Debbie Fisher Has the Floor

A good time to be the new Board chair

Debbie Fisher Has the Floor

Timing is everything.  

It’s apparent in a great golf swing, the telling of a funny joke, the taking of a spectacular photo and the transformation of an organization to have the greatest impact ever.  

Two months ago I became the PCHTF board chair. My timing is quite fortuitous. Over the course of the past three years there’s been a strategic evolution of the organization. The vision has stayed the same – to ensure all Polk County citizens have safe, stable and affordable housing. But how we go about making that happen has changed and continues to evolve with a clear purpose in mind.

PCHTF is now the comprehensive planning, advocacy and funding organization for affordable housing. That means, among other things, that it’s the umbrella organization responsible for developing the community strategic plan for affordable housing and leading its implementation.  It also includes helping the community understand the need for and benefits of adequate affordable housing. While there are several initiatives to accomplish this, a few of my personal ongoing favorites include the Can I Be Your Neighbor campaign, the Community Bus Tours and a wealth of research and program results tracking that is underway.

This umbrella, or community impact approach, is very much like the one used by the United Way worldwide and here in Central Iowa. In fact, we discussed their Community Impact Model during a strategic planning session three years ago and began our evolution to that end.

One of the changes is how we now use research and mapping capabilities to determine the gaps and most critical needs in our area’s housing.  A key part is sharing that data to help the community and providers coordinate and direct resources where they will have the greatest impact in providing and preserving units. 

Another area is having those who receive funding from PCHTF share their results. This is a key part of evaluating our how our collaborative efforts are working in closing the gap between the need for affordable housing (especially in areas with higher concentrations of jobs that pay $15 or less an hour) and what is available. And as United Way Worldwide CEO Brian Gallagher has said, “In the move to community impact, program outcome measures are table stakes! You don’t get in the game without it.”

And while “in the game”, we can’t expect to consistently win if policies don’t enable the preservation and creation of the right number of affordable housing units. That will start to happen. The time is right.

I’m honored to be the new board chair, excited by the progress we are making and welcome your ideas for how together we can do even more.

Thank you for taking the time! 


Debbie Fisher is the PCHTF Board Chair and Executive Vice President of Newbury Living.