Tennessee Association of Housing and Redevelopment Authorities (TAHRA) Legislative Report
On April 11-13, 2022, at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Franklin TAHRA held its first in-person Spring Workshop in several years. It was good to be able to learn and meet and greet each other again.
I am sure we all want to thank president Maria Catron (ED-Oak Ridge), past-president Paul Dellinger (ED-Cleveland), and all the committee members for presenting such a good and informative workshop. As chairman of the legislative committee, I also want to thank former chairperson Susan Minor (Franklin HA) for her excellent leadership during her tenure.
As was presented at the 2022 TAHRA Workshop, one of the primary legs of the TAHRA organizational stool is legislative advocacy. Because public housing authorities (PHA) are federally funded there is a need to keep legislators that vote on funding and/or administrative guidelines and rules, aware of what we do for our residents. Many legislators are unaware (or at least don't have as high priority) of the need for public housing authorities to better perform their legislative obligations. Therefore, the need for advocacy.
With help from the National Association for Housing and Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO), Public Housing Authorities Directors Association (PHADA), Southeast Regional Conference of NAHRO (SERC-NAHRO), and others, TAHRA has actively participated in legislative advocacy.
Although most PHA funding is federal, many times state laws have an effect on how PHAs can better perform their work. Advocacy then trickles down to the state legislators that can make significant decisions that affect PHA management and the ability to better assist the residents.
Several years ago, TAHRA made a decision that it needed a government relations specialist to help make contact with legislators and consult TAHRA membership on the best way to advocate for programs to help us better serve the residents. Harris-Frazier Government Relations assists TAHRA in that effort. Lou Alsobrooks is the contact and has served TAHRA well for many years.
Harris-Frazier (specifically Lou Alsobrooks) has been the main component in arranging TAHRA's successful Tennessee state "Day on the Hill" event in Nashville where members are able to meet and talk with legislators and/or staff while offering them chicken and biscuits and coffee. There is also a training session, many times presented by a legislator or staff, to discuss issues of legislative importance. I plan to present to the TAHRA Legislative Committee and Board of Directors a plan to return in 2023 to the "Day on the Hill" in Nashville if the state government allows it.
Finally, TAHRA has been active in several federal legislative conferences, including but not limited to, the NAHRO Washington Conference which gives TAHRA members the opportunity to meet federal Congresspersons and Senators (and/or staff) within their Washington, D.C. work environments. In 2023 NAHRO plans to return to the in-person format for that conference. If you have not attended this conference or the "Day on the Hill" in Nashville, plan to attend as both have proven to be very educational and rewarding.
Micheal A. Miller
Executive Director - Bolivar Housing Authority