State House Approves Yaw ‘PHA’ Restructuring Bill

HARRISBURG – The House of Representatives yesterday approved legislation, 163-28, that would make the Mayor of Philadelphia the appointing authority for the members of the Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA), subject to Philadelphia City Council confirmation, according to Senator Gene Yaw (R-23), Chairman of the Senate Urban Affairs and Housing Committee and the bill’s prime sponsor.

SB 1174 amends the Housing Authorities Law (Act 265 of 1937) by expanding the size of the housing authority of a city of the first class from five to nine members. In addition, the mayor will be responsible for PHA appointments, subject to confirmation by the city council, for terms concurrent with the appointing mayor and further provides that no elected official may serve as a member of the authority board.

“To the greatest extent possible, we must bring the governance structure of the PHA in line with other housing authorities around the nation,” said Yaw. “PHA is a significant entity that controls hundreds of millions of dollars in funding annually, which is why it is so very important that accountability is restored to the PHA Board sooner rather than later. Senate Bill 1174 does just that.”

As a result of the significant turmoil at PHA that came to light in 2010 and the resignation of PHA’s previous board and directors, the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is serving as the Board of the PHA, pursuant to a Cooperative Endeavor Agreement (CEA) executed by and between the Department and the Mayor of the City of Philadelphia. The Agreement will remain in place unless and until HUD is assured that the Authority is operationally and administratively stable.

“Having the Mayor responsible for the appointment of the housing authority members, subject to City Council confirmation, is a commonly used model across the United States, and one that HUD supports,” said United States Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan in a letter to Yaw. “Passage of this legislation will allow HUD, in the best interests of the (PHA) residents, the City of Philadelphia, and the taxpayers to begin to transition to local control in an orderly fashion.”

Senate Bill 1174 now returns to the full Senate for concurrence.

Contact: Nick Troutman
(717) 787-3280

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