HUD Hosts the First NSPIRE Virtual Workshop for Residents
On September 1st, the 83rd anniversary of the United States Housing Act of 1937, HUD REAC hosted the first virtual workshop designed to bring HUD residents into the NSPIRE development process. At this important occasion on a highly symbolic date, Deputy Assistant Secretary David Vargas was on hand to personally welcome and thank the participating residents. “Your feedback is crucial to the development of NSPIRE,” Mr. Vargas conveyed to the virtual gathering of residents that included representatives from the National Alliance of HUD Tenants (NAHT), the Greater Syracuse Tenants Network, and the Public Housing Association of Residents (PHAR). “Ultimately,” he added, “no one will be more affected by NSPIRE and the quality of our work than our residents.”
Before the advent of COVID-19, the NSPIRE team planned to travel to meet residents for workshops and listening sessions with the hope to communicate in person about the residents’ concerns, ideas, and experiences around the inspection process, housing standards, and other aspects of the new inspection regime. The need for physical distancing, however, required HUD to find innovative ways to conduct these interactive engagements. With a quick adaptation to the new conditions, HUD implemented a digital strategy to enable resident participation by phone or computer as they were able, in small, intimate virtual settings that ensured each participating resident would be able to make his or her voice heard in a 90-minute workshop. Over 20 HUD REAC staff members were present to listen to residents’ input on NSPIRE directly from the source.
The September 1st workshop was just the first of many resident engagements to come. Future virtual workshops and listening sessions will offer more residents and resident groups the opportunity to share their experiences and provide HUD insights on how NSPIRE may provide a more accurate assessment of the living conditions in their homes. Upcoming engagements will include residents and resident groups from other areas of the country and U.S. territories, allowing HUD to consider the wide array of issues NSPIRE must address.