MODESTO -- A Modesto nonprofit that faced closure nearly two years ago because of financial mismanagement has hired an executive director from the ranks of county government.
Aaron Farnon, who is Stanislaus County's community development manager, starts his new job with Community Housing and Shelter Services on Oct. 10.
"We are so excited and so fortunate," CHSS board president Kim Martinez said.
CHSS has about a half-dozen employees and helps people avoid becoming homeless. Last year, it provided motel vouchers for emergency shelter to nearly 400 families, rental assistance to 50 households and helped more than 130 families with security deposits. In all, CHSS helped more than 3,000 people, many of them children.
Farnon, 40, has worked eight years for the county. Before that, he worked for the Housing Authority of the County of Stanislaus for nearly five years. Friday is his last day with the county.
As the county's community development manager, Farnon manages the county's redevelopment programs, which include affordable housing projects and state and federal funding for affordable housing and community development.
Farnon said housing is his passion. He said one way to promote stable, productive and prosperous communities is by providing everyone with safe, affordable homes.
But he said doing that for the county is less certain now that California has abolished cities' and counties' redevelopment agencies.
Farnon will take a pay cut with his new job. He said he earns about $88,600 now and will earn $60,000 with CHSS.
"I'm grateful that I have a supportive wife who has been a teacher for Modesto City Schools for 14 years, so I have a bit of flexibility," he said.
Ready to 'work together'
Farnon was one of seven finalists interviewed for the job, said Martinez, the CHSS board president. Martinez said 30 to 40 people applied.
Farnon said Community Housing and Shelter Services, which has been in existence for about 30 years, once was one of the premier housing nonprofits in the county.
But CHSS faced financial difficulties in December 2010. It temporarily closed its doors over the holidays and reopened in January 2011, but without former Executive Director Karen Cosner, who had resigned.
CHSS officials have said the nonprofit fell on hard times in part because it lived beyond its means for at least two years and had failed to collect its full reimbursements from federal grants.
Community Housing and Shelter Services downsized, restructured and refocused on its core mission of helping people avoid becoming homeless. It also received help from a host of nonprofits and government agencies as it righted itself.
Farnon said he's excited for the opportunity to help CHSS grow and again become one of the top housing nonprofits in the area.
"On day one, I'll be reaching out to all of our partners," he said. "
I want to get into the nonprofit world and create partnerships. We all have a niche, but if we do a better job of working together, it will be a positive for everyone."
Bee staff writer Kevin Valine can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2316.