AFFORDABLE HOUSERS
The Best Resource For Learning From Housers Just Like You!
May 2020
Greetings Housers,

“Covid-19 has impacted the housing industry in numerous ways; we’ve seen physical distancing employed to safe guard our community and vulnerable members of our society from infection, we have seen many businesses shut down – some permanently – to prevent the gathering of individuals in an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19, and we’ve seen massive unemployment; at levels far beyond the experiences we have had in recent history. Yes we are facing some challenging times; and I know many of us in the industry are ready to assume an expanded role in providing the necessary housing assistance our community needs.

And yet, we must adjust to a new reality. A majority of our interactions have happened online- and we know that there are digital divides within our community and those we serve. We’ve had fluctuating budgets, and we await federal legislation that will determine the extent of our efforts. As we adjust to all of that, I want to thank all of you for your work, and I will continue to support you in whatever I can, with whatever you need.

In the meantime, the Pacific Northwest Region Council Planning Committee has had conversations about holding an exciting fall conference online, and have extensively brainstormed the future of involvement, convening, and advocacy. And I’ll say this much; I’m excited for the offerings ahead.

Please stay healthy, stay safe, and if you can, stay home.

Cupid Alexander

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Graham, TX 76450
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We know that information has been hitting you at all angles, so we here at PNRC have been diligently working to try and filter all of that information to one location.
If you come across something you believe needs to be on here simply email us at pnrc@nahro.org. Stay Safe!
Webinar Trainings Coming Up!
With the postponment of the Annual Conference and the nationwide pandemic not allowing us to meet in person. PNRC has partnered with National NAHRO to provide you with multiple training opportunities whether you are working from home or in the office.
Here is a list of the upcoming courses and links to register.
If you want to register by credit card click on the link below; if you want to be invoiced and pay by check simply email pnrc@nahro.org and we will get you registered.
Procurement & Contract Management
Cost: $300 per person No Exam
NAHRO's Procurement and Contract Management Seminar is completely revised and updated for HUD's new handbook 7460.8 REV 2. Understanding the new handbook and how it interfaces with the asset management paradigm will help your agency in determining responsibility and accountability at the development site. You will learn how to procure quality goods and services for the right cost, the highest quality, for timely delivery, and in compliance with applicable laws and policies. The training covers estimating costs of goods and services, and developing criteria for analysis of proposals.
Fair Housing w/ Proficiency Exam, June 8-11
Cost: $300 per member (Exam included)
This two-day training program will focus on Fair Housing within the Assisted Housing Programs with a special emphasis on the Public Housing and Housing Choice Voucher Programs. The program will begin with the basics of Fair Housing, but then will take you deep into the Fair Housing process, program specific requirements, best practices, resolutions of complaints, 504 standards and processing reasonable accommodation requests. It will provide the latest information on the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), the newest protected classes, Limited English Proficiency (LEP) and other federal provisions. The seminar will also include information on cases for Fair Housing violations, voluntary compliance agreements and special conditions that may be required by HUD or DOJ.
Latest News From National NAHRO
Conference Update
Coming Friday, May 22nd!
Special Announcement about the Upcoming PNRC NAHRO Annual Conference!
Longtime Bremerton Housing Authority Director Set to Depart
Kurt Wiest, the longtime head of the Bremerton Housing Authority, is set to leave the agency in late June after 14 years leading its affordable housing programs in Bremerton
In an announcement to staff on Monday, Wiest said he will start as the executive director of the Housing Authority of Alameda County in Hayward, California — where Wiest worked prior to taking over at BHA in 2006. 
The move allows Wiest and his wife to care for an older family member in the San Francisco Bay Area, with plans to work a few years before the family moves back to Kitsap County for retirement. “It was just serendipitous,” Wiest said in an interview with the Kitsap Sun. 
During his tenure at BHA, Wiest oversaw a transformation of the housing authority, including the multimillion-dollar redevelopment of Westpark, which turned the World War II-era housing project into a new mixed-income neighborhood.
The Bremerton Housing Authority now manages 573 affordable units across the city, in addition to administering Kitsap County’s Section 8 voucher program, serving more than 2,200 low-income Bremerton residents. 
In recent years, Wiest has been a vocal advocate for affordable housing and efforts to combat chronic homelessness, even as housing costs have become increasingly unaffordable across the Puget Sound region. 
That included bringing famed “housing first” advocate Lloyd Pendelton to Kitsap in 2016, invigorating efforts around permanent supportive housing as a solution to rising homelessness in the West Sound. 
The Bremerton Housing Authority pitched in $3.1 million to fund Pendleton Place, the 72-unit permanent supportive apartment complex, which nonprofit Kitsap Mental Health Services expects to break ground on this fall.

Last year, the housing authority also started a rental assistance program to help low- to mid-income tenants stay housed, marking one of the most robust city assistance programs in the state. 
“I’ve been grateful for the things we’ve been able to accomplish over the last 14 years,” he said. “While there’s sadness in leaving, there’s satisfaction in accomplishing everything that was asked of me and this agency.”

Virtual Activities at Nampa Housing Authority Go Viral
As many other agencies in our current state, Nampa Housing Authority has been experimenting with ways to continue to connect with our residents and the community. A lot of our activities have now become virtual. These live videos have gained 80% participation from our residents and community members. through social media we have continued to offer services at a safe distance. We have tried to make our presence known online with constant posts reminding viewers when our live videos will begin. We have also been posting videos much more frequently in order to engage more viewers. The live videos stay on our page to offer people that were unable to view live access to them and to our activities on their own time.
These live videos include our fitness class that would usually be in person are now available to be done from home. Another class that would have been offered in person is a wellness and glam class, with this class we were able to share tips and tricks on how to feel better by adding different touches to a makeup routine you may already have. With these videos we share ideas and create a safe and fun space for people watching and since they are in real time, there is a sense of participation and community. 
Bingo Friday was one of our popular activities in our office. We have been able to continue to provide that activity online. we go live and viewers can pick their cards and they are told when they are near winning. We also give out prizes for viewers that win at no cost to them.
During this time the need for essential items has become greater. The staff at NHA has worked towards continuing to deliver food boxes, providing books for children and adults of all ages. Providing what we can during these times has become our priority, we want to be able to help our residents through providing food boxes or a nice distraction of live videos with fun activities. 
Kitsap Starts Countywide Rental Assistance for Residents Impacted by Pandemic
(Photo Left: Anthony Williams outside of his Sheridan Heights apartment in Bremerton. Williams, who wasn't sure how he was going to make rent in April, received rental-assistance funds from the Bremerton Housing Authority.)
As  tenants face another month's rent due  in May, Kitsap County is going ahead with a countywide rental assistance program to help residents struggling from the COVID-19 pandemic’s economic fallout. 
Kitsap County received $641,438 in housing grants as part of the federal coronavirus aid package passed in late March, known as the CARES Act. That money will go toward short-term emergency rental assistance, split between social services nonprofit  Kitsap Community Resources  and  Housing Kitsap , the county’s housing authority. 
Housing Kitsap will receive $250,000 for its own tenants, while KCR will distribute $391,438 for renters in Poulsbo, Bainbridge Island, Port Orchard and unincorporated Kitsap County. The aid will  cover up to three months' rent for households  who make below 80% of Kitsap’s Area Median Income and have lost a job or seen income reduction because of the coronavirus crisis. It can apply retroactively to April rent. 
“I think it will be a godsend when the dollars are able to go out into the community,” said Kitsap County Commissioner Rob Gelder, who added it will not only provide stability for renters but also help landlords
“It's kind of a domino effect where the ability to help someone with their rent allows them to stay housed,” he said. “That’s good for them but it also has an ongoing effect through the local economy, for the landlord and property owners.” 
Renters in Bremerton have access to  rental assistance through the Bremerton Housing Authority  under a program city leaders and the housing authority started last year. That joint program has already passed out more than $88,000 to Bremerton renters impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. And it will take in another $268,383 in federal funding earmarked for Bremerton under the CARES Act. 
Housing Kitsap is working to get its program up and running as soon as possible, with plans to start accepting applications by the start of May, said Stuart Grogan, the housing authority’s executive director. 
“I think it will be huge and take an enormous pressure and stress off our clients,” he said, indicating that about 400 of Housing Kitsap tenants are likely eligible for the aid. 
Kitsap Community Resources started  accepting applications  this week and has beefed up its staffing in preparation for an influx of inquiries. Jeff Alevy, KCR executive director, says it hopes to turn around those requests in three days or less, which is especially important because May rent is due soon. 
“The timing is really critical,” he said. “It’s a blessing to be able to serve families who are struggling and don’t have other options.”
Need assistance?
  • If you a Bremerton resident in need of rental assistance, contact the Bremerton Housing Authority at 360-473-0325 or www.bremertonhousing.org.
  • If you live in other parts of Kitsap County, contact Kitsap Community Resources at 360-473-2035 or www.kcr.org.
  • If you are a Housing Kitsap tenant, contact the housing authority at 360-535-6100, or visit www.housingkitsap.org.
  • The Washington State Department of Commerce also has rental and energy assistance available for households that qualify for the federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program.
Virtual Public Service Recognition Week
This year Homes for Good virtually celebrated Public Service Recognition week with our employees. We wanted to take the time to celebrate the accomplishments of our employees and their continued hard work and service through this difficult time. Last year we posted the “I serve because...” signs on everyone’s office doors and invited participation. This year we had to go digital and sent out the signs via PDF for employees to fill out and send back. Instead of printing the signs out to take photos, staff took pictures of with their laptops working from home. We as an Agency had tried to make sure to take the time to recognize and showcase employee’s efforts both internally and externally. We shared these posts with the public via out social media channels, and internally through all-staff emails.
DEI in an Emergency
When going through any emergency, there are seemingly infinite factors to consider when not only getting oneself through it but also guiding staff through the emergency. Some factors offer easy solutions and others have more complexity in the response. One of these areas is DEI in an Emergency. I had the opportunity to attend 2 recent workshops on working with DEI during the Covid-19 crisis. The workshop that I want to discuss is “Navigating DEI through Covid” which was held by the organization, Partners in Diversity.
This workshop discussed how employers can address staff needs during this health emergency using an equity lens. The panelists involved were:
  • Tamara Kennedy-Hill, MBA, CMP, Moderator and Consultant in DEI with a concentration in DEI in tourism
  • Tia Coachman, MBA SHRM-SCP, Principal & Founder Affirma Consultants – HR Advisory Services with a focus on DEI in HR
  • Jeff Selby, Communication Manager, City of Portland Office of Equity and Human Rights
  • Julie Caron, PSU Interim Vice President Global Diversity & Inclusion
The panelists discussed examples of how they are addressing the Covid crisis with a focus on DEI.
 
Portland State University (6000 employees with 5 unions)
  • Formed and incident management team to handle Covid related bias issues.
  • Made sure all students had access to computers.
  • Provided wi-fi hot spot access to all students and staff who need it.
  • Encouraged all departments to retain their student employees and if there wasn’t enough work available, offer professional development at no cost.
City of Portland
  • Center data, race and intersectionality in their Covid response.
  • Developed an Emergency Coordination Center that provides Covid information and resources in multiple languages and formats across platforms (written, audio closed captioning & live ASL interpreters in new briefings).
 
During this health emergency, there are many things to consider when responding to staff needs during Covid using an equity lens. Some of these factors shared are:
 
Things to consider when navigating staff through Covid
  • Some staff may not have access or the capacity with their internet service to work from home.
  • Staff who are homeschooling children will often have added pressure and anxiety around meeting their work obligations while also fulfilling their family’s needs.
  • Staff may not have access to the proper equipment for teleworking.
  • Ask the question, “What have we learned in the last month that will change our organization going forward?”
The panelists also discussed ways employers can put “Equity in Action.
Equity in Action
  • Create safe spaces for people to “adapt to the new normal” and balance accountability with flexibility.
  • Take into account all working and learning styles to set staff up for success.
  • What can employers do to support staff of color that are experiencing additional trauma in the Covid crisis?
  • Providing access to mental health services.
  • Create more flexible time off policies.
  • One company is assessing their employees’ needs while work from home by offering to lend desks and additional equipment to staff to use for telework so they have everything they need to be successful.
  • Making sure managers have authentic relationships with their teams (checking in with staff and making sure they have what they need and to minimize anxiety/fear around being open to address any difficulties they are having).
  • Also, ask what is going well to make sure agencies are recognizing successes and building better systems around practices that are working for staff.
There were many insightful things that were shared during the webinar but one I would like to highlight in centering DEI work not only in an emergency but also in general is, “Nothing about us without us.” Engage communities before making decisions that will affect them. 
As we navigate through this time, I am very appreciative of Homes for Good’s quick response in setting staff up to continue to serve our community. There is a lot to be learned from this time and I feel we will come out of this stronger and more connected to the communities we serve and each other.
Home Forward's Family Self Sufficiency Program New Promotional Video
"What Home Means to Me" Poster Contest

As part of NAHRO's Housing America campaign, a poster contest is held each year for children residing in affordable housing and community developments owned or administered by NAHRO member agencies. Posters reflect the national theme of “What Home Means to Me.” The contest is a collaborative effort of NAHRO’s chapter/state, regional, and national organizations. National honorees are selected from chapter/state-level winning entries.

To Download the Application and Contest Rules CLICK HERE All Submissions need to be mailed to the Service Office by May 27, 2020

NAHRO will not accept submissions from individual housing authorities. Any submissions sent directly to NAHRO will be disqualified.
What Should Reopen First? MIT Researchers Weigh the Risks in Study
A new report from the MIT Sloan School of Management offers a model that highlights the risk/reward ratio of reopening different types of businesses

As governors and other political leaders make decisions about how to reopen their economies amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, they’re asking: What should open first, next, and last? How should the risks of spreading the infection be balanced with the benefits of resuming commerce?
An analysis by researchers at the MIT Sloan School of Management is intended to provide decision-makers with some data-driven guidance. It may also help associations understand the risks and benefits involved in reopening their industries.
In the report, titled  ‌Rationing Social Contact During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Transmission Risk and Social Benefits of U.S. Locations , authors Seth G. Benzell, Avinash Collis, and Christos Nicolaides relied on a variety of sources, including government statistics, consumer preference surveys, and smartphone location data. The authors compared around 30 different settings, including fast-food restaurants, museums, and grocery stores.
“Juxtaposing the danger and importance of these locations yields a ranking of what should be opened earlier versus later in the economic restart process,” the authors wrote in the report. “We then compare our ranking to which types of locations have seen the largest actual reductions in attendance.”
Their recommendations based on this analysis:
Open first. Banks and similar financial institutions, along with general merchandise stores such as Target and Walmart, which offer the best balance of economic and social value compared to risk to the public.
Open next. Colleges and universities, places of worship, auto dealers, repair shops, and other stores—with a preference in the latter category given to electronics and furniture stores, which are seen as more essential than sporting goods and liquor or tobacco stores. (The authors note that despite this recommendation, liquor and tobacco stores have remained open throughout the crisis.)
Open last. Gyms, cafes, juice bars, and dessert shops. The researchers state that the value of these places is too low compared to the risks.
The analysis found that the riskiest places in both metro and non-metro areas were sit-down restaurants and fast-food restaurants, but they maintained a high importance in their analysis; movie theaters and amusement parks were ranked among the least in importance but had relatively low risks.
Ultimately, any reopening decisions will involve give and take, the authors noted.
“The fact is, tradeoffs are inevitable and reopening businesses will expose people to the virus,” said Nicolaides, a digital fellow at the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy and an assistant professor at the University of Cyprus,  in a news release . “Our research provides a data-driven framework for weighing risks against rewards. We hope that policymakers are able to combine the results of our study with their own intuition and expertise to make better informed decisions.”
Drive-in WiFi Hotspots Launch Statewide Push for Public Access Broadband
Public-private partnerships seek to bridge the “digital divide” by providing free broadband access to all Washingtonians through community drive-in Wi-Fi hotspots
OLYMPIA, WA – The Washington State Broadband Office estimates over 300 new drive-in Wi-Fi hotspots are coming online statewide through an initiative to bring free public broadband internet access to all residents. Partners in the state’s drive-in Wi-Fi hotspots project include: Washington State University; Washington State Library, part of the Washington Office of the Secretary of State; members of the Washington Public Utility Districts Association (WPUDA) and affiliated nonprofit Northwest Open Access Network (NoaNet); the Washington State Broadband Office; Washington Independent Telecommunications Association (WITA); Washington Technology Solutions (WaTech); and the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI). Microsoft and the Avista Foundation are providing funding, and a national nonprofit contributed equipment and installation.
To date, 140 of the new drive-in hotspots are operational, in addition to 301 existing Washington State Library hotspots identified across the state. All told, some 600 public hotspots will soon be available to keep Washington communities connected.
For complete information and a map of locations, visit  www.driveinwifi.wa.gov . The  map  will be updated as more sites come online.
Launching primarily as parking lot hotspots in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the free community Wi-Fi is accessible regardless of how users arrive at the locations. Some sites also offer indoor public access during business hours. Everyone using the sites – outside or inside – must practice social distancing and hygiene precautions, including staying in your vehicle or at least six feet from other users and wearing a mask if necessary.
Each hotspot will have its own security protocol. Some will be open and others will have Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) safe security installed.
“Access to broadband was a challenge for many Washingtonians before COVID-19. This rapid, collaborative response is an essential immediate solution but we cannot stop here,” Gov. Jay Inslee said. “I’ve long advocated for greater access to quality and affordable broadband for all Washingtonians, and will continue to do so long after this virus is behind us. We thank all of the state and private partners that have stepped up to ensure people are connected today, and look forward to their continued partnership in maintaining that access into the future.”
Bridging the Digital Divide
The coronavirus pandemic prompted a surge in ongoing efforts to bridge the digital divide between those who do and do not have access to high-speed internet connections necessary for distance learning, remote work, telemedicine and day-to-day essential services.
“Depending on where you live, some seniors can’t refill prescriptions, furloughed workers can’t apply for unemployment benefits, small businesses can’t access financial assistance, and students can’t do their homework,” said Commerce Director Lisa Brown. “It is absolutely essential to make broadband universally available to strengthen communities throughout the state.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic is shining a bright light on what was already a significant challenge for the state – delivering ubiquitous, scalable broadband connectivity to all Washington citizens and businesses. This crisis has fueled the energy around seeing these deliverables come to fruition as broadband is no longer a luxury, but critical infrastructure for all,” said Washington State Broadband Office Director Russ Elliott.
Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal agrees with this sentiment. In an April press conference with Gov. Inslee, Reykdal compared broadband connectivity to utilities like water and power.
“Access to internet is an equity issue for our students and educators, and it is intensified by this crisis,” Reykdal said. “I am proud of the work to bring connectivity to our communities, and I will continue challenging our public and private partners to break down systemic barriers so all of our students and educators have access to learn and connect using online tools.”
Libraries across the state have also been integral to the project, turning their Wi-Fi capacity towards their parking lots to ensure patrons can remain connected to libraries’ digital resources.
“Our longstanding mission at the State Library has been to build prosperous and informed communities by providing technology, access to information, resources, and professional support,” said Secretary of State Kim Wyman, whose office overseas the Washington State Library. “It was natural for our office to partner with other agencies and organizations on this endeavor to ensure Washingtonians can continue to access a variety of critical information, even during this pandemic.”
Partnering for public access
Genesis of the state drive-in hotspot project came from Dr. Andre-Denis Wright, dean of WSU’s College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences, which includes the WSU Extension program. WSU Extension sites will host community public access hotspots in every county in Washington state, with some counties benefiting from multiple extension locations  https://go.wsu.edu/findwifi .
“As a Land-Grant university, we saw a way to use the statewide reach of our extension offices to support the expansion and rapid deployment of publicly accessible broadband service where it’s needed most,” said Dr. Wright. “Perhaps most importantly, not only does this help students who have had to transition to online learning but provides critical access to healthcare and improved well-being for all residents of these rural and underserved parts of the state.”
Several of the state’s public utility districts and rural service providers were among the first to step up and use their existing fiber networks to establish Wi-Fi hotspots for public connectivity. Public Wi-Fi hotspots are active today in Chelan, Clallam, Jefferson, Franklin, Mason, Grant, Pacific, Benton and Pend Oreille counties with dozens more planned to include Kitsap, Lewis, Okanogan and Grays Harbor. The PUD-owned telecom nonprofit  NoaNet  has partnered with the State Broadband Office as an information clearinghouse. It reports 140 active sites and at least 60 more activating soon, with more than 70 additional drive-in Wi-Fi hotspot sites planned throughout the state.
“In today’s world, Internet access is a critical service. 20 years ago, PUDs founded NoaNet, which is a nonprofit organization that specifically focuses getting broadband access out to rural Washington communities. It is natural that the PUDs and NoaNet are stepping up to ensure Washington communities have access to broadband as an economic and educational lifeline during the Covid-19 pandemic,” said NoaNet CEO Dave Spencer.
“Almost 100 years ago PUDs were created by their communities to provide essential public services. In the midst of this crisis, PUDs are once again focusing on meeting needs by ensuring citizens have access to the broadband service necessary to support the health and welfare of their families and their communities,” said WPUDA Executive Director George Caan.
Broadband equity is not just a rural challenge. The drive-In Wi-Fi hotspot project addresses underserved and economically disadvantaged communities in urban and suburban areas as well.
Funding broadband as critical infrastructure
The State Broadband Office is collaborating with the Washington State Public Works Board to administer approximately $21 million in state funding approved for broadband expansion to rural communities long term. In addition, $250,000 was approved from the state Disaster Response Account to support this rapid deployment of the drive-in Wi-Fi hotspots to aid compliance with Gov. Inslee’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy order.
The drive-in Wi-Fi project is also funded in part through a donation by  Microsoft’s Airband Initiative , which was launched in 2017 to expand access to broadband in rural communities across America. During the COVID-19 crisis, the Airband Initiative has worked with partners across the country to deploy hundreds of Wi-Fi hotspots to support education and telemedicine.
“COVID-19 has exacerbated the impact of the broadband gap, preventing communities from accessing online learning, telework, telemedicine, and other necessary parts of life during this crisis,” said Shelley McKinley, Microsoft vice president of technology and corporate responsibility. “Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, Microsoft’s Airband Initiative has been working with partners across the country to help address the immediate broadband needs of communities, and we’re glad to continue that work here in our home state of Washington.”
The Avista Foundation, which provides funding to non-profit organizations addressing the needs of communities and citizens served by Spokane-based Avista, also contributed to the Drive-In Wi-Fi Project.
“We are pleased to help fund this effort toward bringing connectivity solutions to 13 rural sites throughout our eastern Washington service territory,” said Kristine Meyer, executive director of the Avista Foundation. “An opportunity like this aligns well with the Avista Foundation’s three key areas of focus: education, community vitality, and service to vulnerable populations.”
Visit the Washington State Broadband Office website for more information about the state’s broadband expansion program at  www.broadband.wa.gov . Follow #WADriveInWiFi on social media.


Local Governments Poised to Receive Nearly $300 Million in Coronavirus Relief
Commerce begins distributing federal CARES Act funds to strengthen community emergency responses

OLYMPIA, WA – The Washington State Department of Commerce announced local governments will soon receive their portion of nearly $300 million in federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) funds awarded to the state to address COVID-19-related costs. The funds are flexible, allowing cities and counties to use their allocation for everything from public health and human services expenses to small business and economic support.
“Cities and counties are the places we live –and they are the governments closest to the people. They are taking extraordinary measures to protect their residents during the COVID-19 pandemic while continuing to provide the basic services we all rely on,” said Commerce Director Lisa Brown. “Commerce is committed to moving these critical dollars as quickly as possible so communities can plan and prepare for safe reopening and recovery.”
Municipalities were allocated funding based on population, COVID-19 impact and other factors. See the CARES Act individual allocations here .
Commerce is now in the process of contracting with local governments to receive the funds. Funds may be used for costs incurred by the local government in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency during the period Mar. 1 thru Oct. 31, 2020. Allowable expenses include, but are not limited to:
  • Medical and public health expenses.
  • Payroll expenses for public safety, public health, health care, human services, and similar employees whose services are substantially dedicated to mitigating or responding to the emergency.
  • Expenses of actions to facilitate compliance with public health measures.
  • Expenses associated with the provision of economic support in connection with the emergency.
  • Any other COVID-19-related expenses reasonably necessary to the function of government that satisfy the Fund’s eligibility criteria.
A frequently-asked-questions document is available here . More information on CARES Act funds in Washington state is on the Commerce website .
Reopening Blues: Don't Count on a Quick Recovery
What will be the shape of the future: V, W, U, L, or a swoosh?
This is shorthand for the direction of the economic recovery. V is a big fall but quick bounce-back to expansion. W indicates a double-dip recession — that might happen if another wave of the pandemic hits — while U signals a steep drop and a harder recovery. A deep dive and a long stay in contraction/depression is L.
And swoosh? According  to The Wall Street Journal , “Named after the Nike logo, it predicts a large drop followed by a painfully slow recovery, with many Western economies, including the U.S. and Europe, not back to 2019 levels of output until late next year — or beyond.”
Sorry, but no one anticipates an Amazon Smile trajectory.
But the experts may be getting ahead of themselves. As a society and an economy, we’re hardly at the whiteboard yet, much less drawing letters or shapes. The shutdown to battle the public-health emergency of COVID-19 was carried out quickly and effectively.
But industries, companies and consumer behavior won’t respond so snappily to executive orders about reopening, whether coming quickly in some states or at a much more measured pace in Washington, California and others.
President Donald Trump is pushing for a quick reopening of the economy. His chief pandemic adviser, Dr. Anthony Fauci,  strongly warned a Senate panel  against doing that.
As a result of the shutdown, national unemployment jumped from a 50-year low in the opening months of the year to 14.7% in April, the highest level since modern record-keeping began in 1948.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said it could reach 20% this month.
The U-6 jobless rate, which includes workers not actively looking for a job and part-timers who want full-time work, shot up to nearly 23% in April.
Even with trillions in federal spending, little evidence indicates a quick return of an up cycle — the W or V scenarios. Key industries such as airlines, hotels and restaurants, remain in trouble of historic proportions. An estimated  100,000 small businesses have closed forever  nationwide as a direct result of the pandemic.
My colleague  Paul Roberts reported  that Amazon’s move to allow engineers and other staff to work from home until at least early October will badly wound downtown, the biggest economic engine of the city. But the policy is not limited to Amazon, nor the damage to downtown.
This metropolitan area enjoys a heavy concentration of tech workers and other elite jobs that easily allow people to work from home for an extended period.
But many more sectors — hotels, sit-down restaurants, brick-and-mortar retail, construction, manufacturing — can’t. Vendors that depend on the tech giants also can’t necessarily work from home. The convention and tourism businesses have been decimated.
How Public Housing Authorities Are Supporting Vulnerable Residents During COVID-19
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, passed on March 27,  authorized approximately $12 billion  in funding for US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) programs to mitigate COVID-19’s impact. The act recognizes the virus’s financial toll on individuals and families, as well as on safety net providers, such as public housing authorities (PHAs) and homeless service providers.
This funding is essential to keeping people stably housed, but it may fall short in providing additional targeted supports and services for low-income older adults and people with disabilities, many of whom live in public and assisted housing.
The CARES Act designates $685 million for the Public Housing Operating Fund and $1.25 billion for tenant-based rental assistance, including $850 million for administrative expenses and $400 million for housing assistance payments. Although PHAs can put these funds toward a variety of COVID-19-related expenses, they will likely put a significant share toward covering rents and keeping assisted renters housed.
If PHAs prioritize CARES funding for rent adjustments and staffing—both of which require immediate resources—they may not have enough funding left to cover everything they need to support vulnerable residents. That’s why additional supports are needed to ensure the health and safety of elderly and disabled residents during the pandemic.
Why are public housing residents more at risk during COVID-19?
In many ways, the COVID-19 crisis has exposed what we already knew: public housing is home to many vulnerable seniors requiring significant support. But the public health crisis exacerbates risks to people living in public and assisted housing and introduces new ones.
More than half of all households living in public housing units— approximately 1.13 million households —are headed by a person who is 62 or older and/or disabled, people particularly vulnerable to the novel coronavirus. In New York City alone, where the virus has made the biggest impact in the US,  40 percent of all households  living in public housing are headed by an adult older than 62.
Senior housing—Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly and Section 811 Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities—houses another  115,460 older adults and people with disabilities  nationwide. And factoring in Low Income Housing Tax Credit properties brings the total number of older adults receiving housing assistance to  approximately 2.5 million.
HUD data also show that approximately  65 percent of public housing households  are headed by someone who is not white. Given what we know about COVID-19’s  disproportionate impact  on  people of color , older public housing residents are at even greater risk.
Before the outbreak, public housing residents were already experiencing serious challenges. Although older adults of all income levels may experience health concerns as they age, those living in public and assisted housing are particularly at risk. Studies show that seniors living in public housing have  greater challenges performing daily living activities —such as eating, bathing, and getting dressed—than their homeowner peers and have higher rates of obesity and diabetes. And  the aging public housing stock  in some places creates  additional hazards  that threaten the physical health and mental well-being of older adults and their families.
The pandemic is creating new challenges for seniors in public housing, especially for those who depend on regular services, such as medical check-ups and assistance from aides, that bring them in contact with staff or others who may have been exposed. As service providers take measures to protect clients and staff, older adults may lose access to much-needed services, such as regular meal delivery and health consultations. Seniors may also become increasingly isolated from their family, friends, and communities as social distancing and shelter-in-place orders are extended, which can take a  significant toll on seniors’ mental health.
How are public housing authorities responding?
Many PHAs across the are on the front lines of this crisis, and many are trying to maintain the same level of service as before the pandemic. HUD has provided only  general guidance on COVID-19 preparedness (PDF)  and response, so many PHAs are following recommendations from local health agencies and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by cleaning and closing common spaces in senior buildings and, in some cases, limiting visitors.
George Guy, executive director of the  Fort Wayne Housing Authority , told us that he and his staff “do not want to heighten the crisis by not fulfilling their primary responsibility” of providing stable housing. And Richard Monocchio, executive director of the  Housing Authority of Cook County  (HACC) near Chicago, said he wants “to ensure that services can continue as much as possible” while prioritizing the health and safety of residents and employees.
Several PHAs are also trying to maintain ongoing communication with older residents.  Home Forward , the housing authority of Portland, Oregon, is conducting regular wellness checks with all elderly and disabled residents over the phone, as is  BangorHousing , the housing authority of Bangor, Maine, and the  Chicago Housing Authority  (CHA).  
Some PHAs are also leveraging existing partnerships with service providers to ensure they continue to meet older residents’ needs. After calls for more assistance, CHA is delivering boxed meals to seniors in their buildings and has staff on-site 24-7 to perform wellness checks. Meals on Wheels continues to deliver food in Fort Wayne, and the HACC is coordinating expanded food delivery services with its local food banks and depositories.
But these response efforts aren’t happening everywhere.  Complaints have surfaced  that some PHAs aren’t moving fast enough to respond to health and safety concerns or to meet their residents’ needs. The situation is changing rapidly, and some PHAs may struggle to keep up. 
How can PHAs and policymakers better support public housing residents?
In allocating stimulus funding on the local level, PHAs should prioritize the most vulnerable through service allocation and staff time. PHAs should continue leveraging existing partnerships to ensure residents have access to essential services, such as food and health care, as well as city- and statewide efforts to support vulnerable populations.
PHAs should also maintain open lines of communication with residents to ensure timely response in the case of illness, financial strain, or other challenges. This will enable PHAs to more effectively deploy federal stimulus resources to address urgent concerns regarding health issues, nonpayment of rent, and unemployment among residents.
In future stimulus packages, policymakers should consider the additional costs PHAs are incurring to provide these necessary services. As PHAs continue to put funds toward food delivery, virtual services, and cleaning supplies, they will need additional resources to bolster these and other activities. PHAs are already struggling, and as more staff take leave because of illness, issues with child care, and other personal needs, they will need to make further adjustments.
PHAs also need comprehensive guidance from the federal government on how to protect residents in the event of COVID-19 outbreaks in public housing properties, which is already happening in places like  New York City . Comprehensive guidance from HUD around supporting older adults and the mental and emotional well-being of all residents can help ensure PHAs have the information they need to best address residents’ needs.  
These considerations should be central to decisionmaking around future funding allocations for PHAs and part of a larger strategy to support vulnerable populations during the pandemic.  
From Office Building to Home
Over the past few years, the metro Denver area’s rapidly growing economy has caused both cost of living and rental rates to surge. Lakewood, Colorado has seen an increase in working families and individuals who are struggling to find safe, decent and affordable housing. Since early 2014, the average rent in Lakewood had risen by more than 23 percent, adding an extra $3,372 to annual housing costs for Lakewood’s renters. For those struggling to keep up with the skyrocketing cost of living, affordable housing is vital.
With land acquisition rates also on a steady rise, Metro West Housing Solutions (MWHS) used adaptive building reuse and public/private partnerships to combat the affordable housing crisis and transform a vacant office tower into a 152-unit community.
Before its transformation, 5800 W. Alameda Avenue was the site of an eight-story office building, six stories were never occupied, surrounded by unused parking. The tower connected to a long-abandoned single-story retail center that housed a dry-cleaning business whose onsite chemical disposal had contaminated the surrounding property. Due to its vacancy and brutalist architectural style, the building became infamous in Lakewood; developers avoided the neighborhood for nearly two decades.
MWHS saw an opportunity. After assembling a team of partners—JHL Constructors, architects from Sprocket Design-Build, and engineers from Martin & Martin and JCAA—a vision for the abandoned office tower began to take shape. The transformation required innovation, both in vision and construction, because office buildings aren’t designed to be apartments. The design team worked relentlessly to ensure that every apartment accommodated families while offering exceptional mountain and downtown cityscape views.
The 14-month construction process presented many challenges. The team had to work around structural columns and rebar tendons that could not be moved, figure out how to meet ADA requirements with a building constructed in 1981, and more. The construction team had to create a budget without knowing what they would find behind a wall. The successful transformation of the building’s challenging site highlights the creativity and problem-solving skills of both MWHS and the top-notch team of architects, designers, and contractors it assembled for this project.
The design of the buildings, which includes amenities like youth and adult education rooms, on-site bike storage, a community room, a rooftop deck with mountain views, and a fitness center, foster community among its residents. Additionally, MWHS employs an onsite Resident Services Coordinator to help residents connect to local resources and agencies. MWHS is committed to maintaining a safe and beautiful building while offering its residents vital resources as they work towards continued financial and economic stability. Although the construction of Fifty-Eight Hundred was funded by several different sources, these lasting resources are self-funded through rent collected from tenants. Now that construction is completed and residents have moved in, all property management is handled onsite directly by MWHS employees.
MWHS utilized a mix of public and private funding to build Fifty-Eight Hundred and provide its amenities. The project is also the first non-light rail and non-Denver County site to employ the innovative  Denver Regional Transit-Oriented Development Fund .
Turning Fifty-Eight Hundred from dream to reality required innovation, a lot of creative problem-solving, and perseverance. This successful affordable housing community stands as a testament to the innovation, collaboration, and passion of a determined team. Through adaptive reuse and innovative financing, a once-vacant office tower now provides beautiful homes and the opportunity for financial stability to hundreds of residents.

More Trainings Provided by NAHRO
May 20: Ethics for Specialists
May 21: Ethics for Management
May 27: FMTP: Increasing Non-Federal Revenue
June 3: Affordable Housing ABCs
June 4-5: What's New With HOTMA and what has been delayed for COVID-19?