Venice Community Housing Corporation executive director Steve Clare has been named Public Citizen of the Year by the National Association of Social Workers California chapter.

Clare received the honor at the Westin Los Angeles Airport hotel grand ballroom Saturday, April 5th.

Clare, an attorney, co-founded the Venice Community Housing Corporation in 1998 to preserve economic, racial and social diversity of Venice and environs by maximizing affordable housing and economic opportunities, and to provide social services to low-income residents.

Under Clare’s leadership, the Housing Corporation has developed 175 affordable housing units in Venice and Mar Vista and provided construction job training for over 230 at-risk youths from the community, many of whom went on to full-time employment or college, according to the Association of Social Workers.

The Venice Community Housing Corporation has also created mosaic and ceramic tile murals at public schools and community organizations in Venice and helped local at-risk youths stay in school and abstain from gang involvement by providing comprehensive after-school activities and gang prevention programs at Mark Twain Middle School and in affordable housing buildings.

Another organization achievement includes launching a successful Teen Court at Venice High School, a peer-based system that provides an alternative to the juvenile system for young people accused of first-time minor offenses, while providing participants with an inside view of the legal system.

Clare strives for a community where all members of society have the basic rights, security, opportunities, obligations and benefits, according to the Association of Social Workers.

City Controller Laura Chick was honored as the Social Worker of the Year and Vendella Barnett, former executive director of the Neighborhood Youth Association received the 2008 Lifetime Achievement Award.