Meet Independence Now’s 2022 Housing Hero Award Recipients!
Jaye Summerlot is the Coordinated Entry Program Manager with the Community Services Division of the Prince George’s County Department of Social Services. Jaye has been passionate about serving persons experiencing homelessness for more than two decades. Their work with the Prince George’s County Continuum of Care began in 2015 conducting Street Outreach across the county and eventually leading a team of three Outreach Navigators while running the county’s Coordinated Entry Program.
Independence Now met Jaye a number of years ago when serving consumers involved with both entities. Most recently in the fall of 2021, Prince George’s County received Emergency Housing Vouchers allocated for people who were currently or recently homeless, or at risk of homelessness. Jaye contacted Independence Now to see if we had consumers who fit these criteria and if we were willing to help with the application process. Of course, we never say no to a housing opportunity. Together with Jaye, we supported 18 homeless consumers to access vouchers and ultimately find housing units.
Jaye was our go-between in navigating the bureaucracy of housing vouchers. He helped us make the needed connections to get the work accomplished and circled back when there were paperwork issues or upcoming deadlines. We cannot express enough thanks for this opportunity to support our consumers in gaining housing and stability.
Jaye is happily married and the parent of three children and is active in a number of volunteer roles, including serving on the board of a national Lutheran anti-racism organization and on the congregation council at All Saints Lutheran Church in Bowie MD. When not working to end homelessness, racism, and discrimination against the LGBTQIA+ community, they enjoy watching video essays, 3D printing, and beekeeping.
Susan Smith has served as the Program Coordinator for Disability Services and Resource Services with the Housing Opportunities Commission (HOC) of Montgomery County since January 1996. In this capacity, Susan and the Disability Services Team assess program participants and refer them to appropriate community services. The Team also provides information to participants, HOC staff, and community providers. Susan is the HOC liaison for the County Commission on People with Disabilities and serves as a member of the County’s Mental Health Advisory Committee, in addition to a number of other local and State committees serving people with disabilities.
In Montgomery County, Susan Smith’s name is used synonymously with housing supports for people with disabilities! I don’t think there is a single Independence Now employee that does not know and work with Susan, who is our go-to for housing subsidies and vouchers for our consumers living in Montgomery County! Susan’s years of experience support hundred of housing subsidy recipients who are people with disabilities. We are always able to reach out to Susan and get support when we are working with people who have questions or barriers when accessing housing vouchers.
Susan not only supports local residents in their housing goals and needs but also teaches others about best practices in supporting the disability community in the housing arena. Susan has conducted staff training programs for agencies throughout the country on a variety of topics. Susan is a true leader in housing.
Susan has an MSW from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, with a focus on Social Planning. Susan works to help teach the next generation of social workers by serving as a Field Instructor for several graduate schools of Social Work, there is always an intern gaining Susan’s knowledge and experience.