Written by: Tyrone Roderick Williams
CEO, Fresno Housing Authority, Fresno CA
AABLI Alumnus Class #17
The pandemic has disproportionately impacted lower and moderate income wage earners, who tend to be people of color and women, as well as historically marginalized communities. During the past two years, the housing crisis has shifted from bad to worse as workers are forced to choose between earning an income and jeopardizing their health. While rental assistance programs have provided a safety net for some, the underlying issues of housing insecurity will plague us long after the pandemic has receded.
This is a national challenge. Both urban and rural communities are grappling with it. Elected and civic leaders are all aware of the vast array of housing needs. The issue comes down to fundamental delivery systems for housing production and funding at the local, state and federal levels. While some gains have been made at the local and state level, the federal response to this crisis has been woefully deficient. A massive infusion of federal subsidy funding is required to address the growing need for affordable housing and for rental and homeownership opportunities.
I was recently appointed CEO of the Fresno Housing Authority in Fresno, California. My appointment directly results from the board’s search for a leader who could bring a broader lens and a more determined approach to the housing and community development issues facing our city and county.
I am the first African American to serve in this position. In addition, my board recently reappointed an African American woman as board chair.
A commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion matters in all organizations, especially at the board level. Far too many decision-makers have little or no marketplace experience and have limited perspectives. One way to increase the possibility of success and reduce the tragedy of unintended consequences is to promote and maintain board diversity. That means including people who traditionally have been excluded.
It is not unusual for people living through the housing crisis to be viewed merely as statistics.. We are uniquely positioned to bring the human element to the conversations. For example, I serve on the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco Affordable Housing Advisory Council. Others with practical and relevant housing experience should also diligently seek board-level positions in all sectors, including nonprofit and for profit organizations and companies. Our voices are absolutely essential to the kind of balanced perspectives that impact affordable housing policy, production, and preservation.
When people of color are involved in board discussions, our broader points of view often lead to more enlightened thinking and, ultimately, improved program outcomes and company profitability.
I invite AABLI members and others to join me in this tough effort to end the housing crisis by pursuing board-level service opportunities in the housing industry. We need your brains, your energy and your vision.
This blog is not written by aabli.org or The African American Board Leadership Institute. The author is solely responsible for the content.