President and CEO
Kelvin A. Jeremiah has served as President and CEO of the Philadelphia Housing Authority, the fourth largest public housing authority in the United States and the largest provider of affordable housing in Pennsylvania, since March 2013.
Since his arrival at PHA in 2011, first as Director of Audit and Compliance and then as Administrative Receiver, Mr. Jeremiah implemented a comprehensive set of organizational and financial reforms and completed a Recovery Plan that addressed all of the management and governance deficiencies, which led to the HUD Administrative Receivership and ultimately resulted in the return of PHA to local control.
In addition, he forged a collaborative working relationship with PHA resident leaders, which has provided them with greater say within the organization and resulted in the implementation of programs such as entrepreneurship and start-up business training and coaching for PHA youth and residents. During the pandemic, resident leaders worked with PHA staff and Temple University’s College of Public Health to sign up and offer free Coronavirus vaccinations at PHA sites located in some of the most vulnerable zip codes. PHA also partnered with other partners at Temple University to provide improved access to health services during the pandemic. Responding to the recent rise in food insecurity, including youth who no longer could participate in school-based meal programs, PHA partnered with resident leaders to provide free meals to over 8,000 children. Meals were also distributed to senior citizens and families in partnership with Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Corporation for Aging.
The early reform actions taken by Mr. Jeremiah laid the foundation for a series of transformational initiatives to preserve and expand affordable housing, revitalize neighborhoods through equitable development, and promote economic and educational opportunities for PHA residents and clients.
To date, he has overseen the construction, rehabilitation, and/or preservation of over 4,500 affordable housing units; repositioned and preserved PHA’s public housing portfolio through conversion to project-based assistance under the Rental Assistance Demonstration program that has closed on over 1,600 units at 24 developments as of April 2021; and, leveraged over $1.1 billion in construction activity. This includes over 600 new public housing units completed or under construction at 15 developments sponsored by local partners and over 3,900 long-term affordable units completed or under construction at 61 housing developments sponsored by PHA or local partners. His success in securing significant capital funding enhanced these initiatives: PHA received two Choice Neighborhoods Implementation grants, two Choice Neighborhoods Planning Grants, and multiple 9% Low Income Housing Tax Credit awards.
To breathe life into low-income communities, developers must focus on creating opportunities for people as well as new housing. This comprehensive approach to holistic and equitable neighborhood development is underway now in Sharswood/Blumberg, where PHA, in collaboration with the City, residents, and an array of committed partners, is revitalizing the neighborhood that has suffered through decades of disinvestment and closures of businesses and services. It was the site of the former Blumberg public housing development, making it one of the City’s most distressed, poverty-impacted communities.
Based on a comprehensive planning process and partially funded with a $30 million Choice Neighborhoods implementation grant secured in 2020, the transformation will include over 1,200 new, mixed-income rental and homeownership units and substantial educational, service, and commercial facilities to support a vibrant urban neighborhood. As of April 2021, a total of 443 units have been completed or under construction.
PHA’s strong commitment to Sharswood stands for all to see: It built its new headquarters in the neighborhood, which created an anchor for the Ridge Avenue commercial district and brought new workers and consumers into the area. A groundbreaking recently was held for a $53 million mixed-use housing and retail complex that will include 100 units of new housing along with a grocery store, bank, urgent health care center, and other retail services. PHA also acquired the previously vacant Vaux School and, through a collaboration with the School District of Philadelphia and Big Picture Schools, opened in late 2017 a neighborhood high school that includes extensive family support services. The Vaux Community Building now houses PHA’s new Workforce Center, a health clinic, and other supportive services to assist residents as they work to change the trajectory of their lives.
In addition to his focus on redevelopment and neighborhood revitalization, Mr. Jeremiah expanded PHA’s partnership with the City to provide up to 500 permanent housing opportunities each year for homeless families and individuals. He also reallocated resources so that over 2,000 additional rental vouchers could be issued and leased up to households from PHA’s years-long wait list.
Over this same period, he significantly strengthened PHA’s first-time homeownership programs, which offer the keys to successful homeownership: credit repair, housing counseling, and, in some cases, financial supports and incentives to create and build savings. These initiatives have put more than 475 public housing and voucher program participants on the path to homeownership, a primary means of wealth creation. They address the primary challenges facing many first-time homeowners: credit worthiness, housing acumen, and fair treatment by providing access to reputable lenders.
He established the Philly SEEDS non-profit, which, to date, has provided over 450 young residents with over $1.7 million in scholarship assistance, enabling them to pursue their educational dreams. Philly SEEDS has distributed thousands of book bags each year to PHA youth, helping to ensure that they have the tools and supplies needed to get a head start for the new school year.
To address the COVID-19 pandemic, Mr. Jeremiah implemented one of the first eviction moratorium programs in the nation to promote housing stability while overseeing the transformation of operating procedures to ensure that essential housing management and facility maintenance operations were provided to residents at 45 multifamily developments across the city.
Under his leadership, PHA collaborated with philanthropy, service partners, and local government to create new virtual programming/service options, improve internet access at PHA sites, and provide mobile devices to residents so that services could continue uninterrupted. Community centers at PHA developments were retrofitted to serve as safe spaces for children to learn.
As affordable housing rose to the top of the list of Philadelphia’s pressing needs, Mr. Jeremiah played a decisive leadership role in peacefully and amicably resolving a volatile situation involving encampments of housing activists and homeless persons who gathered across from PHA headquarters and on the Parkway during the pandemic. After four months of intense negotiations, and with the direct engagement of the City, local unions, and others, an agreement was struck that provides for housing and job opportunities for those experiencing homelessness, including an innovative pilot program with the Building and Construction Trades Council. This creative response helped protect the rights of those already on PHA’s current waitlists and avoided the violence and turmoil that erupted in other major cities.
PHA has also increased supplier diversity during Mr. Jeremiah’s tenure by removing barriers to entry and increasing economic opportunity for small businesses, a number of them minority- and/or women-owned. The Philadelphia Business Journal has honored him as a Minority Business Advocate and as one of the Most Admired CEOs for established leaders with a strong record of innovation, outstanding financial performance, commitment to quality and workplace diversity, and meaningful contributions to the wellbeing of the Greater Philadelphia/New Jersey region.
Before joining PHA, Mr. Jeremiah served as the Inspector General for the New York City Housing Authority. Before that, he was Deputy Director at Springfield Housing Authority in Springfield, Massachusetts. Previous appointments include Compliance Officer at the Commission Against Discrimination in Springfield, and Regional Contracts Manager and Monitoring Coordinator for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ Department of Early Care and Education.
He emigrated from Grenada to the United States as a teenager with his family to New York City, attending city public schools. He received a Bachelor’s degree in History/Business Administration from Pace University, a Master of Arts in American Social History from Rutgers University, and a Master of Public Administration from American International College. He is married and has three children; the family resides in northwest Philadelphia.