This week’s ChangeMaker is David A. Northern, Sr. David leads the largest housing authority in Alabama as the President and CEO at the Housing Authority of the Birmingham. For over 25 years David has built a fantastic career in federal housing assistance programs including urban planning and policy development. David discusses his role at the Public Housing Authorities Directors Association, why leadership matters, and what the future of Birmingham Housing looks like.
About David A. Northern, Sr.:
David was born and raised in Gary, Indiana. Over the span of 25 years, he has established a distinguished career in federal housing assistance programs including urban planning and policy development.
Northern was previously the Executive Director/CEO of the Housing Authority of Champaign County (HACC) in Illinois and was responsible for administrative and professional oversight in planning, directing, and coordinating the HACC’s varied and complex housing and community development programs while ensuring compliance with HUD regulations. HACC serves approximately 2,000 families in 13 housing communities.
While at HACC, a HUD designated Move To Work Agency, Northern managed the supervision of an $18 million budget and oversight of seven tax credit properties; five Rental Assistance Demonstration properties; seven Mixed-Finance Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) communities; and two mixed-finance communities using no LIHTC. In addition to the multi-family rental communities, HACC administered over 1,200 tenant-based vouchers, a homeownership program, and a rental assistance program for homeless veterans. HACC provides a multitude of resident support and service programs under various HUD and non-HUD grants and in 2020 was awarded a $1.5 million YouthBuild Grant. In the last seven years, he led the affordable housing developments of 10 communities, more than 780 units, more than $160 million, and in 6 Illinois counties.
Northern brings his extensive experience as a “houser” down south to Birmingham, Alabama to the Housing Authority of the Birmingham District (HABD) as the President/CEO, where he leads the largest public housing authority in Alabama. HABD provides housing opportunities and assistance for up to 23,000 people through its combined programs administered throughout Jefferson County. HABD’s portfolio consists of 13 traditional public housing communities with 4,022 units. The agency is also comprised of four Mixed-Finance Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) multi-family communities; two Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) Mixed-Finance LIHTC communities; and a newly renovated senior citizen and disabled residents housing site which is a RAD Project-Based Rental Assistance (PBRA) property. HABD currently has two major mixed-finance phased projects under development estimated to cost more than $40 million and produce a total of 548 multi-family and senior affordable housing units. In addition, HABD administers an Assisted Living/Section 8 program which consists of approximately 5,247 vouchers. Northern manages the supervision of HABD’s estimated annual budget of $81.2 million for Fiscal Year 2021 and oversees a staff of more than 200 employees.
HABD is a mission driven agency that strives to be the leader in making affordable, safe, decent and sanitary housing available for low-and moderate-income families and individuals through effective management and wise stewardship of public funds. HABD’s leadership also has continued to develop and grow programs, offerings and partnerships that help to promote self-sufficiency, empowerment, and quality of life for personal and community success.
HABD provides supportive services to its residents through the Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) and the Resident Opportunity and Self-Sufficiency (ROSS) programs. The FSS program is a five-year, voluntary program for public housing and Housing Choice Voucher Program residents. The program assists residents with completing their educational, employment, and homeownership goals on their journey to achieve economic independence. The ROSS program is designed to assist residents in making progress towards economic and housing self-sufficiency. To accomplish this, HABD’s service coordinators assess the needs of participants to increase earned income, reduce or eliminate the need for welfare assistance, and make progress toward achieving economic independence.
Northern’s educational background includes a Master of Public Affairs from Indiana University and a Bachelor of Science in Accounting from Ball State University. He also holds a Certificate from the University of Maryland for completion of the Executive Education Program in Housing and Community Development; a Graduate Certificate in Public Management; and a Certificate from the Institute for Innovative Leadership Development. Northern completed the Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government Achieving Excellence in Community Development’s 18-month program (which was in conjunction with NeighborWorks America) and was certified as a Rental Housing Development Finance Professional from the National Development Council. Northern is currently a graduate student at Auburn University working to earn a Master in Real Estate Development.
In January 2021, Northern was nominated by his peers to become president of the Public Housing Authority Directors Association (PHADA) and is expected to be confirmed in May of 2021, after currently serving as senior vice president. PHADA represents roughly 2,000 housing authorities throughout the nation.
In 2020, he was appointed by the Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker to the State Housing Task Force and elected to the Illinois Housing Council’s Board of Directors. He also serves as NAHRO (IL) State VP of Members Services and member of OSF HealthCare Heart of Mary Foundation Council. He formally served in the following roles; elected member of the Board of Education for Community Consolidated School District 46, Secretary of the Lake County (IL) Sheriff’s Office Merit Commission and Executive Board member of the Special Education District of Lake County. The last three roles had combined budgets of over $130 million and 1,200 staff.
Northern was invited to participate in a White House Convening on the proposed HUD smoke-free rule in the nation’s public housing with HUD Secretary Julián Castro, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy and other highly notable leaders in January of 2016. LCHA was ahead of the curve as he led a successful implementation of LCHA’s smoke-free policy in 2011.
Hosted By: Katie Goar