This week the Rotary Club of Washington, DC, welcomed guest speaker D.J. Lavoy, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Real Estate Assessment Center, HUD.

President Lisa McCurdy led the Call to Order to open the meeting at 12:30 pm and requested that everyone silence all cell phones.
 
President Lisa McCurdy led us in the Pledge of Allegiance.
 
Carolyn (Carrie) Hessler Radelet led the inspiration with a story about two Peace Corps Volunteers, Robert and Kerry, who served in Papua New Guinea and the radical welcome they received from their host community. She ended with a message of encouragement for Rotarians to live out the Four Way Test each day by offering goodwill and friendship to all.
 
Secretary Catherine Pociask greeted the following guests and visiting Rotarians:
 
Guests:
  • Noelle Lipscomb, Internal Audit Director, Fannie Mae, guest of Mary Goldsmith
  • Jeremy Yanowitz, Manager of RSM US LLP, guest of Mary Goldsmith
  • Chip Hall, Area Commander, The Salvation Army, guest of David Treadwell
Visiting Rotarians:
  • Dave McCleary, Global Vice Chair, Rotary Action Group Against Slavery, Roswell Rotary Past President, Roswell, GA
  • Christopher Puttock, President 2016-17 Rotary Club of College Park, MD
  • David Fishman, Attorney, Rotary Club of Alexandria, VA
  • Audrey Egorov, Moscow New Gen. Rotary Club, President Elect, Manager
  • Bruce Kelley, Rotary Club of Des Moines, IA, Insurance
  • Cathy Statz, Rotary Club of Chippewa Falls, WI, Education Director of Wisconsin Farmers Union
  • Sarah Jane Sharp, Path of Hope
  • Rebecca Tolstoy, CEO, ICS
Bob Schott announced birthdays and anniversaries.
 
Nancy Riker provided an update on the Rotary Foundation. She showed the video “To Walk with Pride” about Rotary’s efforts to reduce polio in Pakistan. They have a new strategy to address the needs of those who are on the move by placing vaccination teams in permanent transit posts near major transportation hubs such as bus stations, train stations, and major intersections. Using this strategy, they have reached more than 3 million children last year who would have been missed under the old strategy. Nancy Riker handed out Paul Harris pins to Jennifer Hara (not present today) and Sterling Hoffman – Paul Harris Plus 8! Nancy asked us to donate to the Rotary Foundation by June 1.
 
Past President Ross Grantham announced an event at the City Club President’s Room for the 45 Rotarians who gave $350 or more this past year.
 
Steve Crane, Member of Seattle 4 Rotary Club, presented greetings and and an update from Rotarians Against Malaria (RAM). He spoke about how Rotarians play many roles in the fight against malaria. He spoke about 2 RAM projects, one in Uganda and one in Zambia. In Uganda, the Katakwi District Phase 1 project involved community health workers and Rotarians working together to distribute bednets, partner in indoor residential spraying and detecting and treating malaria cases, going house to house. The result was a decrease from 50% malaria incidence to 5% malaria incidence in Katakwi District —an incredible result for only $190,000. Katakwi Phase 2 aims to to expand and sustain those gains using Community Health Workers going house to house for proactive case detection and treatment. That project is underway at a cost of $300,000. 26 U.S. and Ugandan clubs have joined the effort, including ours. In Zambia, in the Copperbelt, RAM is working with community health workers and a core group of Zambian Rotary Clubs to mobilize the community, in partnership with the National Malaria Control Program. For both of these efforts, RAM is joined by many partners, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, President’s Malaria Initiative, World Vision, Malaria no More, MACEPA/PATH, and the Alliance for Malaria Prevention. Our club plays an important role. Steve sends his thanks and gratitude to our club for our support.
 
Mary Goldsmith then introduced our speaker: D.J. Lavoy from the HUD Real Estate Assessment Center (REAC). D.J. started with HUD in NYC under Andrew Cuomo 20 years ago. He presented a brief history of HUD and its role in housing and urban development. HUD was created to give people another start in life with safe, decent housing. People were intended to live in subsidized housing for a year and then move on. Unfortunately, many people live in HUD housing for many, many years. 
 
There haven’t been enormous changes since its beginning and the demand continues to grow. The average length of time to be on a waiting list in the U.S. is 14 years. The demand is so high. NYC has largest market of affordable homes and vouchers supported by HUD. The turnover is 1/10th of 1%. People try to will their HUD-subsidized homes to their heirs (even though there is no right of ownership).
 
In the early years, there was very poor financial accountability, no national standards and limited record keeping. They had no idea about where the money was going as records were kept on legal pages.
 
D.J. founded the Real Estate Assessment Center (REAC) to improve accountability in the early 90s. Previously there were no federal standards for inspecting property at the local level and there were vastly different standards across the U.S. There were no housing requirements in the South, while there were massive requirements in New York City. D.J. and his team built an inspection system and housing standards. On the financial side, it was even worse. GAAP was not honored. Everything was in cash with no GAAP principles observed. There was very little financial reporting.
 
They now conduct over 50,000 inspections per year. Their goal is to provide decent, safe and sanitary housing. They monitor housing properties with a standard inspection form and scores gained in inspection drive competition and accountability. D.J. and his team created a financial reporting system. Every dollar is now reported and audited (over a certain threshold) so they can hold staff and housing boards accountable and ensure money is well spent.
 
D.J. and his team also created an Income Verification Program with computer databases to determine the market prices for houses and vouchers and determine eligibility criteria. Improper payments was a $7 billion problem before.They have now reduced it to only a $700 million problem just by creating standards, databases and engaging the community.
 
REAC aims to create an environment where people have increased opportunity to thrive, but the community has to be their partner.
 
What can make a difference? Organizations like Rotary. Public housing is quasi-governmental and controlled by local government. To make a difference, D.J. asks us to please try to influence good people to be on the Housing Boards. Good governance is critically important. Funding is also a struggle. The program is shifting from owning units to distributing more and more vouchers. As voters, please speak up about funding for HUD. Decent, safe and sanitary places to live for all!
 
President Lisa McCurdy presented the tree planting certificate to D.J. Lavoy in thanks for his fantastic presentation.
 
Marilyn Nevy Cruz announced that she had traveled to San Pedro Sula, Honduras, and visited several Rotary Clubs there. They took such great care of her! She brought back a Rotary flag from the San Pedro Sula Merendon Rotary Club.
 
Max Salas announced a Mojitos and Salsa Cocktail Party on May 18 from 6:30 – 9:30 at his house.
 
Raffle Winner— Buz Gorman won $47.
 
President Lisa McCurdy adjourned the weekly meeting with final remarks at 1:30 p.m.