HA Professionals, Commissioners Convene in San Diego
PHADA President David A. Northern, Sr.
PHADA recently held its first in-person Commissioners Conference in two years. Many members and I appreciated the opportunity to get together to learn, network, share information and enjoy one another’s company. Even with some cancellations stemming from the omicron variant, other health-related concerns and flight problems, we still had a good turnout of roughly 450 people. Most important, we were able to conduct the meeting safely, requiring that all participants show proof of vaccination and wear masks indoors while also conducting some of the social events outdoors. At this writing, PHADA is aware of just two people who reported testing positive after the meeting, and they are both doing fine.
Virtual meetings have been a valuable substitute for our industry and society in general over the past two years, and PHADA will continue to do some virtual training and other content. Still, nothing beats a “return to normal” and meeting in person. This recent gathering followed our last in-person meeting in September. At the Washington Legislative Forum, we had the opportunity to engage with HUD Secretary Marcia L. Fudge, Deputy Secretary Adrianne Todman, several HUD and congressional staff, and Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), among others.
In San Diego, our various committees were able to meet and take up a number of important issues including the President’s stalled Build Back Better (BBB) legislation, which contains more than $150 billion in needed housing funding. As a result of our discussions in California, the PHADA staff initiated a joint effort with other industry organizations to try and sway Congress to move this package forward. Read the joint letter from the groups here.
We held our PHADA-Rutgers University EDEP courses in San Diego as well as several informative workshops. Some of the topics included successful landlord outreach initiatives, new methods under consideration to address flawed Fair Market Rents, and Fair Housing training for Commissioners. Attendees and PHADA members that could not make it to the conference can access most of the session presentation material here.
Thank you to all the PHADA members who attended the Commissioners Conference. We greatly appreciate the assistance of the San Diego Housing Commission staff (so ably led by Rick Gentry) and the great team at Nan McKay who helped us with logistics. We could not have had such a successful and safe conference without them.
PHADA Meets the U.S. Mayors
PHADA Executive Director Tim Kaiser and I participated in the U.S. Conference of Mayor’s meeting in Washington, January 19-21. Kaiser and I were pleased to interact with some of the staff and the mayors themselves to impress upon them the important role HAs play in our communities. Like PHADA’s meeting, this one was-person too, requiring that all persons show proof of vaccination and pass a COVID test.
I was honored to be one of the session’s panelists, encouraging mayors to work with their local HAs to secure more landlord participation in the voucher program. I also asked them to support and press Congress for increased capital funding, which preserves more units for residents in their home communities.
We also took the occasion to meet briefly with Deputy Secretary Todman, who gave an excellent presentation on HUD’s priorities on the one-year anniversary of the Biden Administration’s tenure. In addition, HUD Secretary Fudge and President Biden both addressed the conference, mentioning their goal to get affordable housing provisions approved as part of the previously mentioned BBB legislation.
Making a Change
On a more personal note, I recently decided to move on from Birmingham, AL, to a new position in Houston. I appreciate all those in Birmingham for welcoming me and allowing me to help further the agency’s overall mission. I have absolutely no doubt that, after my departure, it will continue to be a leader in providing affordable and safe housing for Alabama families.
The Houston Housing Authority (HHA) provides affordable homes and services to more than 60,000 low-income Houstonians, including over 17,000 voucher-assisted families as well as another 5,700 living in 25 public housing and tax credit developments. HHA also administers one of the nation’s largest voucher programs serving homeless veterans. I look forward to joining HHA in late February and working with others to address its immediate and long-term housing needs.