How Embrace Living Communities’ Partnership with Clay Johnson Turns Affordable Housing into Homes

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A big part of being a nonprofit organization means working together with others to fulfill a common mission. Though important work is often completed through shared partnerships, it’s the individuals within those partnerships who give those relationships meaning, and ultimately make the work more impactful. One such partnership is with painter Clay Johnson, whose relationship with Embrace Living Communities dates back to the 1990s. This relationship is long-standing, efficient, and heartfelt.

Johnson began his own dry wall painting business 43 years ago. His clientele ranges from different types of individuals and organizations, but a significant portion of his career has been   working on Embrace Living Communities Chicago properties: Greencastle of Woodlawn I & II, Greencastle of Englewood, Orchard Place of Englewood, Greencastle of Morgan Park & Beverly and Orchard Place of Morgan Park & Beverly. From intricately budgeted projects to unexpected building repairs, Johnson has completed countless jobs at Embrace Living Communities properties, and his readiness and availability for these building improvements makes him an ideal partner.  

“Our relationships with outside contractors are key. Whenever Clay is hired on a project, he reports on things beyond what he’s contracted to do, whether it’s through identifying electrical issues within a building, structural concerns with the walls, or additional needs of an apartment,” says Greencastle of Woodlawn I & II Manager Isiah Stroud. 

Pointing out these additional needs is critical in making sure communities not only meet HUD standards, but also fulfills Embrace Living Communities’ mission to provide an environment where the elderly and the disabled can comfortably embrace life. For Embrace Living Communities’ the impact doesn’t just stop at “housing.” By providing affordable, safe environments that seniors and individuals with disabilities are proud to call home, the rippling results come in the form of improved health, a sense of safety, and overall happiness.

“It’s not just about doing the bare minimum. We’re doing exactly what our mission states – having compassion for those who need it and delivering that in the best way possible, whether it be maintaining the property or making everyone feel comfortable,” says Lillian Carter, Manager of Greencastle of Englewood and Orchard Place of Englewood. 

Through Johnson’s long-standing relationship with Embrace Living Communities, there’s been no doubt of his sincerity. Despite being the sole owner and employee of his business, Johnson has been known to completely dedicate himself to Embrace Living Communities projects in record time; a severely damaged apartment (due to a wheelchair puncturing the drywall) was replastered in two days, a fire-devastated apartment was completely renovated in two weeks, and a total of nine floors were repainted in a single month. 

Johnson supports and believes in the work Embrace Living Communities does and that’s why he’s been willing to play such an essential part in fulfilling that mission. 

“[What Embrace Living Communities does] is valuable work for a lot of people. A lot of seniors desperately need a place to stay and things like that and they provide that. And they do a very good job of that, I can say that much. They always try to stay on top of things around the building for the people there,” says Clay. 

The motivation for Johnson’s incredible work ethic serves as a testament to the incredible work that can be done when like-hearted individuals come together to form valuable partnerships.

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