A member of Team YWCA received an inaugural county honor this spring. Toni Morgan, vice president of operations at YWCA Dayton, was recognized with the Montgomery County Homeless Solutions Policy Board Homeless Solutionary Award at the March meeting of the Continuum of Care.
A “Homeless Solutionary” is as a person who is motivated by compassion and social justice to use creativity, critical thinking and collaboration to end homelessness, its root causes and interconnected problems. The work of a homeless solutionary is informed by the realities of the inequities within the housing and homeless services systems and the urgency to transform situations by listening and responding to the needs of others.
“I would like to thank the Homeless Solutions Policy Board for this recognition. I am honored to be included in such an amazing group of people,” Morgan said during the award ceremony. “I have had a hard time wrapping my head around being recognized for simply doing what we are supposed to do, so for me the real winners are our friends and neighbors that need us the most. When I look around, I see an entire room full of people dedicated to ending homelessness in our community and that’s powerful.”
Morgan has more than 15 years of experience providing services to those experiencing homelessness while working tirelessly to educate our community in ending this epidemic, with a focus on rural communities in Montgomery and Preble counties. Previously, Toni managed the Preble County cold shelter and served as program coordinator and homeless services manager for the HIT (Home is the) Foundation and executive director of the Preble County Habitat for Humanity. In 2021, she joined YWCA Dayton, which provides the only domestic violence shelters in Montgomery and Preble counties as well as four housing programs for women and families recovering from abuse and chronic homelessness.
“I’m lucky,” Morgan said. “For 16 years I have been allowed to combine my life experience and work ethic to build a career that gives me purpose. Last year I came full circle when I joined the YWCA team, and now my circle is complete. I have said this before, but I really do have the best job in the world. I get paid to love on people and with this award, I am encouraged and excited to see what this collaborative effort does next.”
Within her first three months at YW, Morgan had a profound impact on YW’s housing programs and operations. She increased permanent supportive housing occupancy to 98% for the first time in at least five years, fully staffed the department, assisted with a reorganization to increase efficiency and crisis service response, and implemented multiple protocols and procedures to strengthen staff expertise, ensure industry compliance, and expand crisis services response and data reporting.
She holds a Professional Certificate in Homeownership and Community Lending and is a Certified Homebuyer Education Facilitator with NeighborWorks. She is also a Certified Specialist of Occupancy and Housing through the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO) and is a Certified HOME Program Specialist through Housing and Urban Development (HUD). For her efforts, Morgan was named 2016 Citizen of the Year by the Preble County Chamber of Commerce.
As Toni herself puts it: “In addition to my experience and skill set, I have a passion for helping people and I am a champion for transformational change. I also understand the role that decent, affordable housing plays in allowing folks to reach their full potential. The opportunity to be a part of their journey is a privilege and the ultimate reward.”