Washington Is “Reopened” for Business
PHADA President David A. Northern, Sr.
There is a popular hit song from the mid-1960s titled “See You in September” by a group called “The Happenings.” The song and the band’s titles are both apt for what will be PHADA’s first in person meeting since our January 2020 Commissioners Conference in Phoenix. I am looking forward to our gathering and I know many PHADA leaders feel the same. The 2021 Legislative Forum comes at a most opportune time (with much happening) so I hope many of you will join us in the nation’s capital.
Like many other localities around the country, Washington has now “reopened.” The Capitol Hill hotel we will meet in has no capacity restrictions and will be fully functional when we meet. The city’s restaurants, tourist sites, the area’s Metro system, and other commercial operations are open, too.
Meeting in Person with Congress
Some of our members have understandably inquired whether they will be able to meet in person with their Representatives, Senators, and their staffs in September. That prospect appears likely at this stage. More and more members of Congress have returned to their Capitol Hill offices, and they are calling back their staffs too. “We’re back,” said Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) in the June 6 Washington Post. “Following the guidance of …the attending physician [in Congress] a lot of people have brought their staff back,” she told the newspaper.
Members of the public who desire to meet with elected officials can contact their Washington offices in advance to request in person meetings. As of now, procedures vary by office, but typically requests are made by phone or through the lawmakers’ website. Visitors also need to be escorted into congressional buildings. Capitol Hill office procedures are still evolving but PHADA will provide members more specifics on how the process works in the very near future.
We expect that congressional in person meetings will become more common by the time of our meeting in mid-September. In addition, the Biden Administration is planning to soon announce plans for reopening federal agency offices in the Washington area and around the country. In the meantime, PHADA staff have talked with some HUD headquarters representatives, who report they are now going into their offices more frequently.
Happenings on the Hill and at HUD
The House and Senate will be quite busy leading up our to meeting. We expect appropriations committees in both chambers to take up FY 22 spending bills later this month and in July so that different versions can possibly be reconciled and signed into law by the end of the fiscal year on September 30. As always, PHADA will report full details as they become available while also providing members our position papers to take to your meetings with lawmakers.
If Congress cannot meet the September 30 deadline, lawmakers will have to adopt a Continuing Resolution to keep the government operating. This timing means that we will be in Washington right as lawmakers are making final decisions on the budget – even more reason for you to be present and armed with PHADA’s materials to help advance our positions with Congress.
Our September meeting will cover a lot of the hot topics that HAs need to know as well. PHADA’s policy staff, Hill representatives and HUD officials will cover a variety of important topics including the latest on the Moving to Work expansion, the Section 8 mobility demonstration, new NSPIRE inspections, Section 3 rule changes, the soon-to-released Fair Housing rule, possible changes in Fair Market Rents and a host of other important matters. We are also hoping HUD Secretary Fudge will join us to discuss her priorities for the next few years.
Sharing Information With One Another
One of the most valuable aspects of PHADA’s meetings, of course, is that they provide us the opportunity to convene, network and share information. This will be particularly useful this time around as we can learn from one another about different office reopening procedures, safety protocols that agencies have implemented, and other innovations HAs have instituted as result of the pandemic.
In September, we will also discuss some of PHADA’s organizational priorities including our efforts to address racial equity in housing policy and ways to provide more training to HAs that converted from traditional public housing to other platforms. In short, our September meeting will provide a great opportunity and timing for you to get back in touch with your colleagues after more than a year one half apart.
Please see the registration materials, meeting schedule and other information on page 10 and on PHADA’s website. I hope to see you in September!