Lisa Wright, President of Inland Southern California United Way and 211, joins Joey Romero

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Covering both the counties of Riverside and San Bernardino.  As part of United Way and 211, she is committed to fighting for the education, financial stability and housing of every person in the Inland Southern California. She serves as a Board Member with the United Ways of California, member of the Greater Riverside Chamber Government Affairs Committee, Advisory Member of the California Baptist University Jabs School of Business, Chair of the Mergers & Combinations Committee with United Way Worldwide, and member of the United Way Worldwide Business Strategy Taskforce.


She has also been a volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Orange County & Inland Empire, having mentored her little from 3rd grade to first-generation college student.  Prior to joining United Way in early 2016, Lisa was the Executive Director of Philanthropy for Loma Linda University Health and Vice President of Development for two human service organizations in Southern California.


She has a Bachelor of Science in Business / Accounting from the University of Arizona, a Master’s degree from Claremont School of Theology, and completed postgraduate studies in Ethics at Claremont School of Theology. She attained the Certificate in Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) in 2015, and she is a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. She routinely speaks at conferences about philanthropy and ethics, faith and philanthropy, nonprofit financial management, and fundraising, and is a new adjunct professor with University of Redlands. In the last year, Lisa was awarded the 2020 Fundraiser of the Year for the Inland Empire (AFP), and 2020 Spirit of the Entrepreneur COVID Hero Award (CSUSB).



Episode Notes:


Narrator  This is The Norris Group’s real estate investor radio show, the award-winning show dedicated to thought leaders shaping the real estate industry and local experts revealing their insider tips to succeed in an ever-changing real estate market hosted by author, investor and hard money lender, Bruce Norris.

Joey Romero  Hi, thank you for joining us on The Norris Group real estate radio show and podcast. This is Joey Romero hosting once again. Today we have a really special guest we have Lisa Wright, who’s the president of the Inland Southern California United Way and 211, covering both the counties of Riverside and San Bernardino, as part of the United Way and 211, she is committed to fighting for the education, financial stability, and housing for every person in inland Southern California. She serves as a board member with the United Way’s of California, member of the Greater Riverside Chamber Government Affairs Committee, Advisory member of the CBU Jabs School of Business, Chair of the Mergers and Combinations Committee with the United Way Worldwide, and a member of the United Way Worldwide Business Strategy Task Force. She has also been a volunteer with Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Orange County and the Inland Empire, having mentoring her little from 3rd grade all the way to first-generation college students. Prior to joining the United Way in 2016, Lisa was the Executive Director of Philanthropy for Loma Linda University Health and Vice President of Development for two human service organizations in Southern California. Lisa has a BS in Business and Accounting from the University of Arizona, a Master’s degree from Claremont School of Theology, and completed postgraduate studies in Ethics at Claremont School of Theology. She attained the Certificate in Fundraising Executive in 2015, and she is a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. She routinely speaks at conferences about philanthropy and ethics, faith in philanthropy, nonprofit financial management, and fundraising and is a new adjunct professor with the University of Redlands in the last year, Lisa was awarded the 2020 fundraiser of the Year by the AFP and the 2020 spirit of the entrepreneur COVID Hero Award by Cal State University San Bernardino. Lisa, welcome to our show. Are you first question? Are you um, Are you married? You have kids?

Lisa Wright  I’m not. No.

Joey Romero  Not?

Lisa Wright  I, I spend my days really working in nonprofits. So, no.

Joey Romero  Wow. The reason I was asking I had this tremendous joke about marrying Mr. Right. But I guess that’s, now, now when, when, you’re at Redlands, Oh, I got to go to Mrs. Right, Ms. Right. So, you’re always right. So, can you tell us a little bit more about the United Way?

Lisa Wright  Yeah, so um, you know, Inland Southern California, United Way, was founded in 1931 kind of during the middle of the Great Depression. And for listeners, United Way used to be the Community Chest. So, on the Monopoly board, that’s us, the Community Chest. And so, that was established to bring in all sorts of dollars and help distribute them to people in need. So, that’s how we were founded in the local area in 1931.

Joey Romero  Wow. Now, are all the United Way’s the same?

Lisa Wright  All United Way started at different times. And the first United Way started in the late 1800s in Colorado, so we’re spread throughout the whole entire world, and people started at different times when their community started to be populated, right, they started their own United Way.

Joey Romero  Okay. And the, the United Way that I knew locally, you know, went into businesses, and they would create this campaigns, and people would participate, you know, you donate so much from your paycheck. And it would, that would be the campaign for the United Way. That’s how you would get your shirt, you know, so is that something that you still do?

Lisa Wright  We still do workplace campaign. So, what’s great about United Way is that anybody can be a donor in their community, right through $5 a paycheck or $10 a paycheck. We work with a variety of different people in major companies and, you know, sometimes they give to United Way directly and other times they want to designate their gift to you know, their favorite, you know, charity of choice. So, we help those companies with their employees just kind of a really easy way to give.

Joey Romero  And I know I mentioned Riverside and San Bernardino County, but we’re talking about the first number one and number four, in terms of size and counties in the country. You guys really do both counties as big as they are?

Lisa Wright We do, we do have some partners in our community, some smaller United Way’s that serve really kind of a geographical area, but we cover most of Riverside in San Bernardino County. So, we are the largest United Way in the lower 48 for landmass right. Um, so we like to always point that out.

Joey Romero  You know, one of the interesting stories when, when they were looking to fill your position, the one that you got, I actually interviewed.

Lisa Wright  No way. That’s like a six, six years ago.

Joey Romero  Yes. I was working for Family Service Association, I was running a mobile fresh program. So, I was going to both counties, and working with, you know, a lot of the nonprofit world. And just with the success that I was having, you know, somebody threw my name in the hat, and actually got down the road quite a bit. But, you know, I didn’t have the credentials that nowhere near the credential you had, but you know, they were just like, man, you’ve just done so much. You know, I was also the President of the Riverside Area Rape Crisis Center the board, where I served for a couple years, that’s another one our neighbors, it’s in between…

Lisa Wright  I know them very well. Yeah.

Joey Romero  So, anyways, Now, can we now, we used to host Community Connect here and I think 211 was a program of theirs. And that’s something that you guys have taken over? Can you tell me a little bit more about that?

Lisa Wright  Um, yeah, for sure. We, um, we took over kind of 211 server, Riverside County. Boy, it’s been like, a year and a half, maybe a little bit over a year and a half, almost two years ago. Um, so Riverside County, that’s what we did. And then just a year ago, we merged with Inland Empire another way 211 serving San Bernardino County. So yeah, so that’s, that’s kind of what we did as an organization just recently.

Joey Romero  So, for people who don’t know that 211 is actually nationwide, isn’t it? But it’s locally. So can you tell us a little bit more about what 211 actually does?

Lisa Wright  Yeah. 211 has local contact centers throughout the United States. So, either United Way’s run them like we do, or other nonprofits run them. And I think you’re, you know, most of your listeners may have used like the 911 service, or 311, to report a city or county issue, or maybe they’d call 811, to find their utility lines. And, of course, way back when we used to call 411, right, for people’s information. So, 211 is a number anyone can call to get social service assistance, you know, so anything from locating a food bank to signing up for like CalFresh, for information about health services, housing referrals, and then crisis care, and we’re open 24/7.

Joey Romero  Okay. Now, what uhm, what are the programs are available through the United Way and 211.

Lisa Wright  So, for 211, uhm, here locally, we have a variety of different programs, but through the nation, you can call 211 for access to any social service program. Uhm, here locally, of course, we refer people out to another nonprofit that provides that service or government entity. In local, we also run uhm you know, 211 careers, which helps people find jobs, we work with our homeless population to help them find housing. And then we also want our emergency Rental Assistance Program.

Joey Romero  Now, did the pandemic change how you guys did business?

Lisa Wright  Oh, yes. It, for sure it did. Kind of, the minute, we kind of went on lockdown, our phone line surged, and we had to get help, which is great about 211, we had to get help from our network to handle our call surge volume. And locally, they wanted to know and of course the nation, people wanted to know what exactly were the protocols, what’s happening, where did they get tested. And so during the beginning of COVID, we were helping people locate their testing site, providing them information that counties wanted them to know. And it was just an easy number for people to call, so at the very beginning of COVID, huge surge, and then when the vaccines became available, we worked with the county to Riverside County to get people directly get their appointments for the COVID vaccine. So, we scheduled 1000s and 1000s of COVID vaccines and we scheduled 1000s of COVID testing for our neighbors.

Joey Romero Wow. And is that stuff still going on now? What’s the most common call you guys get now?

Lisa Wright  Today, I was just looking at that data, actually today um, the number one reason people are calling today is for utility assistance. So, part of our emergency rental program does cover utility assistance, but that’s the number one call today.

Joey Romero  Well, that’s a great transition because my next question was going to be about United Lift. So, so most people, you know, we have a big, big network of, you know, real estate investors, realtors and mortgage professionals, that this particular program can really help them out because we serve the mom and pop kind of real estate investor, the mom and pop landlords, so can you tell us about uhm, United Lift?

Lisa Wright  Absolutely. So, United Lift, um, is a program in Riverside County, and it’s a partnership between the Lift to Rise which is an organization level Located in the Coachella Valley, and our organization, where we help both process and distribute rent relief to landlords and Riverside County, also Inland Southern California United Way and 211 also distributes rental assistance to landlords and San Bernardino County as well, through another program.

Joey Romero  Okay.

Lisa Wright  And then of course, nationally, a lot of different types of organizations are helping getting the money out.

JoeyRomero  Now we’re talking about AB-832 in California. Is that commonly what you guys are getting?

Lisa Wright  Correct. Yes.

Joey Romero  Okay. Go ahead.

Lisa Wright  And then, of course, in the state, if you’re not Riverside, or San Bernardino County is another resource.

Joey Romero  Yes, that was, that was a question down the line. But that’s okay. So, how much can they get in rental assistance?

Lisa Wright  So, it depends on what county and depends on what county they’re in what city they’re in, there’s a lot of, you know, depends. And we are paying back rent. So again, it depends on the, it depends on the program that they’re applying for. But we help landlords get caught up and help the tenants get caught up. So, that their rent is paid. So, but also the program has some restrictions. So, because it’s a federal program, there’s going to be income limits, not everybody qualifies, it’s meant to help people who had a COVID issue, right, or COVID impacted. It’s not meant to, for somebody who doesn’t want to pay rent, and they weren’t impacted, right. Um, so there’s, and then of course, it requires a tenant-landlord to work together. We love it when landlords and tenants communicate, which is often a challenge, but to communicate about making sure that we get a lease agreement that know. So, that’s how we kind of work with them to figure out what they need.

Joey Romero  While I was reading that it, it gives them up to 12 in certain programs, or certain places, it gives them 12 months of arrears. And even 3 months of future payments.

Lisa Wright  Yes. So, that’s how Riverside County programs San Bernardino County is a little bit different, but and it depends on the locality that your listeners are listening to. But yes, paying back rent.

Joey Romero  And just so everybody knows that. I think a big California organization that’s helping a lot of people with this is the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment I read. Now, one of the things that was surprising to me, and I think is an incentive for landlords to work together is that these payments, who did they go to?

Lisa Wright  They go to the landlords, Yeah, we want to make sure that our landlords are made and made whole from COVID. And they go directly to landlords, which is why we, why we love when landlords and tenants work together and communicate,

Joey Romero  Is there a deadline to apply?

Lisa Wright  There is, until funding runs out, I highly encourage you to apply sooner rather than later. And landlords can directly apply, but their tenants must also participate, right? They have to be able to provide some documentation.

Joey Romero  Yeah, I saw that the landlords can initiate. So, my question was gonna be what, what is the follow up what happens after that?

Lisa Wright  After they initiate it, we contact their tenant to let them know this is the information that you need to complete to qualify and it proof of income, just general information. And the landlord also has to put their certifications and making sure we have a lease. And yeah, so that’s, that’s generally what happens next. It does take a while. Sometimes, as you might know, landlords and tenants don’t always communicate with each other very well. And we’re always trying to bridge that gap between the two.

Joey Romero  Well, this is a quite an incentive to do so. Now I read in some of these, that it’s not just rental assistance, is there money for other things too?

Lisa Wright  Depends on the program that we’re talking about where the person resides, but some of our programs does also include back utilities as well.

Joey Romero  Oh, wow, now, you said it takes some time and this is pretty new, as are they starting to see this work, and is there you know, success stories already?

Lisa Wright  Absolutely. I’m happy to share one, do you want me to share one?

Joey Romero Yes please.

Lisa Wright  Okay. So um, I wrote myself some notes, I wouldn’t forget all the details. But so a couple, a couple weeks ago, you know, I logged on to my emails early one morning, and I had this voicemail from one of our case managers. And the voicemail came from one of our tenants, who was leaving a message for our case manager. And so, the voicemail was sent from the tenant slightly after midnight, right. And so it was somebody we had assisted, it was a middle aged man who had recently lost some members of his family. And his voice was steady at the beginning of a call. And he explained that he really appreciate the assistance, right, that he had worked his whole entire life, never needing assistance like this. And then his voice pause for just a second. And you could tell that he was beginning to get very emotional. And he said, You know, I’ve never thought I would need this kind of help. And your team has been amazing and so compassionate and helpful. And he said that just a few minutes before the voicemail that he left us. He had opened his own email to find that he had been approved for all of his background. And he said and he was fully emotional during this time. He said he, he could finally sleep. And that he’d been up night, night after night worrying and this is the first time since at the end of the pandemic, that he felt peace. And I listened to that voicemail five times, sometimes just to encourage me every single day, you know that we’re doing this for a purpose and a greater reason. And I’m so happy that he was able to get some peace from that experience.

Joey Romero  Well, that’s, you know, that’s part of the reason, you know, you know, when I was doing that work, when you do that work, you know, matter of fact, the reason I’m at The Norris Group is because of the nonprofit community work that Aaron had done with me, you know, I, every time Aaron had some project ‘Hey Joey you want to do it?’, and I’m gonna go, you know, because I knew it was gonna be fun. I knew it was gonna help people. One of my, one of my favorite ones was, we loaded up and headed out to the Coachella Valley and, and we were showing nonprofits how to participate in give big. And it was, this little group of it was campesinas latinas, you know campesinas? You know, farmworkers, and they also expand, so they were doing translating, and it was, it was really cool. So, that’s, that’s how I ended up here. But, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s helping the community, it’s, you know, being, being able to give back, you know, it’s, I don’t want to say it’s easy, because given your time, you know, Aaron always talks about, you know, time treasure or, or talent, right, one of those things, that, that’s one of the things that you can do for the community. So, I never, I never, you know, lessen people’s time, if you put a number to, to the, you know, like a, like a wage, to the volunteer hours, it’s in the hundreds of 1000s of dollars that people give back every year, you know, so it’s always a great, great thing to do. Now, one of the things that has no, you know, being, being connected to the Latino community immigration status has nothing to do with this, right? Like, they can still apply.

Lisa Wright  So fine.

Joey Romero  So, how can how can other, how can landlords get involved in other programs? And how can how can they, you know, we help bridge that gap even more.

Lisa Wright  

think that, you know, beyond rental assistance, landlords can just really inform their tenants about 211. Um, and letting them know, you know, maybe you’re having a hard time with rent, but you call 211. We also know that if people are struggling with rent, they’re probably struggling with food, right? They’re probably struggling with health, probably stress, there’s a lot of other things that people are struggling with and our 211 guides, the people that answer those phones are local people that want to just help their neighbors in need. And so you know, talking to a real person who’s compassionate and wants to make sure that you’re getting all the referrals that you need. And then to call back, you know, if you need more services, 24/7, in all the languages, just we really would like to figure out how we can become helpful for you and your tenant.

Joey Romero  Can you let our listeners know how they can get a hold of you guys?

Lisa Wright  For sure, we have our website. So you can of course in your favorite search engine, Google, or whatever, Inland, Southern California United Way. And then as well as for if you’re in Riverside County and you’re looking for rental assistance, it’s if you’re in San Bernardino County, at And of course, in any search engine, you put any key terms you’re going to get to us, oh, and then of course 211 you don’t know where to go? Call 211 they can help.

Joey Romero  That’s, that’s the easy one, right? Call 211. That’s a simple, simple, and as easy as you can get. Lisa, thank you so much. We really appreciate you being on with us. And I know that our listeners are gonna find tremendous value with this. And I hope it really does encourage a lot of our landlords to not only encourage their tenants to, you know, apply, but you know, maybe just grab the bull by the horn and you know, take that little initiative and you know, start the process and then say, Hey, this is what I did for you. You know, can you follow up, you know, we’re gonna try and make you whole. Alright, we do want to tell you about some upcoming events on August 14 at 9am. Bruce will be presenting part three of his economic update and forecast report. Part Three is called AI, Artificial Inflation, real estate in the stimulus economy. Bruce will be taking a look at how inflation in the past impacted the economy, wages, interest rates, and real estate price movement. He will also have to consider several factors that cause deflation. Things like aging demographics, debt servicing costs, higher taxes, artificial intelligence, and technology advances like robotics. It’s going to be a real challenge to say what’s next because what’s happening is all artificial. This is only available to VIP subscribers. If you need to renew or sign up please give me a call at 951-823-8266 or send me an email at Our other event we’re having is on August 27. We’re heading back to Florida for another Florida boot camp. We have less than 10 seats available. So, if you’re interested in investing out of state, please sign up as soon as possible. For more information once again reach out to me at 951-823-8266 or email me at

Narrator  For more information on hard money, loans and upcoming events with The Norris Group, check out For information on passive investing with trust deeds, visit

Aaron Norris  The Norris Group originates and services loans in California and Florida under California DRE License 01219911, Florida Mortgage Lender License 1577, and NMLS License 1623669.  For more information on hard money lending, go and click the Hard Money tab.



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