Springfield Housing Authority Board of Commissioners elects new chairman
Long-time Springfield Housing Authority Board of Commissioner Willie Thomas has been elected chairman of the five-member group, effective immediately.
Thomas is a lifelong city resident who has served on the board the past six years. He is the sole governor appointee to the board, and was reappointed in January to a second five-year term by former Gov. Deval Patrick.
Thomas, who was vice chairman before rising to the new leadership level, said he looks forward to continuing the good work overseeing public housing at the state’s second-largest housing authority. And as Executive Director of West Springfield Housing Authority, Thomas is professionally well qualified for the job.
“It is important for the housing authority to continue to meet the challenges required to provide pathways for resident to achieve self-sufficiency and upward mobility, increase the affordable housing opportunities for veterans,” Thomas said. “We also provide housing that our seniors are proud to call home, where they can relax and enjoy the pleasure and rewards of a long life.”
Springfield Housing Authority has a portfolio of 2,397 traditional public housing units located at twenty-seven sites throughout the city, 240 Massachusetts Rental Vouchers, and 2,893 Housing Choice Vouchers.
Thomas noted that professionally, he has a 41-year career in public housing, serving on community and state boards as well as life experience, including as Chairman of the City- Wide Public Housing Tenants Association.
“This work has prepared me to serve in the position of chairman of the Springfield Housing Authority Board of Commissioners,” he said.
“I have seen public housing from several angles and welcome the opportunity and challenges to work in a position of leadership, planning and decision making,” he added.
SHA Executive Director William H. Abrashkin said Thomas’ experience and leadership are already a powerful force on the board, and that will certainly continue has he steps into his new role.
“Mr. Thomas is a highly knowledgeable experienced in housing authority governance and operations,” Abrashkin said. “He is smart and reliable, he has good judgement, and he is dedicated to our main operation of helping people in need.
“He is a widely respected man who has a very good sense of the role of the board as setting policy and general oversight, while also allowing staff to fulfill their operational roles,” Abrashkin added.
Thomas said he has enjoyed all aspects of the work at SHA, mentioning specifically the programs established to promote independence among residents. That would include an expanding homeownership program for Section 8 tenants, and Talk/Read/Succeed!, the family-based literacy program underway at Robinson Gardens and Sullivan Apartments.
He also had high praise for the hard-working SHA staff of 140 men and women.
“The housing authority staff is very professional, competent and dedicated. The staff has demonstrated over the years their ability to get the job done, regardless of the challenge. As Chair I look forward to working with the staff, fellow commissioners and residents,” Thomas said.
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