American Family Housing Welcomes William Odell to Board

Southern California Nonprofit Taps Formerly Homeless Tenant for Leadership Role

MIDWAY CITY, Calif., June 06, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- American Family Housing (AFH) – a nonprofit organization that provides housing and related services to low income and homeless households – is proud to announce that one of its tenants, William Odell, has joined AFH’s Board of Directors.

Odell was homeless for eight years before he connected with AFH. Odell now lives in an apartment that is owned and managed by AFH in the City of Westminster.

Odell said he became homeless after he struggled with mental health issues, especially after his wife passed away. He was a teacher prior to becoming homeless. “I’m amazed I held on for so long,” Odell said.

For eight years while he was homeless, Odell moved around constantly, staying off the radar. He would spend half of the night riding the bus around town, and then the other half of the night at a fitness center where he had a membership so he could shower, swim and exercise. He slept during the daytime, heading over to Huntington Beach where he would sleep by the beach.

“This organization gave me a calm place to set my things down and regain peace of mind after years without,” Odell said. “I was surprised and honored to be asked to join the Board.”

Milo Peinemann, Chief Executive Officer, said the agency takes very seriously the importance of involving community members in making decisions about how AFH invests its time and limited resources.

“As a tenant who was homeless for nearly a decade and who has lived that journey, William is a consumer of our services. He has life experience that is relevant to every conversation that the board has,” Peinemann said. “And now he’s one of my bosses.”

AFH's Board Chair Tom Burnham, who is Chief Human Resource Officer of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange, welcomed Odell to his first Board meeting May 23.

“If our organization were a boat, Milo would be steering the boat,” Burnham said. “William joins myself and the rest of the Board where it’s our role to provide foresight, oversight and insight. In that same ‘boat’ analogy, we might be thought of as being up in the crow's nest, scanning the horizon for what’s ahead.”

The Board directs American Family Housing, a 501 (c)3 nonprofit public benefit corporation, towards a sustainable future by adopting sound, ethical, and legal governance and financial management policies, and by making sure the nonprofit has adequate resources to advance its mission. It sets policies that ensure prudent use of all assets, including facilities, people, and good will; it makes decisions in the best interest of the nonprofit corporation and assures that our activities advance our nonprofit mission; and it recognizes and discloses conflicts of interest.

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With media inquiries, please call Leslie Licano at 949-733-8679 ext. 101 or email

ABOUT AMERICAN FAMILY HOUSING: Founded in 1985, American Family Housing (AFH) is a nonprofit organization that provides a continuum of housing and a broad spectrum of services to vulnerable populations facing barriers to achieving housing stability, including war veterans and adults with disabilities and mental illness. Operating 63 housing sites, with 282 units that serve more than 1,000 adults and children each year in Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino counties, AFH is committed to permanently ending the cycle of homelessness, helping low-income families and adults achieve a self-sustaining way of life and become active members of their communities.

A photo accompanying this announcement is available at

William Odell joins American Family Housing Board of Directors