Charles Doud/The Madera Tribune
Madera City Council Member Charles Rigby will receive a state award.
Madera City Council Member Charles Rigby has been honored as Housing Commissioner of the Year by the Pacific Southwest Regional Council of the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Agencies.
He received the award for his work last year as chairman of the Madera Housing Authority, during which he helped convert the city’s Pomona Ranch migrant labor family housing project into temporary housing for homeless families.
The Housing Authority, funded mostly by federal money, in the past had closed up Pomona Ranch every winter, once the migrant families had moved out.
Housing Authority Executive Director Linda Shaw, helped by Rigby, developed an idea that Pomona Ranch, located on Avenue 12 near State Route 99, could be used to house homeless families during the winter, instead of lying idle.
Rigby, in his role as chairman, took on the task of engaging other agencies that help the homeless, rounding up everything from expertise to groceries.
“We had a 100 percent success rate,” Shaw told a joint meeting of the Housing Authority and its 501c3 nonprofit partners, Madera Opportunities for Resident Enrichment and Services, also known as M.O.R.E.S.
The City Council acts as the governing commission of the Housing Authority, and council members annually rotate in the role as chair of the authority.
This year’s chair is Council Member Will Oliver, who led Wednesday night’s annual joint meeting at the Bergon Center.
Shaw and Rigby said that running Pomona Ranch as a shelter for homeless families hadn’t been easy, but taught them a lot.
Residents who used the ranch, which includes some 25 residences (although not all of the residences were used), also had to follow rules, and that involved working with them to make sure they succeeded in shaking off the habits of homelessness.
“Every family who went through that program found a permanent place to live,” Shaw said.
Pomona Ranch is now being used to house migrant workers and their families.