Rod Solomon


Creating Laws for Affordable Housing

Ep. 35 - Rod Solomon emphasizes that both tragedies-the pandemic and the shocking events so starkly highlighting racial injustice-are cause for redoubling our efforts on many fronts, including achieving basic adequacy of housing-related assistance.

Top Takeaways:

    • How the Congress may be persuaded to make the Rental Assistance Program (RAD) a permanent program
    • The role of the Moving to Work Program (MTW) in the affordable housing sector
    • The importance of helping communities to preserve public and assisted housing opportunities
    • The importance of basic housing especially during the pandemic
    • Why you need to pick a career that you love as a young person

Hear the challenges that have slowed public housing over the years and what can be done to change that.

"You should choose a career where you are feeling like it's a cause. Where you wake every day and you're helping people who need help. Find that and stick to it."

Rod worked in the affordable housing and community development sectors for the last four decades, creating laws, programs, and regulations for affordable housing. He has been a practicing attorney for Hawkins Delafield & Wood LLP for 16 years, a leading public finance law firm, representing housing authorities and private entities contributing to affordable housing. He was a Deputy Assistant Secretary for HUD for 9 years and represented the Administration throughout negotiations with Congress on the Quality Housing and Work Responsibility Act of 1998 (QHWRA), which created reform and overhauled the public housing and voucher programs.

At HUD, he directed administration of new statutory initiatives, including the PHA Plan, the Moving to Work Demonstration, Capital Fund financing, and mandatory conversion of distressed public housing to vouchers. He was the Chief Operating Officer/Acting Executive Director for the Atlanta Housing Authority, obtaining critical redevelopment grants and supervising management improvements.

He worked for the Boston Housing Authority for 12 years implementing reforms that resulted in a dramatic improvement in conditions, release from receivership and court control and removal from the HUD troubled list.

He was also the Legislative Assistant to Senator Taft for the United States Senate for 5 years. He has education from Harvard Law School, J.D.; Kennedy School of Government, M.P.A.; Amherst College, B.A. He also has many awards, publications, and services activities.

Post Note from Rod:

So much has happened since we recorded the podcast in the first week of April. The coronavirus impact underscores the fragility of housing stability for so many Americans.  The failure of the deep-subsidy housing programs to gain better political traction has had longstanding links to racism.   I hope we will be energized by this year's terrible events to support and assist national leaders who will make a fundamental change in the level of support for affordable housing, especially for those who otherwise have no hope of having decent living conditions and affording necessities.

Listen in to hear why the Rental Assistance Demonstration program was formed and its role in the housing authorities. Rod shares how he helped author the Moving to Work demonstration program 24 years ago, its purpose, and how it has performed over the years.

Key Moments:

He explains why the Rental Assistance Demonstration program (RAD) was formed and how it helps housing authorities [3:17]

The concerns that have prevented RAD from being made permanent and why that might happen in the future [8:15]

The MTW law, why it was authored, its relation to the voucher program, and its role in the affordable housing sector [13:25]

He explains some of his accomplishments working with others in the public housing sector [16:26]

The challenges of limited money, race, and political support in the development of affordable public housing [19:39]

He explains why basic housing should be given priority [21:26]

What advice would he give to young people today? [22:11]

How the 1960s burning of minority areas in his city inspired him to try to make an impact in the housing and community development sector [22:52]


C-Span Appearance

Brookings Institute: Public Housing Reform and Voucher Success

National Center for Housing and Child Welfare Board

Atlanta Housing Authority Rod Solomon Papers

Colorado Affordable Housing Series

Journal of Housing and Community Development

Bring School Home Advisory Council


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