Palazzo Honored as Legislator of the Year by Public Housing Association

Biloxi, MS – Congressman Steven Palazzo (MS-4) received the 2016 “Legislator of the Year Award” from the Southeastern Regional Council of the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (SERC-NAHRO) during their annual conference that took place this weekend at the Beau Rivage in Biloxi.

Congressman Palazzo stated, “I’m extremely honored to be chosen as the SERC-NAHRO legislator of the year. Many people probably don’t know that I actually worked at a public housing authority many lifetimes ago. I understand the struggles that face our PHA’s and that’s why I introduced legislation to help them. This bill provides local flexibility, deregulation and administrative reductions, all of which are crucial to the survival and sustainability of local housing authorities. We need less regulation on small housing authorities, not more. We should put more faith in PHA’s to do what is best for the safety and sustainability of the agency and the program, and most importantly, what’s best for the residents.”

Steve Merritt, President of NAHRO said, “It was a tremendous opportunity to see Representative Palazzo at the Southeastern Regional Council of NAHRO (SERC NAHRO) Annual Conference in Biloxi this week. His leadership in introducing the Small Housing Authority Opportunity Act; H.R. 4816, in the House is a strong and clear indication of his interest in helping his constituents in Mississippi, and his commitment to making government work. H.R. 4816 will help smaller public housing agencies across the nation deliver the housing that is so desperately needed in a much more efficient and cost-effective way. NAHRO thanks Congressman Palazzo and looks forward to working with him and his staff on additional housing reforms and common-sense legislation that creates and sustains decent, safe and affordable housing in the future.”

MAHRO President Judy Mellard commented, “Mississippi Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials are encouraged by the bipartisan support of H.R. 4816 that will give small housing authorities across the nation some much needed regulatory relief from the one size fits all approach. We want to thank U. S. Congressman Steven Palazzo for introducing this bill and for his continued efforts to push it forward. The majority of our 51 housing authorities in Mississippi will be affected by passage of this bill in a very positive way; which will then benefit the residents we serve.”

Nancy Walker, President of the Public Housing Authorities Directors Association (PHADA) said, “Congressman Palazzo’s introduction of SHARP legislation (H.R. 4816) in the House of Representatives marks a significant milestone for the preservation of public housing in more than 2,700 small rural and suburban communities nationwide. His unique understanding and caring for this important local affordable housing resource allows him to offer his House colleagues a thoughtful, evidence-based bill that “right-sizes” the role of the Federal government in the daily operations of small housing agencies. Congressman Palazzo fully recognizes the hard reality of the current funding environment and thus the urgent need to curb the heavy, ever growing costs of excessive HUD regulation. PHADA is deeply appreciative of Congressman Palazzo’s legislative efforts on behalf of SHARP.”

Dave Baldwin, SERC President added, “The member agencies of SERC-NAHRO are impressed with Congressman Palazzo’s understanding of the issues facing small housing authorities. Moreover, we are extremely grateful for his willingness to sponsor H.R.4816, the Small Public Housing Agency Opportunity Act of 2016. This bill provides much needed, budget neutral regulatory relief for small agencies. We look forward to supporting Congressman Palazzo in his efforts to enact H.R. 4816.”

The Southeastern Regional Council of the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (SERC-NAHRO) is comprised of ten State Associations and represents over 700 affordable housing agencies in the southeast. They work to provide quality education and training, information, networking opportunities and advocacy for members. This is the first time in six years they have given out their legislator of the year award.

The theme of this year’s conference was “Helping Solve the Housing Puzzle.” The conference allows Public Housing Agency administrators an opportunity to network among other PHAs in order to better enhance their knowledge and skill set. Throughout the conference PHA’s attend breakout sessions administered by well-known trainers that provide best practices for areas such as financial management, the rental assistance demonstration program, and much more. They also implemented a new track this session called the “small agency forum” to present issues and solutions particular to our small agencies.

Congressman Palazzo introduced H.R. 4816, the Small Public Housing Agency Opportunity Act of 2016, commonly referred to by PHA’s as “SHARP” legislation, in March of this year. This bipartisan legislation works to address the administrative burdens facing small and rural housing authorities across the country. 15 of the current 32 co-sponsors of the bill are Representatives from the SERC-NAHRO Region. The 32 cosponsors include: Rep. Ashford [D-NE-2], Rep. Bishop[D-GA-2], Rep. Fleischmann [R-TN-3], Rep. Frelinghuysen [R-NJ-11], Rep. Harper [R-MS-3], Rep. Hartzler [R-MO-4], Rep. Posey [R-FL-8], Rep. Kuster [D-NH-2], Rep. Thompson [D-MS-2], Rep. Westmoreland [R-GA-3], Rep. Brady [R-TX-8], Rep. Guinta, [R-NH-1], Rep. Fortenberry [R-NE-1], Rep. Westerman [R-AR-4], Rep. Rogers [R-AL-3], Rep. Roby [R-AL-2], Rep. Graves [R-GA-14], Rep. Kelly [R-MS-1], Rep. Walz [D-MN-1], Rep. Smith [R-TX-21], Rep. Allen,[R-GA-12], Rep. Price [R-GA-6], Rep. Abraham [R-LA-5], Rep. Duffy [R-WI-7], Rep. Boustany [R-LA-3], Rep. Ribble [R-WI-8], Rep. Nolan [D-MN-8], Rep. Cooper [D-TN-5], Rep. Black [R-TN-6], Rep. Peterson [D-MN-7], Rep. Carter [R-TX-31], Rep. Aderholt [R-AL-4]