As I moved through the house early this past Sunday morning, doing all the usual everyday stuff; taking the dogs out, making coffee, picking up odds and ends from the night before, my mind is on two things: first, I need to get something on paper for Kate and the newsletter and second, how much will change when the Governor signs the Crime Reform bill.
Not just how we do business as Housing Authorities but in the everyday lives of our residents. A huge part of what we are asked to do is keep our residents safe. In fact, in my ACOP, as I’m guessing is in yours, we pledge to do that very thing; provide safe housing. And in most cases, we can control the physical environment. However, sometimes safety isn’t just about brick, mortar and locks. Safety, sometimes, is knowing that when the abusive ex shows up at the door, there is someone to call, who can have that person removed from the property. If I understand the concepts presented in this bill, that will not be the case any longer and until an actual crime is committed, we and the police can no longer physically remove the offender from the property. Sooo…this person could potentially lurk until given the opportunity to commit a crime. I think about what does this do to our liability in the situation? What happens if a neighbor gets involved because the offender continues to beat on the door and scream and yell and the neighbor is hurt by the offender? What if this continues and other residents complain, are we going to be forced to evict the victim to keep peaceful enjoyment for the other residents? So many questions…To be frank, I’m a little frightened for all of us. We will have to find new ways to protect our residents, our employees, and ourselves. I do intend to work closely with my local law enforcement to find a solution that works for us. I urge you to do the same. This is one issue we will have to work together on, so please, please share away with your colleagues. We will get through this; we always manage somehow. Teamwork will be key to solving this problem.
One a lighter note…IAHA has developed a Strategic Plan and the main topics we will be addressing are increasing participation, decrease and prevent burnout and to encourage positive perceptions. You will be hearing much more about this in the coming weeks. We look forward to your participation. We will be asking for “toot your own horn” information and do you have a subject matter “guru” in the midst of your agency? Also, you should soon be receiving the IAHA leave behind cards. This document contains a huge amount of information about us, what we do, who we are, and the amount of assistance we provide. I encourage you to print this information off and carry it with you to meetings, etc. so it is at your fingertips if someone has questions.
I look forward to getting to know many more of you and celebrating successes with you; hopefully, we can do that in person sometime this year.
The IAHA Maintenance and Management Clinic is going virtual in 2021. Join us on April 14 & 15 for great education for your whole housing authority.
The agenda is being finalized and will available soon, but here are some of the sessions you have to look forward to….
- Organizational Resiliency in the Face of Disruption with Bronner Group.
- Maintenance Workshop, both Range and Refrigerator with AC/C Tech
- Effective Interviewing Workshop with Nan McKay
- Housing more Families with HUD Chicago Office
- Blood Borne Pathogens with AHRMA
- Hazard Communication with AHRMA
- Fair Housing: Accessibility is for Everyone? with U.S. Department of Agriculture
- Best Practices under HUD Guidance for Service/Support Animals with U.S. Department of Agriculture
- 2021 Financials: Everything you need to know with BDO
- And more…..
You can register today at the IAHA website here. There is new pricing for 2021. There is a $199 per day per person fee; $299 per person for both days; $999 for your housing authority with unlimited attendees.
If you have questions, please reach out to Kate Cole via email or at 312.834.7646.
We hope to see you, virtually, there!!
This will serve as my last contribution to the great IAHA newsletter as I have decided to call it quits after almost 23 years here at Warren County Housing Authority (WCHA). I helped open the Lowes store in Galesburg, IL in 1996 and thought that’s where I would be until I retired. A short time later I saw an ad in the newspaper for a position at WCHA in Monmouth and decided to throw my hat in the ring. Getting my evenings, weekends and holidays back, along with living four blocks from where I would work sure sounded good to me. The Board interviewed me on a Tuesday afternoon, and the Executive Director called me a couple hours later offering me the job. It was April 6th, 1998. I began on April 20th and held onto the same position all this time. That’s not to say the position didn’t morph somewhat through the years, but the title and office remained the same.
Like all of us, I am grateful for so many things. Among them is having the opportunity to work about 20 years in the private sector, followed by my 20 years in the public sector. I have spoken many times about the great differences between the two, but as I am writing this letter, I am reminded of the similarities, too. First, and most importantly, are those who made a lasting impression on me. Some examples include my boss at Sears who showed trust and confidence in me, and empowered me in such a professional way I will never forget. My HA hero’s include an individual who retired from a stellar career at CILCO, then accepted the lead role at the Peoria Housing Authority. Imagine that transition! He guided the agency during a tough time, but made changes and knew how to get things done, including the construction of many new, and varying types of housing units. He always seemed calm, and in control, and I enjoyed our many visits. At least two of the executive directors I know were once PHA residents, who gained employment at the HA they were living in, then moved up the ladder. Two of the best and most successful ED’s I know. Early on, my ED and I would travel to visit our area counterparts, and I quickly became impressed with the staff at Quad City Metro (I always liked that name!), Rock Island HA, and the Moline HA. The maintenance clinic really opened my eyes as to how large the state of Illinois is, which enabled me to get acquainted with those central and southern counties, such as Macoupin and Bureau, and even further south to Union and Pulaski counties. All types of people with all types of management approaches, yet all focused on the basic goal of putting a good roof over someone, or someone’s family. Very honorable stuff, right there! A few names have to come out, though - Lynn at Whiteside County, Linda at Fulton County, “The Randy’s” (you know who they are), Brent, Dennis, and of course Jen at the great Knox County Housing Authority, who I refer to as a “Superstar” and who helped me present a day-long training at many M & M clinics, which was about as much fun as I have had in my whole life.
The other day I was thinking about how much money passes through every HA. Using average figures, I helped to guide WCHA through about 11 million dollars in just Capital Fund Programs. That is just unbelievable to me. As a taxpayer, like all of you, I have often wrestled with some of the policies and practices we administer. Money here and money there, but imagine not having the subsidies and conducting business with just rents and other, creative income. We were fortunate to have a banker as our Board Chairman for many years. His was a very conservative, accountable approach to the position, and I learned a lot from Tom. He was very respectful of where the money came from and expected us to follow suit. Tom, like my ED, gave me a long leash, which I appreciated and respected. He would question many things at our Board meetings, but fully understood his role was not to mingle in the day-to-day operations of the HA. Our Board never fought, or got political. I had it pretty good.
I’m not sure what lies ahead for me, but I am in no hurry. I may reach out to you and see if I can help you and your PHA in some way such as Capital Fund Program training, PNA, facility maintenance help or whatever. If you think any of your staff might know or remember me, please forward this to them – especially your property managers, who I believe have the toughest jobs of anyone. Take care of yourselves and PLEASE stay in touch!
Warren County Housing Authority
© (309) 221-7080
PO Box 4486 | Springfield, IL 62708 | 312.834.7646