing challenges like never before. Data from the National Low-Income Housing Coalition states that Ohio has a deficit of 254,000 units that are affordable for extremely low-income individuals. She pointed out that a person working full time must earn at least $16.60 per hour, nearly double the state minimum wage, to afford a two-bedroom apartment.
“These challenges are big, but we also have incredible opportunities to advocate for systems changes that will overcome homelessness and housing insecurity,” she said. “I’m excited for a future where every Ohioan has a safe, decent, affordable place to call home.”