The Housing Authority of Mayfield was organized in March 1960 as a traditional city housing authority, totally dependent upon the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for programs and funding. HUD programs, at this time, discouraged housing authorities form operating non-HUD programs. The people of Mayfield and their civic leaders were content with this arrangement, even though state law allowed housing authorities to do more. In addition to the powers available to the Housing Authority of Mayfield, the Mayfield City Council granted the Housing Authority the City’s urban renewal powers in March 1960.
State law restricts the Housing Authority of Mayfield, as a city housing authority, to owning property within the corporate limits of the City of Mayfield, but allows the housing authority to operate subsidy programs outside the city. Not having full authority within its service area creates additional challenges and mixed expectations. The Housing Authority has approached the Graves County Board of Commissioners about entering into an intergovernmental agreement allowing the Housing Authority of Mayfield to relocate some of its public housing units into the county. The Graves County Board of Commissioners looks upon public housing as projects and completion with private landlords.
The relationship between HUD and local housing authorities remained the same until the mid-1980 when HUD began pushing housing authorities to provide services and programs outside those historically provided, such as resident service, social services, after school programs and anti-drug programs. Some funds were available to provide these programs through competitive HUD grants, but housing authorities were expected to fund these social programs with their operating funds and community support. In addition, funding for new units dried up, leaving communities with little or no new affordable housing units being constructed.
Major changes in HUD funding and programs began in the 1990’s, local housing authorities were being required to do more with less HUD money. In response to this situation Congress passed the QHWRA of 1998, informing housing authorities, HUD would no longer be their sole source for funds and housing programs, encouraging housing authorities to rethink their role in their community, work to form public, private and not for profit partnerships to provide affordable housing programs and sources of funds.
Changes in HUD’s relationship with housing authorities continued to evolve with the introduction of asset management. Asset management provided HUD with a mechanism to fund the public housing program in a manor resembling the multi-family programs operated by for-profit and not-for-profit developers. HUD’s asset management provided for funding the rental unit and the property on which it is located but restricted funding of the central office and the programs housing authorities are required to provide for public housing program participants. HUD has de-federalized the fees paid by public housing properties to the central office and is allowing other money earned by the central office to be considered non-federal.
Funding reductions for HUD programs continue to make program management difficult at best. Capital Fund is funded at about 50% of the formula with additional restrictions on eligible items. Operating fund is continues to be prorated at 80 to 85% while administrative requirement increase. The Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program housing assistance payment (HAP) provides enough funds to utilize 75-80% of the allocated vouchers whereas administrative funding is also pro-rated at 60%. Increased funding in the foreseeable future remains very likely.
External Environmental Analysis
Politically, at the local level the Housing Authority has no threats with moving outside of its traditional “box” provided the community does not view any initiatives taken by the Housing Authority as a threat to private business and/or property. Public concerns can be minimized by developing partnerships with private for profit, not for profit and other public organizations in the various affordable housing and neighborhood redevelopment initiatives under taken by the Housing Authority.
The state and national political environments are encouraging housing authorities to get out of the box, but more than support is needed. The State must enact legislation such as Medicaid waivers for assisted living for housing authorities and allow city housing authorities to own property and operate its programs outside the city of creation. Nationally, unnecessary program regulations need to be removed in direct proportion to funding.
Economically, the Housing Authority must foster opportunities which will result in new sources of income, as HUD no longer wants to be the Housing Authority’s sole source for funds. The opportunity is there for the Housing Authority to think and act as a not-for-profit corporation. What we in the past considered tenants or clients need to be considered customers who can go somewhere else to get their housing needs satisfied.
With this stepping outside the box comes the risk of failure, but the Housing Authority cannot let this stand in the way.
Programs such as home ownership will provide the Housing Authority for the opportunity to help lower income families move up and out of subsidized housing. Involvement of the various social service agencies is necessary, as the Housing Authority does not have the capacity to fulfill this need. All too often, in the past, housing and neighborhood redevelopment initiatives have dealt with the symptom and not underlining social issues.
The Housing Authority has many collaborators to assist it in meeting its goals and objectives, but at the same time these same collaborators can be our competition. A climate of cooperation and trust must be fostered in order to survive.
Current Internal Environmental Analysis
Organizationally the Housing Authority in 2005 completed a salary and organizational study which resulted in salary adjustments, a salary matrix, and a new organizational structure. This new structure created three departments (Facilities, Programs, and Administrative Services) headed by a department director who reports directly to the executive director. Line staff report to their respective department director.
Beginning in 2008, HUD funding reductions resulted in the Housing Authority replacing two retiring Facilities Mechanics with contracted labor to make units ready to rent. Continued funding reduction necessitated that the vacant Director of Programs and Programs Aide positions be filled with a Program Aide. In addition the vacant Sr. Facilities Mechanic position will not be filled at the present time.
In an effort to increase funding opportunities the Housing Authority of Mayfield has been determined by the IRS to be a 501c3 not-for-profit organization in addition to being a governmental organization.
Staffing is suitable for maintaining all current operations, but within the next five (5) years 33% of Housing Authority employees will reach retirement age (5 employees are 60+ in 2014) and another five employees, additional 33%, will reach retirement age within the next ten (10) years (5 employees are 51+ in 2014). Additional staff will be need if the Housing Authority is to be successful in development of new initiatives. Consideration must be given to contracting for services rather than employment of any needed staff.
The Housing Authority is currently in good finical condition. HUD’s continued funding reductions combined with increased restriction on spending HUD program funds with increased program regulations make it difficult to maintain a good finical condition. The Housing Authority must move to develop new sources of income and continually review all of its operations.
Staff and residents have been kept informed of what is happening, but the Housing Authority has not done much to make the public aware of itself. This lack of marketing is due in part to the Housing Authority’s historical role of operating only HUD rental subsidy programs for poor families. If the Housing Authority is to be successful in moving out of its box, it must create a new image through marketing new initiatives and reinvigorating existing programs. The reduction in funding however is making it difficult to recreate its public image.
Strategic Issues Identification
Moving from a Public Housing Authority, operating only federal housing programs, to the Community’s Authority on affordable housing and neighborhood redevelopment will require the following action:.
Change mind set from governmental to not-for-profit
Form a not-for-profit(s)
Acquiring non-federal funds
Maximize opportunity potential
Looking for new opportunities
Coordination of activities with other community organizations
Redefine the Housing Authority as the Community’s leader in affordable housing
Develop a new public image through improved marketing.”
Development/operation of public housing assisted living facility
Replacement of family units as scattered site
Expansion of operating area