Since John Hill took the helm of one of the nation’s largest public housing agencies last fall, his focus has been on transforming it into a national model.
He and agency staffers have completed a strategic plan he says lays the groundwork for that transformation.
Among the plan’s goals for the Southern Nevada Regional Housing Authority over the next several years are making the agency more efficient and user-friendly, decreasing bureaucracy, providing more housing for needy people and finding more outside funding.
“I think it was really clear there needed to be a remake in the delivery of housing services and programs for low-income families in Clark County,” Hill said. “They will see a staff that’s more customer-friendly and a bureaucracy that’s been reduced.”
The regional agency was born in late 2009 with the merger of the Las Vegas and Clark County housing authorities. The long-troubled North Las Vegas Housing Authority folded into the regional agency in December.
The three-agency merger was the first of its kind in the nation, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The regional agency, tasked with providing housing for some of the valley’s poorest residents, has an annual budget of $131 million and 255 employees. It manages 2,751 public housing units and about 10,000 rental vouchers.
The average household income of families in the agency’s public housing is $10,814.
One of the first orders of business at the new agency was to redesign its previously sparse website, www.snvrha.org. The site is more accessible and includes photos of public housing communities and quick links to information, agendas and contacts. The new strategic plan is available on the home page.
The plan’s goals for this year include creating an emergency shelter plan in a natural disaster and establishing a “customer service excellence review team.”
Long-term goals include putting housing applications online, increasing the number of housing options for low-income families and identifying alternative forms of funding.
“We want to reduce the dependency on federal funding in general,” Hill said.
That’s because the amount of federal funding for public housing agencies isn’t consistent.
The agency hopes to diversify in part by expanding its affordable housing program, which isn’t tied to federal money, Hill said. The agency owns 960 unsubsidized affordable housing units.
“We could grow that into a real estate conglomerate,” he said.
The strategic plan provides the agency with a “road map to help us stay focused,” Hill said. “This represents all the people of Southern Nevada, whether in public housing or not. We are all stakeholders.”