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Joseph Sluszka

Albany Housing Coalition Inc.
Purpose Prize Fellow 2013

Sluszka transformed a struggling nonprofit into a robust organization solving veterans’ homelessness.

With 14 years of experience at the helm of a community grassroots housing organization in upstate New York, Joseph Sluszka knew the importance of having a roof over one’s head, regardless of income. He was also skilled in financial management from his years in the real estate and home repair industries.

That’s why in 2004 he began an encore career with a higher purpose: helping end veterans’ homelessness leading the Albany Housing Coalition, which provides at least 50 homeless veterans a day with emergency shelter, transitional housing, affordable rentals and permanent homes.

At the time, the nonprofit was facing bankruptcy and dissolution. Though “homelessness was new to me, and homeless veterans a whole world apart,” he says, “I knew that an outsider brings new perspective to old ways of doing things.”

Within six months, he had financially stabilized AHC. Today the organization has triple the operational budget it once had. Under his leadership, the nonprofit created innovative housing, employment, and legal services programs that are veteran-centered and peer-led. Several programs are recognized as national best practices and have been modeled by other agencies in other states.

Last year 500+ vets used AHC’s services. “Over the years a number of veterans we have assisted have made a point to come to me to tell me that I saved their life,” he says of his encore career. “It humbles me and at the same time makes me proud of what my staff does each day.”