October 2021

The PHA’s Fiscal Year 2021 was like no other.  The COVID-19 pandemic had a profound effect on everyday life at the PHA and in all our homes.  As the COVID-19 operations report chronology reminds us, we went into action immediately.  Like everyone, we first had to understand the extent of the crisis.  We responded with incremental and common sense actions designed to protect the health and safety of residents, participants, employees and the general public.  Fiscal Year 2021 also reminded many that the PHA is an essential agency.  We remained “open for business” and mission strong because this is a place filled with essential, hard-working, inventive and caring employees, guided by a supportive and mission-focused Board of Commissioners.

Some of our early COVID-19 actions included: On March 10, 2020, we conceived then published the first PHA COVID 19 statement on our website.  Early on we focused on obtaining and distributing hand sanitizers, masks and other protective equipment to residents and staff.  On March 12 we distributed care packages to all hi-rise residents.  Care packages included three bars of soap and a flyer on COVID-19.  On March 16 we published and executed our first PHA COVID-19 Action Plan.  On April 2 we published our first PHA COVID-19 Operations Report for the Board.  On May 8 staff distributed a second round of care packages to all hi-rise residents.  We published COVID-19 Operations Reports to the Board on a monthly basis thereafter. Occasionally we sent these reports to external PHA stakeholders as e-blasts.  We tried to be part of the societal sharing of knowledge and best practices.  Later we coordinated vaccine distributions to residents, staff and families.  Other actions continue to the present, as reported separately. 

While we assisted residents and participants, we also made numerous adjustments to our work environment to keep staff safe during the pandemic.  This included providing protective equipment for the front line maintenance staff who needed to remain on-site as well as equipment and resources for the staff working from home.  We utilized virtual solutions and video conferencing.  We learned that some PHA business functions performed remotely are as efficient, and more client-friendly than the previous in-office experiences.  Like many organizations, our “remote versus in-office” plans are evolving to this day.  Consideration includes regular evaluation of process improvements and customer service while balancing our need to attract and retain a skilled workforce.    

In short, as the Fiscal Year 2021 Agency Accomplishments report summarizes, the PHA fulfilled critical Agency Goals while grappling with the pandemic.  We look forward to working with Chair Thompson and all the Commissioners in the months ahead to review the Agency Goals and our strategic course of action for the year ahead.

I appreciate the privilege and honor of leading the PHA and ensuring it remains well run.  That the PHA routinely receives independent confirmation of our high performance (HUD, Auditors, elected officials, City Departments, etc.) is rewarding.  We are a place that believes in getting the job done day in and day out.  I am heartened to attend staff meetings and hear managers quote our mission statement and my short-hand version of it (“successful tenancies”).  Our direction, priorities, roles and responsibilities are clear.  The wonderful staff of the PHA continued demonstrating calm, effective and nimble leadership in response to unforeseen events beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.  These “regular crises” include power outages, fires, property destruction, violent crime, and other disturbances.  We keep our focus on resident, participant and employee health and safety.  We are perceived as a stable and responsible public agency by many in our community.  We will continue working hard to keep our residents and remarkable employees safe while providing deeply affordable quality housing.  Not only have we remained open for business during this pandemic year, we have and are adding more deeply affordable housing resources through our HCV program.

Respectfully,

Jon Gutzmann

 

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