The Value of Some Lesser-Known Services
I wanted to highlight some of the “other” services PHADA provides to make them better known so more members might take advantage of them. For reasons explained below, we also make some of our resources (but certainly not all) available to nonmembers and other interested parties.
“Must-Reads” and the Job Board
Many of us like to keep up with what is happening at other HAs around the country. To this end, Wayne Sherwood, a well-known former CLPHA researcher, used to publish news stories that he provided to HAs at a minimal cost.
During a 2020 virtual Board retreat, some Trustees lamented Sherwood’s retirement and that the subscription service was no longer available. As a result, the Board decided to initiate a similar complimentary service for PHADA members. Our “Must-Reads” publication is emailed to all members on a bi-weekly basis. It typically includes news articles and information about HUD, local news stories involving public and assisted housing, and other important topics such as Fair Housing and evictions.
I know we are all busy running our agencies and that we get many daily emails, so it is easy to overlook this kind of information. Still, I would encourage you to read the material when you have a chance, perhaps “flagging” it and then going back to review it when you have time. I think you will find it is a worthwhile publication. Another service that we provide at no cost is our website Job Board. All HAs – not just PHADA members – can post help wanted ads there in addition to other related items such as requests for proposals and qualifications (RFPs, RFQs).
PHADA’s leadership and management made a conscious decision years ago to provide this service at no cost because we think it is important for HAs to be able to widely advertise their needs and secure the most qualified people for open positions. This is especially true now during the “great resignation” when it is difficult to find prospective employees. For more information on the Job Board, please see the separate feature here.
Position Papers and Related Material
For similar reasons, we make some of our Position Papers and related materials available to both members and nonmembers, the media, academics, and the public. We decided on this approach because it is in the industry’s interest for others to have access to some of this information (again, not all). Along the same lines, we recently published material advising HAs on how they can pursue PHAS and SEMAP score waivers. We furnished the information to all HAs because many of us are concerned about lower scores stemming from pandemic-induced problems that are beyond our control (i.e., staff shortages, supply chain delays and huge cost increases).
One positive thing to arise from the pandemic is that PHADA started to do more virtual conferences and webinars. In addition to the 2020–21 online conferences, we have presented some virtual webinars focusing on timely legislative topics and some of the unique operations and strategies HAs have employed the last two years.
I am delighted to inform you that another service PHADA provided over the last decade is now coming to a remarkably successful conclusion. As a result of HUD’s illegal 2012 operating reserves offset, PHADA initiated litigation against the Department. Ultimately, we were joined by NAHRO, a few state housing associations, and roughly 850 individuals HAs in our two victorious lawsuits.
For almost a decade, PHADA’s staff and accounting firm administered the litigation funds, oversaw all required reporting, contacted plaintiffs for information required to pay damages, and performed several other necessary tasks. The cases resulted in about $270 million in damages to plaintiffs, most of whom are PHADA members and others who are not. I wanted you to be aware that none of the funds went to PHADA to cover our administrative costs. Rather, the Board initiated and administered the suits because we thought it in the best interests of all HAs. PHADA is especially proud of this achievement considering the positive results.
More Than Public Housing
Lastly, I wanted to note PHADA provides more than just “public housing” services and that our advocacy, policy analysis and other efforts focus on other programs including HCVs, RAD, LIHTCs, non-profits, Moving to Work (MTW) and other affordable housing programs. We recently published a four-page paper that outlines our work in these program areas. Please review and share the paper with your colleagues if you like. It is located online here.