Schedule / Sessions - PHFA Commonwealth Housing Forum 
Connections - 2024 Housing Forum - May 1 - 2, 2024

Schedule / Sessions

Wednesday, May 1
  •   8:00 a.m. Exhibitors can begin set-up at Hilton / Registration opens
  • 11:00 a.m. Housing Marketplace opens / PHFA staff meet-and-greet (exhibit hall)
  • 12:00 p.m. Forum officially begins / Lunch
  •   1:00 p.m. Welcome to the Housing Forum by PHFA's Executive Director Robin Wiessmann
  •   1:15 p.m. Keynote Speaker: Dr. Andre M. Perry
  •   1:45 p.m. Dessert with Forum exhibitors
  •   2:15 p.m. Travel time to sessions
  •   2:30 p.m. Group 1 – 8 Sessions
  •  Sessions include:
      1. Multifamily Housing Programs: HOP-MF, PHFA’s Developer Opportunity Fund, Various Energy Efficiency Programs, and the Federal Home Loan Bank AHP Program
        • Did you know that PHFA has multifamily housing programs in the capital budget that don’t require the use of Low-Income Housing Tax Credits? Did you know that FHL Bank of Pittsburgh is preparing to open another Affordable Housing Program round? Come hear about programs that can create safe, affordable rental units. Potential programs to be discussed include federal programs which come through HUD and/or the Department of Energy. Additionally, there will be a presentation about the Developer Opportunity Fund, which is a resource for emerging developers.
        • Moderator: Jessica Perry, Director of Development, PHFA. Panelists: Keith Welks, retired executive, PA Treasury; Jordan Laird, Finance Director, PHFA; Nakia Parker, Eastern Regional Manager, PHFA; Megan Krider, Community Investment – Business Development Manager, FHL Bank of Pittsburgh.
      2. But, What is Reasonable?  Handling Reasonable Accommodation Requests
        • This session will provide a brief fair housing overview and practical information for housing professionals about the rights of individuals with disabilities and how to navigate challenges in the reasonable accommodation request process. We’ll discuss assistance animals, hoarding, parking requests, and more! There will be 60 minutes of presentation and 15 minutes Q&A.
        • Presenter: Brittany Mellinger, Fair Housing Training & Outreach Coordinator, Pa. Human Relations Commission.
      3. Keystones of Health: Pa. Dept. of Human Services 2024-2029 Housing Strategy and Initiatives
        • Pennsylvania Department of Human Services is excited to release the 2024-2029 Housing Strategy and share updates on our priorities, programs and plans for the next five years. DHS aims to support the health and well-being of Pennsylvanians and communities through addressing housing supply and accessibility, housing affordability, homelessness and housing instability, and building capacity with supportive housing as well as housing services and supports. Specific topics will include Bridges to Success: Keystones of Health for Pennsylvania 1115 waiver, an overview of the 2024 Housing Strategy, as well as DHS housing programs and partnering opportunities.
        • Moderators & Panelists: Stephanie Meyer, Special Assistant to the Secretary, Pa. Dept. of Human Services; and Jean Cho Mosley, GPS Core Business Operations Manager, Deloitte Consulting. Additional Panelist: Rebekah Orlando, William and Hannah Penn Fellow, Pa. Dept. of Human Services.
      4. Adapting Your Leadership Style to Achieve Business Success
        • Business consultant Annie Hughes will share how you can adapt your leadership style to respond to unique situations and the needs of your business team. This session will improve your organization’s overall success and your efficiency at leading your staff. Managing people is a pain point for nearly every leader in every organization, driven by the complexity of managing different types of people in varying situations. This session will provide a framework with which you can institute a new management process to achieve greater success.
        • Presenter: Annie Hughes, Owner, Hughes Coaching & Consulting LLC, and Statewide Coordinator, Invent Penn State LaunchBox & Innovation Network.
      5. Section 8 Housing Assistance Payments Contracts – Renewals, Rent Adjustments, and Preservation Efforts
        • Since the first Section 8 housing assistance payment contracts began to expire in the 1990’s, HUD has provided guidance to owners on how to renew these contracts through various HUD memos, Housing Notices, and the current Section 8 Renewal Policy Guidebook. This session will explore the latest renewal and rent adjustment options available to owners with expiring contracts. It will also discuss options for owners who wish to explore preserving their affordable housing portfolio.
        • Presenter: Jason Long, Manager of Adjustments & Renewals, Pennsylvania Multifamily Asset Management.
      6. PHFA Housing Policy Fellows Share Their Housing Research Vision and Findings
        • PHFA supports an annual research fellowship for the study of issues of interest to the state’s housing professionals. The goal is to promote worthwhile research while encouraging the development of a future housing leader. In this session, the 2023 fellowship recipients share details about their research. While a PHFA fellow, Jongwoong Kim developed a set of publicly accessible web-based and interactive maps, as well as a series of rankings of counties and municipalities, to provide a more comprehensible analysis of the feasibility of aging-in-place across the commonwealth. Julie Wilson has produced a film chronicling Common Roots’ work to establish a renting cooperative through which renters are able to build equity by collectively governing and managing their homes. Come hear firsthand about their research results and show support for these young housing professionals.
        • Moderator: Amy Sechrist, Senior Policy Officer, PHFA. Presenters: Jongwoong Kim, Assistant Professor and Assessment Coordinator, Department of Geography and Planning, West Chester University, and a 2023 PHFA Research Fellow; and Julie Wilson, Director of Housing and Community Development at Common Roots (a community organization committed to developing permanently affordable housing that builds wealth and security for low-income residents), Meadville, and a 2023 PHFA Research Fellow.
      7. Asset Building Programs Can Help Low- and Moderate-Income Families Improve Their Financial Stability – Which Helps Property Owners & Managers, Too!
        • Asset building is at the heart of programs that provide individuals and families with budgeting and money management coaching to help them improve their financial situation and plan for long-term monetary success. Some objectives of asset building include: homeownership, saving for post-secondary education, higher credit scores, and saving for retirement. Asset building benefits property owners and managers, too, since they gain residents with more stable financial situations. Many of the counseling agencies in PHFA’s counseling network have asset building programs, and PHFA operates a program that leverages the support of HUD’s Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program. Learn about asset building program elements, such as financial coaching, savings growth, and other innovative strategies, plus, learn how your multifamily property can benefit.
        • Moderator: Jennifer Kyung, Senior Business Development Officer, PHFA. Presenters: Jarid Shipley, Director of Operations, NeighborWorks Western Pennsylvania; Jill Roberts, Director of Advocacy, Clarifi; and André Rodriguez, Coaching Manager, Compass Working Capital.
      8. Bus Tour of New Tiny Home Village for Homeless Veterans in Harrisburg (Limited to 35 attendees)
        • If you’ve been hearing a lot about the affordability of tiny homes but have never seen one up close, this is your chance. Seeking to end homelessness in Harrisburg for local veterans, Veterans Outreach of Pennsylvania is building 15 tiny homes and a community center on a wooded site along the Susquehanna River south of the city. The $4.1 million VOPA project was donated five acres of land and has received financial donations from American Legions, VFWs, businesses, foundations, and individuals that have helped to make it possible. The development broke ground in June 2023, and they expect construction to be completed, or nearly completed, by the time of the Housing Forum. Each transitional tiny home has a bed and bathroom. To forge friendships, create camaraderie, and lessen isolation, meals will be shared in the community center. An official with VOPA will be on hand to provide a tour, lead a brief presentation and answer questions. The bus tour will be offered twice, both times on Wednesday.
        • Presenter: Bill Habacivch, Executive Director, Veterans Outreach of Pennsylvania.
  •   3:45 p.m. Travel time to sessions
  •   4:00 p.m. Group 2 – 7 Sessions
  •  Sessions include:
      1. A Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Update
        • During the last 30 years, the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program has become the most successful affordable rental housing production program in history. In Pennsylvania, more than 106,000 units have been created or preserved through the program since its inception. Join a conversation with industry experts about opportunities to strengthen the housing credit program, address housing market trends and expand on investment and community development initiatives. Specific topics will include updates on the 4% LIHTC program and tax-exempt volume cap, the current status of the Housing Tax Credit Act, and an update on the PA Housing Tax Credit.
        • Moderator and Panelist: Jessica Perry, Director of Development, PHFA. Panelists: Jacob Fisher, Pennrose Companies, President of the PA Developer's Council; Dayle Dalling, Novogradac; Karen Harris, Partner, Cohn Reznick; and Michelle Yarbrough Korb, Shareholder, Buchanan Ingersoll Rooney.
      2. Data is More than Just Numbers
        • Unfortunately, session 10, “Data is More than Just Numbers,” has been cancelled due to a major life event for the lead presenter. We apologize for this change right before the event.
        • You do not need to change your Housing Forum registration. On Wednesday at 3:45 pm, as people are traveling to their second session of the day, simply pick another session on the schedule that you would like to attend and go to that room. You can see the schedule of alternate sessions in your Forum printed program, or on the Forum website. As long as there are seats available in your alternate session choice, you can enter and be a part of that session.
        • Please note that session 9 on Low-Income Housing Tax Credits is in the Harrisburg Ballroom and has plenty of room for more attendees. But don’t feel obligated to switch to that session; please pick an alternate session of most interest to you.
      3. Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH)
        • How do we work together to advance fair housing opportunities for Pennsylvanians? This panel discussion will delve into putting the law into practice by Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing. Panelists will share about how our housing history impacts our current inequalities, and how we can leverage AFFH to work across industries to advance housing justice. This discussion will inform you about fair housing history, share about current federal actions on AFFH, and highlight how we can all contribute to these efforts. There will be 60 minutes discussion and 15 minutes Q&A.
        • Moderator: Caroline Eister, Director, Fair Housing and Commercial Property, Pa. Human Relations Commission. Presenters: Adrian Garcia, Director of Enforcement, Pa. Human Relations Commission; Jeremy Hayes, Director, Housing Rights and Resources Center, Tenfold; and Clare Twomey, Executive Director, City of York Human Relations Commission.
      4. The National Zoning Atlas has Launched! Plus, the 2024 Pennsylvania Comprehensive Housing Study and Interactive Dashboard have been Released. Hear from the Experts on Both
        • The National Zoning Atlas is an exciting, new initiative that responds to the long-standing zoning challenges that make housing production more difficult and costly in the U.S. By mapping zoning requirements in all U.S. communities and enabling apples-to-apples regional comparisons, the Zoning Atlas can guide local discussions on how zoning can best be updated to support informed community growth. Learn about this smart use of technology, get your questions answered by an expert, and see what it will take to bring the effort to Pennsylvania. A brief presentation about current state-level action on zoning reform will follow.
        • Also, the recently released Pennsylvania Comprehensive Housing Study, produced for PHFA by the Housing Initiative at the University of Pennsylvania, explores the current status and recent trends for housing statewide. The study additionally highlights key information about manufactured housing, lead pipe water infrastructure, rural housing, and broadband access. Hear from an expert involved with the research, and learn about how to access the data dashboard.
        • Moderator: Amy Sechrist, Senior Policy Officer, PHFA. Presenters: Diana Drogaris, Outreach Coordinator, National Zoning Atlas; Jon Geeting, Senior Advisor, Housing and Zoning with 10,000 Friends of Pennsylvania; and Rebecca Yae, Director of the Housing Initiative at the University of Pennsylvania.
      5. Breaking Homeownership Barriers with PHFA
        • The biggest barriers that potential homebuyers face are obtaining down payment and closing cost funds for mortgage transactions. PHFA specializes in providing affordable mortgage options to help homebuyers become homeowners. The agency offers competitive and attractive interest rates for home loans paired with down payment and closing cost assistance throughout the commonwealth for all types of borrowers. Join us to find out how PHFA can help borrowers ‘Break Homeownership Barriers’ with its affordable mortgage programs. Attendees will also learn about additional housing resources PHFA offers, including free homebuyer counseling and financial education to assist buyers with the knowledge necessary to become successful homeowners.
        • Moderator: April O’Connell, Business Development Manager, PHFA. Presenters: Emily Murray and Alex Arocho, both are Business Development Officers, PHFA.
      6. Diversity and Inclusion Efforts in Action
        • Interested in increasing employment opportunities to include a more diverse workforce? Do you need a better understanding of why it matters? Want to learn how a diverse workforce is critical to innovation? In this session, attendees will be presented data-driven analysis and will be provided practical guidance about how to implement diversity and inclusion strategies in the housing and construction industry that can lead to sustainable outcomes.
        • Moderator: Terri Redmond, Director of Counseling, PHFA. Panelists: Dr. Ira Goldstein, President of Policy Solutions, Reinvestment Fund; Catherine Clements-Jenkins, Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Pa. Turnpike Commission; Rose Cook, Senior Associate, Affordable Lending, Fannie Mae; and Carlo Batts, MAI, Rittenhouse Appraisals.
      7. Bus Tour of New Tiny Home Village for Homeless Veterans in Harrisburg (Limited to 35 attendees)
        • If you’ve been hearing a lot about the affordability of tiny homes but have never seen one up close, this is your chance. Seeking to end homelessness in Harrisburg for local veterans, Veterans Outreach of Pennsylvania is building 15 tiny homes and a community center on a wooded site along the Susquehanna River south of the city. The $4.1 million VOPA project was donated five acres of land and has received financial donations from American Legions, VFWs, businesses, foundations, and individuals that have helped to make it possible. The development broke ground in June 2023, and they expect construction to be completed, or nearly completed, by the time of the Housing Forum. Each transitional tiny home has a bed and bathroom. To forge friendships, create camaraderie, and lessen isolation, meals will be shared in the community center. An official with VOPA will be on hand to provide a tour, lead a brief presentation and answer questions. The bus tour will be offered twice, both times on Wednesday.
        • Presenter: Bill Habacivch, Executive Director, Veterans Outreach of Pennsylvania.
  •   5:15 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. Networking event in the Housing Marketplace exhibit hall


Thursday, May 2
  •   8:00 a.m. Breakfast
  •   9:00 a.m. Robin Wiessmann's Welcome to Day Two, and Awards Ceremony
  •   9:30 a.m. Keynote Speaker: LeSean McCoy
  • 10:00 a.m. Travel time to sessions
  • 10:15 a.m. Group 3 – 8 Sessions
  •  Sessions include:
      1. LIHTC Equity Investor Panel
        • Come hear what equity investors are looking for in the current market. Investors will discuss current pricing trends and what they consider when determining investment opportunities. There will be time at the end of the panel to ask the investors questions.
        • Moderator: Jessica Perry, Director of Development, PHFA. Panelists: Adam Cohen, Senior Vice President, R4 Capital; Tom Eastman, Vice President, Enterprise; Macy Kisilinsky, Managing Director, Walker & Dunlop; and Steve Napolitano, Senior Vice President of Equity Production, Boston Financial.
      2. Business Project Implementation Recipe for Success
        • The COVID pandemic was an unexpected catalyst for change. For many organizations, it exposed areas where technology and business processes had fallen behind the times and required updating. It also caused a shift in the way that staff communicate and collaborate. As PHFA transitions from reactionary change to strategic change, the focus of the transformation projects is balancing the intersecting triangle of people, process and platform. This session will provide the key ingredients to project management of transformative business changes to include governance, defining scope, and the management of scope, tasks, risk and organizational change. PHFA’s HR/Finance Workday project will be used as an example. There will be an opportunity for Q&A with the presenters.
        • Moderator: Kim Burky, Sr. Director of Transformation & Operations, PHFA. Panelists: Jason Jackson, Principal Engagement Manager, Workday; Ami Davidson, Senior Consultant, Meridian Partners.
      3. Aligning Interests - Efforts to Increase Investments in Housing by Health Entities
        • This session will provide an overview and update about PHFA and partner work increasing investments in housing from health care entities across the commonwealth. As the agency has moved from a planning grant effort to implementation, there have been a number of significant program investments put in place, and affordable housing projects are looking at establishing and enhancing partnerships with hospitals and health care organizations. Additionally, the state Department of Human Services and other state agencies have been looking at creative ways to accelerate their work in this area. The session will provide timely updates on these efforts and will highlight best practices and projects that are beginning to mobilize resources to create and preserve affordable housing.
        • Moderator and Panelist: Bryce Maretzki, Director, Office of Strategic Planning & Policy, PHFA. Panelists: Amy Sechrist, Senior Policy Officer, Office of Strategic Planning & Policy, PHFA; Brian McShane, Associate Director for PA/NJ, The Corporation for Supportive Housing Metro Team; Stephanie Meyer, Special Assistant to the Secretary, Pa. Dept. of Human Services; and Christina Shull, Housing Program Representative, Pa. Dept. of Human Services.
      4. Federal and State Legislative Update
        • Anyone working in housing must always have an ear to the activity at the federal and state legislative levels for changes that could affect the housing market. Through its policymaking, and by virtue of resources provided, both legislative bodies can powerfully shape opportunities for housing production and preservation. Don’t miss this chance to hear firsthand from key officials, staff and advocates, including HUD’s Regional Administrator for Region III, to gain their perspective on the direction of housing policy for the coming year.
        • Moderator: Melissa Grover, Government Affairs Director, PHFA. Panelists: Matthew Heckles, Regional Administrator, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Region III; Jennifer Schwartz, Director of Tax and Housing Advocacy, NCSHA; additional speakers may include key legislative staff members and advocates at the state and federal level.
      5. Insights & Resources to Assist Multifamily Housing Providers with Residents Who are Exiting Homelessness
        • The average person might assume that the transition from homelessness to stable housing would be a simple one. But in many instances, that is not the case, and this can sometimes make it challenging for multifamily housing providers assisting people who are exiting homelessness. Often, support services are essential for helping residents adjust to a new environment and to gain skills essential for them to live productive, independent lives and not fall back into homelessness. This session will help attendees better understand the challenges that can arise when housing people exiting homelessness so housing providers are better prepared to provide critical support promoting continued stable housing. Helpful resources will be identified, and a case study will be provided illustrating best practices.
        • Moderator and Panelist: Jennifer Koppel, Program Lead, Breakthrough Results, Community Solutions. Panelists: Aisha Mobley, Harrisburg Community Engagement Leader, Breadcoin Foundation; Beth Kempf, Executive Director, Community Cares.
      6. Pennsylvania’s Demographic Shocks and the Ramifications for Housing
        • Over the next 30 years, Pennsylvania will experience three significant demographic shocks: rural depopulation, aging population, and decrease in birth rate. These shocks will have ripple effects throughout the state economy and housing market. Using recently released county level population projection data, this session will explore the historical roots of these demographic trends and highlight their regional differences. It will also highlight the impact an aging population will have on housing and on workforce supply.
        • Moderator: Jonathan Johnson, Senior Policy Analyst, Center for Rural Pennsylvania. Presenters: Dr. Kyle Kopko, Executive Director, Center for Rural Pennsylvania; and Michaela Miller, Center for Rural Pennsylvania.
      7. New Money! Local and State Housing Repair and Drinking Water Funds for Healthy Housing
        • We will learn from our speakers what new funding is available compared to previous years, and what is the focus of funders in this and in coming years. We will dig into how to get your clients or residents served as a non-profit organization, and how to partner with local government funders to get the dollars they need to spend on the street.
        • Additionally, drinking water, and stormwater and wastewater infrastructure, are critical elements affecting our daily quality of life and our economy. Addressing these needs, the federal government recently allocated $50 billion, the largest single investment ever made, and GLO (“Get the Lead Out” of drinking water) was announced at the end of 2023. We’ll learn from PENNVEST about these new funds, who will be administering them, and how they will impact housing development, healthy homes, and community livability.
        • Moderator: Roberta Schwalm, Manager of Special Initiatives, PHFA. Panelists: Chuck Weiss, Associate Executive Director for Housing, Community Action Lehigh Valley; Tanya Allison, Community Housing Manager, City of Allentown; and Dave Henning, Deputy Executive Director for Program Management, Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority (PENNVEST).
      8. Walking Tour of the New PHFA Tower and Historic Hickok House (Limited to 30 attendees)
        • Don’t miss this chance to take a guided tour of the first U.S. office building designed to Passive House and LEED Platinum Standards. A walking tour of the super energy efficient PHFA tower and the attached Hickok House was offered during the 2022 Housing Forum. It was so popular we decided to offer it again. PHFA decided eight years ago to expand its headquarters on adjacent land. Construction included a new eight-story tower and a historically sensitive rehabilitation of the 1904 Hickok House, which was also on the property. Both now provide office and conference space for the agency. Among its energy efficient features, most impressive is the dynamic shading of the exterior glass on the tower, which is computer controlled to make the most of solar power while providing a comfortable interior work environment.
        • SPECIAL NOTES: Before registering for this tour, please make sure you are comfortable walking three blocks to PHFA’s Harrisburg office, as well as managing steps inside the buildings. Umbrellas will be provided in the event of inclement weather. PHFA staff will lead the walk between the Hilton and the PHFA office and will provide a guided tour of the new buildings. The walking tour will be offered only once on Thursday.
  • 11:30 a.m. Travel time
  • 11:45 a.m. Lunch
  • 12:30 p.m. Closing comments by PHFA's Executive Director Robin Wiessmann
  • 12:45 p.m. Forum concludes


Please call 717.780.3915 or email us if you have questions.

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