New director named for Centre County housing organization

Morgan Wasikonis will take over as Housing Transitions’ executive director when Ron Quinn retires in May.
Morgan Wasikonis will take over as Housing Transitions’ executive director when Ron Quinn retires in May. Photo provided

Morgan Wasikonis has been named the new executive director of Housing Transitions in Centre County, an organization dedicated to helping individuals facing a housing crisis live more stable lives.

“I am very pleased that Morgan was selected as the executive director. The staff and myself all knew that she was in the running for the position and we were all rooting for her. Her skill set is exactly what our organization needs now. She’s redone our entire website and has brought a new vitalization to our community through services, just in the past year. She is exactly what the organization needs to move forward,” said Ron Quinn, the current executive director.

Wasikonis said many don’t realize just how many people are facing a housing crisis in the region and how that can lead to homelessness.

“I think in general people don’t realize how many are in this type of situation. We’ve definitely had some changes in the number of affordable places to live, and it’s not getting any cheaper to live here,” Wasikonis said.

Wasikonis said “affordable” is paying less than 30 percent of one’s income.

“Our economy is unique in some ways, because so much of it is dependent on what happens with the university and the student population. There are many people in this situation,” Wasikonis said.

Wasikonis is the organization’s development and community relations coordinator. Her promotion was decided by a search committee composed of board members and community representatives.

Quinn will retire in May. Quinn served as director for the past 27 years. He also serves as the director of the State College Community Land Trust until the end of 2016.

“He’s well-known and has done an amazing job making this organization work. It’s both exciting to have had an opportunity to learn from him and to be able to take it forward. I’m really grateful for the foundation he built. I know that we are going to be able to move forward and continue the great work that we already do,” Wasikonis said.

Some of that work includes helping provide emergency overnight shelter to those in crisis.

Quinn became the director three years after the inception of Centre House, the organization’s homeless shelter. The vision was to create a task force of community members working to address the concerns over demand for emergency shelter services.

During the past 27 years, Quinn has “evaluated needs, and adjusted services accordingly, to evolve and meet changing dynamics related to housing in the community,” according to a press release from Housing Transitions.

Now it’s Wasikonis’ turn. She said she’s “poised to learn even more about where we are at as a community and work with others in the community to address needs that we have now and in the future.”

“I would say that Ron Quinn has really built the organization. It’s got a really strong foundation in the community. It’s starting to be really well-known for service and its success rate. People that go through our programs, over 90 percent end up having a place to live after a year. Addressing that in the future will continue to be important,” Wasikonis said.

Jalelah Ahmed: 814-231-4631, @jalelahahmed