Fort Mill Housing Authority Successfully Closes Rental Assistance Demonstration Deal

[Photo 1: Nature Trail Crossing]
Nature Trail Crossing

In a 34 year career as a Federal employee, I have learned that faith, determination and hard work go a long way! I say that because as a Senior Project Manager working in Asset Management, I have witnessed many individuals encountering immense obstacles, but yet something within inspired them to be optimistically inclined. One such individual I encountered was Ms. Connie Howard, Executive Director, Fort Mill Housing Authority. Ms. Howard and I became very good "working buddies" via our work on HUD's Rental Assistance Demonstration Program, better known by the acronym "RAD." While the effort was challenging it will help the public housing authority and tenants while addressing the growing cost associated with maintaining public housing.

"This story exemplifies the benefit of our new RAD Program which is the method by which our existing Public Housing inventory and newly developed housing units will be available to serve families that need affordable housing in South Carolina and across the United States" said Larry Knightner, South Carolina HUD Field Office Director.

RAD is an initiative that allows public housing agencies (PHAs) and owners of other HUD-assisted properties to convert units from their original sources of HUD financing to project-based Section 8 and allows public housing agencies to leverage public and private debt and equity in order to reinvest in the public housing stock. This is critical given the 25.6 billion dollar backlog of public housing capital improvements. In RAD, units move to a Section 8 platform with a long-term contract that, by law, must be renewed. This ensures that the units remain permanently affordable to low-income households.

[Photo 2: Ms. Connie Howard]
Connie Howard, Fort Mill Housing Authority, Executive Director

Initially, the process of getting the local RAD project on Bozeman Drive successfully transferred from Public Housing into the Multifamily environment was challenging however, excellent HUD staff such as Yvonne Coffman, Project Manager, Jacksonville Office and Yvette Viviani, Branch Chief, Headquarters, helped in making the process flow smoothly. Their professionalism and expertise were definitely vital to the goal of getting the RAD property transitioned to multifamily housing.

Another key player in the entire process was Ms. Howard who began her career at the Fort Mill Housing Authority in 2000 as a Property Manager. However, her job title was later changed to Director of Housing Services which included duties in a supervisory role and as licensed property management. In November 2013, she was appointed Executive Director following in the footsteps of Mr. Thomas Rowe, former Executive Director who relocated to Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Ms. Howard applauds Mr. Rowe for being a visionary and for his contributions to initiating the RAD conversion at Bozeman Drive, along with a desire for improving the lives of individuals living in Fort Mill, South Carolina.

According to Ms. Howard, one of the important aspects of working at the Fort Mill Housing Authority involves the town's size and growth over the years. In 1970, the town of Fort Mill had a population of 4500 people. As of the 2010 census, there were approximately 37,000 people in the township and the surrounding area. With the population growth came the need for affordable housing as Fort Mill experienced rapid growth yet no increase in the number of affordable housing units. That and the increasing budget constraints eventually necessitated in the Fort Mill Housing Authority exploring creative strategies with HUD in an attempt to preserve existing affordable housing stock for low to moderate income families.

The Fort Mill Housing Authority reached out to HUD and it was very evident in the early stages of those initial discussions that RAD would work in preserving decent, safe and sanitary affordable housing units to meet a growing need in the area.

"When the process works correctly, I think we will be very satisfied with the outcome," said Howard.

Things are looking more promising in Fort Mill as RAD takes hold.

Connie Howard, Executive Director, Fort Mill Housing Authority contributed toward this article. Article prepared by Elaine Bennett, Senior Project Manager, Columbia, Multifamily Program Center.


Content Archived: January 25, 2017