Housing and Neighborhood Development Service (HANDS)


An actionable Strategic Plan will provide the roadmap for your organization.

HANDS logoThey may not be the stars of a hit TV show like Extreme Makeover, but the movers and shakers behind Erie’s Housing and Neighborhood Development Service (HANDS) have rehabbed, renovated, and in some cases built from the ground up more homes than you can count.

Since 1966, HANDS has grown to become one of northwestern Pennsylvania’s largest non-profit providers of affordable housing, with more than 900 apartment homes under management and a successful lease-to-purchase program that has made the dream of home ownership a reality for hundreds of low- to moderate-income families, senior citizens and the disabled.

When it came time to design a blueprint for the future, HANDS President and CEO Chuck Scalise turned to Decision Associates. Chuck knew that community revitalization was one of our core strengths, and that our team was perfectly suited to helping him identify his.

The desire to provide safe, attractive places for people to live is at the heart of all we do, explained Chuck, whose parents, Charlie and Kathy, founded the organization to help people displaced by urban renewal. Without stable housing, said Chuck, your other family issues can’t be addressed — you can’t deal with your mental health, your education, your kids or your job if you don’t know where you’re going to be sleeping tonight.

Chuck was initially interested in a Succession Plan for HANDS. But, after talking with Decision Associates, he realized, in his words, that this would be a little bit cart before the horse, because without a good strategic plan, and knowing where your business is going, who the kind of people are to be at the helm, etc., you need a strategy plan first so that when you do your Succession Plan, you know what the roadmap is.

Chuck understands he won’t be around to guide HANDS forever and that the need for their services will only increase. Sharing the organization’s vision and values with newer employees became an essential plank in the organization’s strategic plan. Decision Associates also helped Chuck and his board to identify competencies that will strengthen fiscal oversight in an increasingly complex housing market.

In the beginning, Decision Associates met with Chuck to help identify what was in his head about HANDS’ future. They customized the process to meet the needs of HANDS and some very specific goals that we had established. He also commented that he liked this approach as opposed to the cookie cutter textbook approach. At the end of the day, we will be even more successful because we have addressed these issues.

Our staff learned a lot about the organization by participating in the strategic planning meetings, said Chuck, They contributed their ideas and felt that they owned the process. Now we’re looking at ways to leverage our management experience, build new partnerships, and rescue other housing projects that could use our help.

Need someone to hold the ladder? You know where to find us.

"Our team has found that Decision Associates is willing to put the best interests of our clients and community above all else. We are proud to have DA as our partner...and look forward to continuing our association with such a class act."

~ Benjamin Rand, President
Insyte Consulting

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