CEO of Winston-Salem Housing Authority testifies on Capitol Hill

CEO of Winston-Salem Housing Authority testifies on Capitol Hill
November 05
00:00 2015

Special to the Chronicle


Larry C. Woods, the CEO of the Housing Authority of Winston-Salem, testified on Capitol Hill to the House of Representatives’ Budget Committee on Wednesday, Oct. 28. The committee members invited him to speak about the need to change the overall approach to public assistance in a way that provides “positive exit strategies” for recipients.

The title of the hearing was Restoring the Trust for America’s Most Vulnerable [Hearing ID: 104125].

Woods advises that the strategy to success is not just to “throw money” at the federally funded “safety net” programs such as SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), Medicaid, housing and other social services. Instead, fund and support these programs based on hard data reflecting positive results that “grow families out of poverty.”

Woods states, “Our entire system is broken, plain and simple … and it’s broken because our approach is flawed.”

Until now, the focus has only been on “getting people in, not getting people out of the safety net.”

Woods believes the new direction of public assistance programs should be creating and implementing positive initiatives for getting people up and out of the safety net, thereby avoiding a perpetual cycle of poverty. He wants to help the “most vulnerable” populations overcome challenges of generational poverty; a cycle that continues today with few tangible and attainable incentives for positive change.

According to Woods, there are a growing number of agencies (public and private) that are discussing coordination of services, resource leveraging, collaborative partnerships and data sharing, all related to performance-based outcomes.

Woods said, “Just recently, [Winston-Salem] Mayor Allen Joines convened a meeting with leading educational institutions, charitable and philanthropic trusts, human service providers, consultants, housing providers and a host of others to develop strategies to address the poverty in our city.”

Woods testified on a panel of public service providers and leaders including William McGahan (founder, Georgia Works!), Olivia Golden (executive director, Center for Law and Social Policy/CLASP) and Robert Doar (Morgridge Fellow in Poverty Studies, American Enterprise Institute/AEI). They all spoke on the importance of continuing to fund public service organizations and the impact their services have on the economy.

However, they also focused on how local agencies should have the flexibility to recommend and determine the types and levels of services that best fit the needs of local populations they serve. They stated that cutting funding would only make the matter more complicated with a highly negative impact on the economy on a national scale.

House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price recognized the challenges of non-localized funding regulations and its long-term affects. He described the presentations and full written testimonies of the panel members as “incredibly inspiring.” He urged his colleagues to read the entire testimonies to understand the aspects of what each organization is working to accomplish on a local scale and beyond.

View the full testimony at Woods’ testimony begins at 41:06, and he continues throughout the hearing with comments on various related discussion items.



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