HUD has recently been redesigning its website to provide the public with more accessible and useful information. Part of this effort is House Keys, a podcast series that launched in the fall of 2018. House Keys is “devoted to all things housing,” as the introduction says, and does a good job making complicated housing topics understandable.
HUD says the podcasts will feature guests “who are experts in their fields, unlocking insights from the nation’s leading housers.” The discussions have included senior staff with a lot of experience and knowledge about their topics. They provide many facts, but the discussions are also pretty engaging. The podcasts are also short and focused, lasting only 12-15 minutes each.
HUD has produced four House Keys podcasts so far. They have covered the federal role in disaster recovery and reducing homelessness. The most recent one discussed proposed HUD changes to the Section 3 regulations. Section 3 requires that HUD-funded projects provide employment opportunities for low-income workers, and contracting opportunities for minority and women-owned businesses.
The first podcast is more of an introduction to the series with an interview of HUD Secretary Ben Carson talking generally about the affordable housing crisis. It also has more of the Trump administration’s political perspective, focusing heavily on removing regulations that get in the way of new housing development.
The podcast about homelessness does an especially good job of laying out the complicated issues involved with helping people get off the streets. With about 550,000 persons homeless on any given night, and 1.5 million without a home at some point each year, this is a large problem affecting communities everywhere in the country.
The discussion involved Norm Suchar, a senior HUD staffer who heads the department’s largest homeless assistance program, and Anthony Love, a senior staffer with the Veterans Administration (VA). They talked about how homelessness has increased over the last couple of years, especially in large cities with high housing costs on the East and West Coasts.
They also talk about how the federal government has helped reduce homelessness specifically among veterans, and successful approaches, like Housing First, which have helped thousands of people break the cycle of homelessness. Housing First means that the first priority is to move people out of shelters to stable housing, then provide wrap-around services to help them get back on their feet.
As a housing professional, I’ve been involved in affordable housing for almost 25 years, and I still learned a couple of new things. Someone new to the issue will learn a lot from this podcast, and maybe want to learn more after hearing it. It will be interesting to see what other topics HUD covers in future podcasts.
You can access all of the current House Keys podcast materials here.