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McIlwee

Last week our three boards held their annual meetings. All boards meet jointly so it was a good time for board members and staff to reflect on the challenges we’ve overcome in the last 16 months and to create new strategies to confront our current challenges.

The boards voted to approve our new strategic plan which has been in development since October. As a result of the plan we will be focusing on improving our customer service. Step one was to relocate the housing choice voucher department to its own floor at the office on 40 E. High St. Voucher clients now access the department through the rear entrance and are greeted by the housing choice voucher administrative assistant. This change will help streamline the intake process for those who have applied for the voucher and improve the experience of our participating families as they attend their annual recertification appointments.

Another directive from our strategic plan is to recruit engaged board members. I’m happy to announce Bill Gilmartin has joined the Pa. Interfaith Community Programs, Inc. and Turning Point Interfaith Mission boards. Bill has vast experience with housing programs having worked as an undersecretary at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and having served as a congressional liaison for housing policy. He’s a strong addition to our board and will be able to help advocate for affordable housing resources on the local, state and national levels, another one of our strategic plan directives.

Our strategic plan calls for smart growth and management of our housing programs. The boards were pleased to learn that all five of our Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) vouchers are now being utilized. The VASH vouchers provide housing subsidy for veterans allowing them to live in safe, affordable housing. Our recent collaboration with the Arc of Adams County and Typical Life Corporation (TLC) is already paying dividends. Three of our 20 mainstream vouchers are now being used with additional households being processed for the remaining vouchers. The mainstream vouchers are HUD-funded and provide housing subsidy to non-elderly disabled households who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. The Arc and TLC provide referrals for the vouchers and provide support to the families allowing them to live independently.

Another strategic plan directive is top quartile performance at all of our housing complexes. In March and April we had a representative from Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) conduct management and file reviews at two of our properties, Old Friends at New Oxford and Misty Ridge Townhomes in Cumberland Township. PHFA monitors our performance as these complexes, and two others, were developed through the low income housing tax credit program. We were pleased that the reviews went well and “no instances of non-compliance were found.”

A summary of our strategic plan is available at www.adamscha.org. I’ll keep everyone posted on our progress.

Stephanie McIlwee is executive director of Adams County Housing Authority, PA Interfaith Community Programs Inc., and Turning Point Interfaith Mission.

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