PHADA President David A. Northern, Sr.
This is PHADA’s first edition of the Advocate in 2022 so I would like to wish a Happy New Year to all members and other readers. I hope you had a joyous and healthy holiday season.
We are closing in on the second anniversary of the pandemic. Sadly, the United States has surpassed more than 800,000 covid-related deaths so far with more than five million deaths worldwide.
Things have vastly improved with vaccines and therapies more widely available, but the situation remains very concerning as new variants are quickly spreading in the winter season. Let us hope and pray that we see more improvements throughout 2022 and we can return to some form of “normal” this year.
Disaster Aid Needed in Kentucky and Region
The last month has been very difficult for some of our members and their fellow citizens affected by the tornadoes in Kentucky, Arkansas and other parts of the region. Like me, I am sure you were deeply saddened to see the widespread devastation and deaths caused by the tornadoes. Our most sincere condolences go out to those impacted by the disaster.
HUD officials informed PHADA that, so far, they have identified about 260 public housing and 60 voucher units that have been permanently lost. As we saw in news reports, many other private homes in the region were obliterated.
Not surprisingly, housing professionals in Kentucky and other nearby states have been working tirelessly to secure shelter for residents affected by the disaster. HUD regional offices, headquarters staff and FEMA are working closely with those HAs to help locate shelter and other resources for those in need.
Our staff has been in touch with members in the region and will continue communicating with headquarters to identify those that need more help. Certainly, PHADA and other advocates will push for congressional disaster aid and any needed waivers or other flexibilities HAs require during this dire time. I encourage all members in the area to let us know if there is anything more we can do.
Legislation Would Help Preserve Housing & Provide New Units
The tragic losses referenced above are a reminder of the scarcity of affordable housing all over the country. This is one of many reasons why PHADA is so supportive of the Build Back Better (BBB) legislation, which contains more than $100 billion for housing programs.
Here are some highlights of the bill:
- $65 billion is included for the capital fund to be allocated as follows: $10 billion to be disbursed by formula 60 days after enactment, to remain available until 2031; and $53 billion for priority investments (as determined by HUD) to repair, replace, or construct properties, to remain available until 2026. If BBB is enacted, agencies could receive approximately 3.5 times their usual award in capital funds. In addition, housing authorities would receive approximately $3 billion more in FY 22 Capital Fund appropriations under other pending House and Senate legislation.
- BBB includes $24 billion for Section 8 tenant based rental assistance, including $15 billion for extremely low-income families and $7.1 billion for households experiencing or at risk of homelessness.
- Among other related provisions, the LIHTC housing tax credit part of the bill includes a temporary housing tax credit allocation increase of 10 percent plus inflation for each of the three years from 2022 to 2024 over the current baseline.
You can read more about the bill’s contents and status in the separate article here. As indicated in that piece, the Build Back Better Act is at now in real jeopardy. It is important to continue advocacy in the event that a smaller version of the bill is negotiated. PHADA encourages you to email and call your elected officials and urge them to support a bill with historic investments in public housing, rental assistance, LIHTC and other housing programs.
Alabamans Convene at Historic Site for Housing Policy Summit
I was honored to facilitate a strategic planning session in Selma, Alabama last month. The housing agency’s President/CEO Kennard Randolph hosted the “One Alabama Housing Roundtable” alongside the city’s Mayor James Perkins, Jr., as well as other housing experts and partners from all over region. Important and fruitful discussions regarding how best to serve our communities and improve housing access took place.
A highlight was our convening on the Edmund Pettus Bridge, a historic symbol of the 1960s civil rights era. It was there where Martin Luther King, John Lewis and other leaders bravely marched in 1965 in an inspirational turning point for the movement.