National Housing Law Project Public Housing Fact Sheet #2:
The Resident Advisory Board
• RAB: Resident Advisory Board
• Resident Council: a voluntary group of residents that gets together to represent the interests of residents. The Council can be focused on just one property or on the entire jurisdiction.
• Jurisdiction: the area that your housing authority is in charge of. A jurisdiction may be your city, state, or county. For example, the jurisdiction of the New York City Housing Authority is all of New York City. The jurisdiction of the Delaware Housing Authority is the entire state of Delaware.
1. WHAT IS A RESIDENT ADVISORY BOARD (RAB)?
A Resident Advisory Board (RAB) is a group of residents that advises your housing authority about its Annual and 5-Year PHA Plans. The rules state that your housing authority must have a RAB for the entire PHA Plan process.
The residents on the RAB should reflect the residents living in public housing. A housing authority may have more than one RAB.
2. WHAT ARE PHA PLANS AND WHAT IS THE PHA PLAN PROCESS?
PHA Plans are developed by your housing authority. There is an Annual Plan, which is produced every year at the same time. There is also a Five-Year Plan. The Plans contain a lot of information about the development where you live, such as:
rules on how tenants are admitted and evicted
decisions on collecting and raising rents
plans for resident programs, such as youth groups and job training seminars
decisions about spending money on repairs, programs and other things
The PHA Plan Process is a step-by-step process that your housing authority must follow each year to produce the annual PHA Plan. The housing authority must follow strict rules—and resident participation is important. The Resident Advisory Board is the key to effective resident participation.
For more information on PHA Plans, see “Public Housing Fact Sheet #1: PHA Annual and Five-Year Plans”.
3. WHO BELONGS TO THE RAB?
The RAB is made up of public housing residents and resident leaders. The members should represent many different properties. If the housing authority has a fairly big Section 8 voucher program, the housing authority must appoint voucher recipients to the RAB.
4. HOW IS A RAB CREATED?
In most cases, the Housing Authority creates the Resident Advisory Board. There are strict rules that the housing authority must follow in choosing members for the RAB. In some cases, there may be more than one RAB.
The Resident Council can play a very important role in creating the RAB.
ALL ABOUT THE RESIDENT COUNCIL
The Resident Council is different from the RAB. The Resident Council is a voluntary group of residents that gets together to represent the interests of the residents and the projects. Some Resident Councils are made up of members from just one property. Other Councils are made up of members from many properties—these Resident Councils are known as “jurisdiction-wide” councils.
The Resident Council can play a very important role in forming the RAB. If the Resident Council follows resident participation rules, then it has the right to select members for the RAB.
When the Resident Council is jurisdiction-wide:
In this case, all of the members of the Resident Council—or a certain number of its members—become the RAB. This happens when the Resident Council is a jurisdiction-wide council.
When there is more than one Resident Council from different properties:
In this case, members from all of these Councils—or a certain number of their members—become the RAB. When this happens, the housing authority may also select other public housing residents as additional members.
When there is no Resident Council:
In this case, the housing authority may select all of the members for the RAB.
4. WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF THE RAB? WHAT DOES IT DO?
The purpose of the RAB is to participate in the PHA Plan Process and to represent the views of the residents. RAB members should find out what issues are important to residents and what issues the housing authority should know about.
Your RAB is responsible for:
• reviewing your housing authority’s PHA Plans
• making comments on the PHA Plans
• meeting with housing authority staff to discuss the PHA Plans.
Your RAB may also want to discuss the PHA Plan without any housing authority staff there. The RAB can schedule resident meetings to do this.
Throughout the PHA Plan Process, your housing authority must consider and respond to the comments of your RAB. It is the law!
5. WHAT RESOURCES ARE AVAILABLE TO THE RAB?
By law, the housing authority must provide resources to the RAB. The RAB needs resources in order to:
• understand housing authority policies and programs
• communicate with other residents
• hold resident meetings
• access the Internet
About Resident Participation Funds: In addition, “resident participation funds” may be available to work on the PHA Plan process. Each year, your housing authority receives $25 per apartment just for resident participation activities. If there is a Resident Council, then the Resident Council decides how to use this money. If there is no Resident Council, then the RAB suggests how to spend this money.
Residents may decide to use these funds to help pay for PHA Plan activities. Examples include training, organizing and meeting activities.
6. HOW CAN YOU GET INVOLVED WITH YOUR RAB?
• If there is a Resident Council:
· Talk to the Council members about being a RAB representative, or
· Talk to the current RAB representative.
• If there is no Resident Council: Tell your housing authority that you want to be a member of the RAB.
• Talk with current RAB members to find out what’s going on. The housing authority should help you do this by providing a list of members. A list of members should also be attached to the current PHA Plan.
• Ask to attend RAB meetings.
• Find other partners to help you get involved. Other partners include local housing advocates…?
FOR MORE INFORMATION
• 42 U.S.C.A. § 1437c–1.
• 24 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 903 is available at www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/cfr table search.html
• Public Housing Agency (PHA) Plan Desk Guide (Sept. 20, 2001), available at http://www.hud.gov/offices/pih/pha/
For additional information on the PHA Plan Process:
• Public Housing Fact Sheet #1: PHA Annual and Five-Year Plans
• Residents’ Guide to the New Public Housing Authority Plans (Center for Community Change, June 1999) available at http://www.communitychange.org/publications/housingcommdev.htm (also available in Spanish)
ABOUT THIS FACT SHEET
Public Housing Fact Sheet #2 was developed by the National Housing Law Project. Public Housing residents, resident groups and nonprofit organizations may reprint this Fact Sheet freely, but must give credit to the National Housing Law Project. All others must request permission to reprint by contacting us at firstname.lastname@example.org.