PHADA President David A. Northern, Sr.
This is my final column as PHADA’s President. The time has passed very quickly, partly because so much has happened as we came out of the COVID public health emergency with HUD initiating many regulatory changes at a breakneck pace. With everything considered, it has been rewarding to lead this association of dedicated housing professionals.
I must acknowledge those who helped me during my tenure. First, I want to express my appreciation to the Houston Housing Authority Board of Commissioners for providing me with the opportunity and latitude to serve in this role. Our dedicated Board of Commissioners includes Chairman LaRence Snowden; Vice President Kristy Kirkendoll; Kris Thomas; Andrea Cooksey; Max Miller; and Stephanie Ballard. I would also like to acknowledge my HHA Executive Assistant, Anna Hawkins. The HHA staff has also been instrumental in keeping me organized and on task. The Board, employees, and I were all proud and honored to host PHADA’s Trustees during our productive strategic planning retreat last October. That important meeting will remain one of the fondest memories of my presidency.
Thanks to Past President John Hodge (Brunswick, ME) and our incoming President Mark Gillett (Oklahoma City, OK) for their support. PHADA is in good hands with Mark and the rest of the new leadership team taking office for the 2023–25 term. I have appreciated and enjoyed working with all our committee chairs, the Executive Committee, and the entire 50-member Board of Trustees. All of them are listed on the masthead to the left of this page.
As we all know too well, there has been much turnover in our industry in the last few years. Each year we say goodbye to old friends who have moved into their retirement and welcome new ones to fill the void. I especially want to recognize and express the association’s appreciation to former PHADA President Rick Parker (2003–05) and our Bollinger Scholarship Committee Chair Earl Rickman, who are both retiring. They have been committed leaders who will be missed.
My sincere thanks to Executive Director Tim Kaiser and the diligent PHADA staff: Jim Armstrong, Norma Bellew, Arlene Conn, the recently retired Gwen Lyda, Sara Patterson, Blake Stenning, Michael Webb, David Weber, and Crystal Wojciechowski.
With HUD Secretary Marcia L. Fudge.
During my time as President, I have had the pleasure of getting to know Secretary Marcia L. Fudge, the 18th Secretary of the U.S. Department of HUD. She has been accessible and open to considering PHADA’s perspective on any number of issues. The same is true of Deputy Secretary Adrianne Todman and HUD-PIH Deputy Assistant Secretary Dominique Blom. I know the new leadership team will continue our constructive dialogue with the Department.
From an organizational standpoint, I am delighted to report that PHADA’s membership and financial condition remain strong. Members and I have appreciated the opportunity to convene in person at the six major conferences we conducted during my presidency.
The industry has made progress on some key policy and budgetary matters. We have seen better appropriations for the Operating, Capital, HCV program, and the Rental Assistance Demonstration. Still, HAs continue to face serious challenges due to tight rental markets, persistent inflation, rising construction costs, and labor market shortages. In addition, HUD has issued too many onerous new regulations all at one time including NSPIRE, BABA, HOTMA, HIP, AFFH, and others.
Executive Director, Tim Kaiser, HUD Deputy Secretary Adrianne Todman, and President David A. Northern, Sr., at PHADA’s 2022 Legislative Forum.
PHADA will keep pushing to try to make all these initiatives more workable under a realistic timeline. We will, of course, continue our effective partnership with close allies (CLPHA, NAHRO and the MTW Collaborative) on these and other critical issues. During my presidency, the Biden Administration issued an Executive Order focusing on “Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government”. Having four African American Presidents leading the groups at the same time, two women and two men, is significant.
Given the political division and major budgetary challenges facing the country, we also need new policy approaches. I noted in this column just a few months back that there is already a successful model in place that the Biden Administration and Congress should look to – the original Moving to Work (MTW) program. Essential components include provisions that free HAs from burdensome regulations and red tape while still ensuring accountability to taxpayers. Also needed is the ability to use all funds flexibly, with requisite oversight, of course. Again, I know PHADA will continue putting forward these kinds of helpful proposals to best serve our residents’ needs.
As past president, I look forward to maintaining an active role in PHADA working closely with the new leadership team. Again, thank you for providing me with the opportunity to lead this