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President’s Forum: Next Congress to Include Many New Members

Please Continue Educating Lawmakers on Housing Issues

PHADA President David A. Northern, Sr.

The 118th congressional session starts in just a few weeks. Once again, the margins in each chamber will be very slim. This time, however, Republicans will hold the majority in the House of Representatives, meaning their leadership will set the policy and budget agenda on their side of the Capitol. Meanwhile, Democrats will retain control of the Senate and the White House.

Capitol Hill personnel changes will have a significant impact on any number of important budget and policy matters affecting us, including the debt ceiling debate and HUD appropriations. As PHADA has previously reported, Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Richard Shelby (R-AL) are both retiring and will vacate their top leadership posts on the Senate’s influential Appropriations Committee. Sens. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Susan Collins (R-ME) will assume the chair and ranking position, respectively, on that panel. Both Senators have been helpful supporters, advocating for adequate funding and expansion of the Moving to Work program and Rental Assistance Demonstration, among other things.

In the House, Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Kay Granger (R-TX) will switch seats on the Appropriations Committee with Granger now taking the gavel. In addition, Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC) will head the influential Financial Services Committee, which oversees housing policy. Currently, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) holds the chair and is expected to become the ranking Democrat. PHADA will report changes in other committee posts when they are announced.


Incoming Class of Representatives and Senators

There will be about eighty new members of Congress in the two chambers (a few elections are still undecided). The 2023 class is younger than those presently serving on Capitol Hill with the average age of new Representatives around 46 years old. Interestingly, seventeen of the new lawmakers are in their twenties or thirties, and for the first time ever, Congress will have a member from Generation Z. Rep. Maxwell Frost (D-FL) was born in 1997 during Bill Clinton’s second presidential term.

The new Congress will have the most women ever including a record number of African American women (27). In addition, the Senate will have its first Native American member in more than two decades. Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R), a tribal citizen of the Cherokee Nation, was elected to the Senate from Oklahoma.

It is interesting to read about some of the new lawmakers and their backgrounds. Richard Shelby’s successor is Senator-elect Katie Britt (R), who previously served as his chief of staff. New Jerseyans elected the sons of two prominent politicians to the House of Representatives. Rob Menendez is the son of New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez (D). Tom Kean Jr.(R-NJ) is the son of the state’s former Governor.

About one dozen of the lawmakers have no prior experience in public office. Many of the new lawmakers will be appointed to committees and subcommittees with jurisdiction over housing. Local housing professionals need to establish relationships and educate them on our issues.

There is an old saying attributed to former House Speaker Tip O’Neill (D-MA): “All politics is local.” This saying implies that a politician’s success is tied to his/her ability to understand and influence the issues of their constituents. Politicians must appeal to the simple everyday concerns of those who elect them. Those issues are often what voters care most about, according to this principle.

There is much truth to this adage. Accordingly, please invite lawmakers to your properties to see planned or actual improvements and meet with residents. Go meet with them in their district offices and in Washington. Provide them with information from PHADA and other sources to help guide them in their decision making. My agency, the Houston HA, has certainly made this a longstanding practice with our two local Representatives, Al Green and Sheila Jackson-Lee. Many of you have done the same kinds of things around other parts of the country. Because of the slim voting margins and tight federal budgets, this type of interaction is more important than ever before.


Remembering Alphonso Patrick

Former PHADA Trustee Alphonso Patrick, Jr.

Many other members and I, along with PHADA’s staff, were saddened to learn that Alphonso Patrick, Jr., passed away on November 27. Patrick, 82, was a long-time active member of PHADA who served on our Board of Trustees where he was well-liked and respected.

Al Patrick began his career as an intern at the Department Housing and Urban Development in Philadelphia. At the time of his death, he was serving as the Executive Director of the Forest City, NC Housing Authority. He previously served as Executive Director of the Housing Authority of the City of Bessemer, AL, for 10 years. Al was fondly remembered by his friends and colleagues in Bessemer, including current PHADA Trustee Cortney Coleman. During his long and successful career, he also ran PHAs in Omaha, NE, Maricopa County, AZ, and Petersburg, VA.

Patrick earned a bachelor’s degree from Belmont Abbey College in North Carolina and master’s in public administration from the University of Hartford in Connecticut. In addition to his industry-related career, Patrick at one time worked with the Travelers Companies in its Real Estate Investment Group. He was a lifetime member of the NAACP.

He is survived by his loving wife of almost 60 years, Dr. Erline Major Patrick; his daughters, Inga Patrick and Mia (Patrick) Wooldridge; his grandchildren, Joshua and Nicholas Wooldridge and Isabella Zaremba; great-grandchildren; and other extended family members. PHADA sends its most sincere condolences to his family and many friends in the industry. Al Patrick will be missed.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays & Happy New Year to All!

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