Housing Authority of the County of DeKalb’s new top exec brings experience to the job

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DEKALB – The new top executive at the Housing Authority of the County of DeKalb has inherited what he sees is an agency with a bright outlook and is looking forward to maintaining its strong track record.

David Siegel, executive director for the Housing Authority of the County of DeKalb, replaced Mitch Hallgren, who had been occupying the position in the interim since Michelle Perkins resigned from the permanent post in May.

Siegel described the position as his “dream job,” saying this is how he refers to it when he is around friends and family.

Siegel said that from day one, he’s been impressed by the agency, how it’s staffed and how it’s run.

“I’ve made the analogy that I’m a new coach coaching a winning team,” Siegel said. “I have been nothing but impressed with all the people that work here. … I’ve made it a priority in my first month-and-a-half to sit down with every single employee of the housing authority, and I’ve found them all to be really intelligent, really motivated, total professionals. It’s a great thing. I genuinely haven’t deviated from that. I feel like I’m the new coach on the winning team.”

Siegel credits his past work experience at Nan McKay & Associates, a subcontractor of the Chicago Housing Authority, for preparing him to take the next step in his career with the Housing Authority of the County of DeKalb.

“I [oversaw] the project-based vouchers and the housing choice vouchers, specifically the lease-up and voucher issuance for them,” Siegel said. “I got a lot of exposure to a lot of different things – boardings, leasings, all that. Everyday was a test, but it was the type of thing where you were learning everyday on the job. It led me here. So, I have great feelings about my time at Nan McKay.”

With inflation climbing nationally as of late, rentals in the DeKalb area have been all but immune to the rising costs.

“Because our vouchers have a payment standard attached to them – [a] payment standard is essentially tied to what rents were in the last 12 months – and when they skyrocket, that person has a voucher that entitles them to a unit of a certain value,” Siegel said. “When rents go up, it shrinks the market that they’re able to do.”

Siegel said the agency is working with the federal government to come up with solutions to address the local housing crisis.

One solution involves raising the housing authority’s payment standards to match the rental market, Siegel said. The other aspect depends on outreach to landlords, letting them know that the voucher program is guaranteed to be funded, in part, by the federal government, he said.

Siegel said he envisions the housing authority to continue focusing on the basics going forward.

“We just want to do our job as best we can, we want to fill every unit, we want to issue every voucher that we’re entitled to, and just run an efficient program,” Siegel said. “But again, we’re already a pretty great housing authority prior to me arriving here. So, I just want to make sure that we maintain the efficiency we have and serve the public as best we can.”

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September 7, 2022 at 05:45AM

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