Originally published in Tax Credit Advisor. The text below features segments of the interview with Julianna Stuart, POAH's Vice President of Community Impact.
At Boston-based Preservation of Affordable Housing Inc. (POAH), communication and adaptation played a key role during the pandemic, says Julianna Stuart, vice president of community impact. The nonprofit is an owner-operator of over 12,000 units in 11 states and the District of Columbia, the vast majority of which are affordable housing. Much of the management functions that were done previously on-site were centralized to the main office, allowing site managers to focus on communicating directly with residents.
"We really prioritized the housing stability of our residents while at the same time making sure that all of our financial partners had everything that they needed to feel confident and secure," Stuart says.
POAH's footprint is mostly in the Northeast, MidAtlantic, Midwest and Florida, and while there was a lot of variation by state, ERA assistance was essential in stabilizing their properties, says Stuart. "Our primary focus on some of our higher needs properties aligned really well with states that were soliciting owner engagement or open to us weighing in, or a little bit quicker to deploy their ERA portals than others," she says. "For example, we worked closely with the state of Massachusetts on their program, and based on our latest data, we've collected 78 percent of what we've applied for, and in some places, it's closer to 80 percent and above."
One of the discussions affordable housing owners and managers had with the state included who was eligible, and for POAH, it was important that residents that already received project-based Section 8 rental assistance should be eligible for ERA funds.
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