by Mary Owens, USICH Program Assistant
On July 19, 2014, USICH Executive Director Laura Zeilinger joined NAHRO President Preston Prince in an open discussion with housing officials from across the country at the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO) Summer Conference in Tampa, FL. NAHRO is a professional membership organization comprised of housing officials who administer affordable housing and community development programs at the local level. The Summer Conference provided more than 450 practitioners across the country an opportunity to learn how public, private, and nonprofit groups are overcoming challenges to create affordable housing and build stronger communities.
In her remarks, Zeilinger stressed the critical role public housing agencies (PHAs) play in providing the affordable housing necessary for families and individuals to overcome homelessness. She highlighted a growing number of PHAs that are leading the effort to prevent and end homelessness in their communities by innovating ways to connect housing with services. "When PHAs come to the table you bring others in your community with you," she told attendees. "PHAs driving progress have demonstrated the ability to overcome barriers by creating meaningful partnerships on a local level with schools, community health centers, and other community-based services." She also urged PHAs to serve on Continuum of Care boards to actively participate in the formulation and implementation of local planning efforts to end homelessness.
She also acknowledged the financial challenges that PHAs face due to budget cuts and sequestration and affirmed the Administration's commitment to provide PHAs additional resources. PHAs experiencing financial constraints are also encouraged to explore with local service providers ways they might offset administrative costs by taking steps to mitigate challenges associated with repeated apartment inspections, application processing, and housing searches.