WASHINGTON, D.C. - The National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) board of directors unanimously voted onto its board six new members on March 18: Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH) President and CEO Aaron Gornstein, National Housing Law Project (NHLP) Supervising Attorney Karlo Ng, Low Income Housing Coalition of Alabama/Collaborative Solutions (CSI) CEO and National AIDS Housing Coalition (NAHC) Executive Director Russell “Rusty” Bennett, Texas Housers Co-Director Chrishelle Palay, Virginia Housing Alliance Executive Director Sim Wimbush, and resident organizer Yanira Cortes. The new board members bring new perspectives and many years of experience advocating for affordable and decent homes for those with the lowest incomes.
Aaron Gornstein has been leading POAH, Inc., a nonprofit developer, owner and operator of more than 9,000 affordable homes in nine states and the District of Columbia, as its president and CEO since June 2015. Before that, Mr. Gornstein expanded rental assistance and homelessness prevention programs as undersecretary for the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) under former Governor Deval Patrick. “I am honored to serve on NLIHC’s board,” said Mr. Gornstein. “In the face of unprecedented housing challenges nationwide, I look forward to working with fellow housing advocates to build on the momentum we have gained in recent months and to support NLIHC in its efforts to build coalitions across sectors so we can achieve more victories in the months and years ahead.”
Karlo Ng focuses on fair housing and civil rights for survivors of domestic and sexual violence and immigrants at NHLP, which she joined 2011 as the organization’s first David B. Bryson fellow and as the lead editor and managing attorney of the 4th edition of NHLP’s publication, HUD Housing Programs: Tenants’ Rights. “People in low-income communities deserve a voice that supports them in accessing and maintaining safe and sanitary affordable housing,” said Ms. Ng. “As someone who grew up public housing, I recognize the strength and power NLIHC has to effectuate real change for low-income tenants. I’m honored to serve on the NLIHC board of directors to help spearhead change for the long term.”
As CEO of CSI and executive director of NAHC, Rusty Bennett oversees the provision of technical assistance and leads national advocacy efforts related to HIV/AIDS housing, homelessness, and health. He oversees CSI’s Rural Supportive Housing Initiative and national initiatives integrating housing and health. “It is an honor to serve on the NLIHC board, to share my expertise in research and evaluation related to rural and special needs housing with fellow affordable housing advocates,” said Dr. Bennett. “I hope to help NLIHC highlight the housing needs of people with special needs and to leverage research to increase the quality and quantity of the supportive housing stock.”
Texas Housers (an NLIHC state partner) Co-Director Chrishelle Palay leads the organization’s Houston office, providing state and local policy analysis and support to local community organizing groups. Much of her work revolves around disaster recovery efforts, working closely with policy advocates and grassroots organizers in low income communities and with the NLIHC-led Disaster Housing Recovery Coalition. Ms. Palay is a NextCity Vanguard Alumni and Public Voice OpEd Ford Fellow and on The Rhodes School Board of Directors. “I’m looking forward to building relationships and bridges between policymakers and people in low income communities through my work on the NLIHC board of directors,” said Ms. Palay, “and to support NLIHC’s work on the national level for much-needed policy solutions that best serve the needs of vulnerable people.”
Sim Wimbush joined the Virginia Housing Alliance (an NLIHC state partner), as executive director in January 2016. Before that, Ms. Wimbush served as the associate director of housing development for the Virginia Veteran and Family Support Program at the Virginia Department of Veterans Services. “I am eager to be working with a great team of professionals and leaders on the NLIHC board,” said Ms. Wimbush. “I am impressed by the diverse viewpoints and expertise of the other advocates on the board and look forward to helping NLIHC expand housing opportunities and address homelessness for people in the Commonwealth of Virginia and throughout the country.”
Yanira Cortes is a Newark, NJ resident who testified in 2017 before a Senate committee on behalf of New Jersey tenants living in squalid, unhealthy apartments. Ms. Cortes was among several tenants featured in a press investigative series that found serious deficiencies in New Jersey rental housing and was part of a class-action lawsuit against the company that owned the building where she rented her home. “Serving on the NLIHC board of directors is an opportunity for tenants like me to speak on a much larger platform about the needs of low income renters,” said Ms. Cortes. “I’m looking forward to leveraging the momentum of recent wins by affordable housing advocacy groups like NLIHC to achieve new successes for renters in NJ and throughout the country.”
“These new NLIHC board members bring an outstanding diversity of expertise and experience to the board,” said Diane Yentel, president and CEO of NLIHC. “I am pleased to welcome them to the NLIHC team and look forward to partnering with them to achieve solutions to homelessness and housing poverty in America.”
Established in 1974 by Cushing N. Dolbeare, the National Low Income Housing Coalition is dedicated solely to achieving socially just public policy that assures people with the lowest income in the United States have affordable and decent homes.