Session Descriptions & Speaker Bios

SAHMA Virtual Leadership Conference Session Descriptions:

504 Panel
A discussion of general Section 504 requirements and general accessibility implications in affordable housing.  This panel will also look at emerging accessibility fair housing issues given a new HUD administration and a renewed focus on equity and equal access.

Affordable Housing After the Vaccines
The vaccines are arriving in the millions, and they work. When do we get back to normal? Not so fast. COVID-19 will be with humanity forever: “Our model [suggests] that once the endemic phase is reached and primary exposure is in childhood, CoV-2 may be no more virulent than the common cold. We need to understand and plan for the transition to endemicity.” 

Back to normal now? Not so fast. COVID-19 isn’t the only bug compelling us to be vigilant: Humans have regularly been threatened by emerging pathogens that kill a substantial fraction of all people born. Recent decades have seen multiple challenges  from acute virus infections including SARS, MERS, Hendra, Nipah and Ebola. Two  decades ago, when the viruses we feared infected ‘only’ our computers, we doubted  them – until our computers got epidemically infected. In a panic, we bought expensive software patches, then newer patches. Finally, the business model of computer virus protection evolved from treatment (scrub after infection) to prevention (continuously monitor and update), from product to service. Applying that evolution to post-vaccine America yields these sea changes: 

  1. Anti-viral habits and procedures will gradually be retrofitted into urban society. 

  2. Housing will be the  epicenter of the economy. 

  3. Health Secure Housing principles will steadily reshape management company operational interactions with residents.

  4. Urbanization and the lure of downtown. 

  5. Private-public spaces will be hardened against contagion risk.

  6. Urban health infrastructure will be redeveloped. 

All this urban health infrastructure will be publicly funded: financed with municipal, state and federal bonds, and recouped via direct and indirect health taxes. When completed, half a decade or so from now, this will for the first time make some of America’s cities 21st century.

Art of Culture in a Pandemic
Leadership is about creating vision, and leading a team through both their management, emotional and character development. What is your vision for character development and culture coming out of this pandemic? The Pandemic has caused a spike in anxiety and depression. More than 42% of Americans have experienced symptoms of both. Leadership in 2021-2022 must include a strength of character, an intentional focus on mental wellness, and policy aligned with a supportive culture. Toni Blake shows you how to lead your teams, lift their human spirit, revive their passion for excellence and reinforce the importance of human connection. 

Capital Planning and Asset Preservation
In real estate, the term Capital Planning is used to describe the process by which physical assets that are used in property management operations and that have an initial expected useful life (EUL) that extends beyond a single reporting period are forecast.  These include the site as a whole, its buildings, roadways, walkways, amenities, utilities and infrastructure, including all equipment, systems and controls. We endeavor to foresee and determine what upgrades, replacements or enhancements will need to be completed at what point in the lifecycle of the property and at what cost. The performance and continued use of these assets is not only critical, but essential ensuring the financial viability, health, safety, and quality of life of the residents, staff as well as other stakeholders. This session will share some best practices on how to optimize this planning tool and how, through a more prescriptive approach. 

Creating an Inclusive Culture (DE&I) Panel

This panel will discuss ways to create a culture of diversity, equity and inclusion. 

Case Studies and Best Practices (Legal) 
This session will look at case studies of specific issues management faced in the age of COVID-19 given stay home orders, business closures, telework, and remote schooling and review best practices to address these issues post-COVID.  Issues include health provider partnerships and privacy implications, escalating tenant v tenant noise complaints, increased reasonable accommodation requests for support animals, and dealing with the aftermath of eviction moratoriums.

COVID Protocols & Preventing and Minimizing Spread

As a nation, we have been making strides towards putting an end to this virus, but what’s next?  As property management professionals, we need to continue to be vigilant and understand that despite the positive advances we have seen to date, we are still not out of the woods yet. We need to continue doing all that we can in order to protect ourselves, our staffs, our residents and our communities. This session will highlight where we have come from and what we all need to do to achieve success not only in the near-term, but well into the future by following good protocols, policies and procedures.  

Electronic Signatures Panel

Electronic signatures and document storage have finally been approved, but are you taking advantage of this capability? Get tips from a panel of experts to see how to integrate this into certification workflows in your software, file review process and MORs to save time and reduce the costs and risks of relying on paper for these processes.

Eviction Minimization Done Right
When it comes to dealing with the looming or present expiration of judicial eviction moratoria, our industry should do what many of us have done whenever the economic times are out of joint: don’t litigate the past, negotiate the future. Post-COVID eviction minimization is an exercise in the enlightened self-interest of workout thinking, whose basic principle is to share the misery. Owners, managers and capital providers need to take deep breaths and reset their emotional tone around three mantras: 

  1. Forget about what they thought they had or may be contractually entitled to claim. Few will ever recover all the back rent owed, only part of it – and the smarter they approach the future, the more of the past they’ll get back; 

  2. Envision how collaborating with residents can minimize the owners’ losses as part of minimizing everyone else’s losses too; and

  3. Share the thinking, especially about goals and principles, to reassure the good and motivate the wavering. 

All of this requires consciously unthinking our normative judgments. A renter’s eviction is as traumatic as a homeowner’s foreclosure. Both remedies are deliberately draconian because the dwelling is usually the only recoverable asset the owner or lender has, and also as a behavioral signal to others that the rent or mortgage needs to be paid or severe consequences follow. As such, eviction is viewed by others as proof of guilt, because it’s the failure to pay what is owed, but what if eviction isn’t proof of guilt? What if it’s a consequence of a disaster beyond the household’s control? Now it’s time to ditch the enforcement mentality in favor of the mutually beneficial workout. Everybody loses in an eviction epidemic, some just lose more than others.

How Changing the Culture of Aging Services Applies to Affordable Housing 

More and more older adults are moving into affordable housing at a younger age and expect to age in place for many years.  As they age, they will have a growing need for support as they experience changes in their physical, emotional, and mental health.   A caring, inclusive, and vibrant community enables everyone, regardless of age or ability, to experience well-being.  Well-being is a much broader idea than customer satisfaction or quality of life. It is based on a holistic understanding of human needs and capabilities.

Changing the Culture of Aging Services applies to older adults and those working with them in any setting the older adult calls home, especially those living independently where they may receive services from a variety of providers, such as home care, home health, hospice, etc.  

This change in the current culture moves us away from a total focus on medical needs to one that creates a balance that includes nurturing the spirit of older adults – creating environments that foster community rather than unwanted loneliness, meaningful activity rather than boredom, and self-reliance rather than the feeling of uselessness.  We will share examples of promising practices of how affordable housing providers are changing the culture of their communities. 

Leading in a Time of Change 

This session is designed to demonstrate how developing and using a coaching mindset is a key driver to leading change in your organization.  The presenters will introduce the HourGlass Mentoring/Coaching Model, which focuses on where you are now and strategies for moving forward.  A coaching mindset is about partnership, collaboration, and interdependence.

Management expert Stephen Covey, reminds us that when you change the way you SEE things, it influences what you DO, and therefore, the results you GET.  Seeing more clearly ensures we get the outcomes we desire.  We will share what you need to know to lead successful change, how change is an ongoing process, and why the connection of contemporary ideas such as reframing, staff empowerment, leadership development, emotional intelligence, and coaching supervision, are the foundation to making successful change. 

NAHMA National Update

The world of affordable multifamily housing is not only highly regulated by three federal agencies, but also highly dependent on the ability of Congress to pass timely and sufficient annual funding bills. This session will focus on key current federal legislative and regulatory issues facing providers of multifamily affordable housing participating in HUD, rural housing and Housing Credit programs.

PBCA Roundtable

Join the SAHMA region PBCAs to discuss hot topics and the latest updates and changes to regulations.

REAC Update: The New NSPIRE Protocol

When UPCS was adopted as the basis of the REAC inspection in 1998, few people understood how flawed it was.  It had little if any value as an advisory or curative exercise.  It often failed to bring improvement to bad properties.  After 22 years, REAC is finally working on a new inspection protocol that will replace the UPCS.  This is your chance to review HUD’s plans and share your comments before the new NSPIRE protocol replaces UPCS sometime in the next 1 to 3 years.  In this session we will explore the similarities and differences between the UPCS we have come to know and the NSPIRE as it is being proposed.  We’ll look at the proposed rules and discuss how to forward your comments to HUD.

Technology Panel

Join us for a panel discussion dedicated to how technology can make your life easier and your communication with your residents more effective.  Be prepared with your questions while these software experts share their ideas.

The Implications of a Recent Second Circuit Decision Holding There is No Landlord Liability for Failure to Address Tenant-on-Tenant Harassment

An in-depth review of the Second Circuit’s decision in Francis v. Kings Park Manor, Inc., et al. regarding landlord liability for tenant-on-tenant harassment under the Fair Housing Act.  This session will also analyze this decision in the context of HUD’s 2016 Final Rule “Quid Pro Quo and Hostile Environment Harassment and Liability for Discriminatory Housing Practices Under the Fair Housing Act.”

Speaker Bios:

David Smith
Founder & CEO, Affordable Housing Institute
Mr. David A. Smith is the founder and CEO of the Affordable Housing Institute, which develops sustainable housing financial ecosystems worldwide. With 45 years’ direct experience in affordable housing, Mr. Smith uniquely combines the roles of practitioner and theoretician, participant and policymaker. His work as an international housing finance policy advisor/ program developer encompasses projects in more than 30 countries, and he is a much sought-after speaker on affordable housing issues around the world. In the USA, Mr. Smith provides high-quality analysis to Congress, the Millennial Housing Commission, CBO, HUD, and others, and was a principal member of the 1996 Senate mark-to-market working group. A 1975 Harvard graduate, he is an award-winning author with more than 400 published articles in real estate, valuation, and policy periodicals, and a textbook, as well as an influential blog. Mr. Smith is also founder and Chairman of Recap Real Estate Advisors, a Boston-based firm that specializes in complex multifamily asset problems, with an active practice area in the finance of existing affordable housing. He has received multiple awards, including NAHRO’s Lange Award and NH&RA’s Vision Award for lifetime achievement in affordable housing.

David Sprowl 
Founder/Managing Partner of WD International Consulting, Eden Educator, Regional Coordinator Eden SPAIN, Facilitator, & ICF Credentialed Leadership Coach 
Before forming WD International Consulting, Walter Coffey and David Sprowl worked in various senior housing settings. Mr. David Sprowl, as the former Executive Director of Lutheran Towers in midtown Atlanta, has extensive experience in staff and organizational development, and led their transformative journey in developing a person-centered approach in affordable housing. He holds a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Georgia State University and is a Certified Eden Educator via The Eden Alternative. 

Iyen Acosta
Associate, Reno & Cavanaugh, PLLC
Ms. Iyen A. Acosta is an associate who represents public housing authorities, and developers engaged in affordable housing development using mixed-finance resources, including the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD). She also represents management companies whose portfolios include HUD and USDA Rural Development-assisted units. Ms. Acosta is part of the firm’s Litigation and Dispute Resolution practice area and represents public housing authorities, development entities, and management companies, as well as statewide and local organizations, in complex federal and state litigation and administrative proceedings.

Kris Cook
Executive Director, NAHMA
Ms. Kris Cook joined NAHMA as its Executive Director in November 2002. NAHMA is the leading voice for affordable housing management, advocating on behalf of multifamily property managers and owners whose mission is to provide quality affordable housing. NAHMA's mission is to support legislative and regulatory policy that promotes the development and preservation of decent and safe affordable housing. NAHMA serves as a vital resource for technical education and information, fosters strategic relations between government and industry, and recognizes those who exemplify the best in affordable housing. NAHMA is the voice in Washington for some 20 regional, state and local affordable housing management associations (AHMAs) nationwide. NAHMA's membership represents 75 percent of the affordable housing management industry and includes its most distinguished multifamily management companies and owners.

Michael Gantt
VP, Retired, The Inspection Group
Mr. Michael Gantt is nationally known consultant, speaker, and trainer who has been involved in REAC inspections since they began in 1998. He first worked as an inspector, then a certification trainer, and a supervisor of REAC contract inspectors before becoming a full-time compliance consultant in 2003. His own company, REACSolutions, merged with The Inspection Group in 2013. Mr. Gantt is retiring in 2021, so this may be his last of many appearances at SAHMA conferences.

Scott Ployer
Founder and President, National Property Management Strategies Group, LLC
Scott Ployer is an established, well-respected 33+ year real estate, property management, facilities, construction and safety management executive. His unique blend of capabilities and proven track record for affecting positive changes have saved owners many millions of dollars over three decades. During his career, Mr. Ployer has managed all types of properties including; residential, commercial, industrial, office, and government buildings. He also served as a receiver’s administrator by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the RTC and for Ocwen Federal Bank to manage and reposition REO/MIP properties. Mr. Ployer’s specialties include, but are not limited to all facets of property operations and asset management, development and oversight of environmental health & safety, risk management and mitigation programs, financial analysis and due diligence, capital planning and asset preservation as well as implementing energy and sustainability initiatives. Mr. Ployer is also a national trainer, speaker, subject matter expert and curriculum advisor. Mr. Ployer also provides owner’s project  management (OPM) oversight for a variety of construction, renovation, rehabilitation and insurance restoration projects. As a licensed construction supervisor and former general contractor himself, he understands an owner’s needs and objectives and knows how to achieve them, in accordance with prescribed Codes and standards and within budget. Mr. Ployer holds many industry specific  certifications, designations and licenses including: Certified Property Manager (CPM®), Certified Safety Manager (CSM), Master Facility Executive (MFE), National Affordable Housing Professional – Executive (NAHP-e), The Credential for Green Property Management (CGPM), Certified Financial Manager (CFM), Tax Credit Specialist (TCS), Site-Based Budget Specialist (SBBS) and Senior Housing Specialist (SHS), Unrestricted Construction Supervisor License, OSHA 10 / OSHA 30, and Lead Paint Safety Practices – RRP & LSR Certificate.

Toni Blake
Ms. Toni Blake is a popular keynote speaker and comedienne. Her presentation style is unique with a “laugh while you learn” combination of education, comedy and a large dose of enthusiasm. She is recognized for her research and innovative concepts in customer service, sales, and marketing. She has been published in many industry trade magazines and is a popular guest on multifamily radio and podcast episodes. She has over 30K followers on social media and over .5M views on her Facebook videos. She is a burst of energy and filled with wisdom. Ms. Blake is passionate about being an agent of positive change.

Walter Coffey
Founder/Managing Partner of WD International Consulting, Eden Educator, Regional Coordinator Eden SPAIN, Gerontologist, & Thought Leader
Before forming WD International Consulting, Walter Coffey and David Sprowl worked in various senior housing settings. Mr. Walter Coffey is a national leader in focusing on care for people living with dementia. His career spans from Georgia Council on Aging to the Alzheimer’s Association to senior housing. He holds a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Georgia State University and is a Certified Eden Educator via The Eden Alternative.