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Kathy A. Possinger Housing Policy Fellowship

In 2019 PHFA created the Housing Policy Fellowship to further the Agency's mission and foster the development of new leaders in the housing and community development field. In 2021, the fellowship was renamed the Kathy A. Possinger Housing Policy Fellowship in honor of PHFA board designee and affordable housing champion Kathy A. Possinger. During her two-decade career, Possinger served Pennsylvanians through her housing work in both the public and private sectors. She held a variety of positions within the housing field including Special Advisor to the acting secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, Director of the Center for Community and Housing Development, Executive Director of Tri County Community Action, and the City of Harrisburg’s Deputy Director of Housing.

The goal of this program is to support the development of new perspectives and approaches to significant unmet housing or community development needs across Pennsylvania through a self-directed research project. The program will also cultivate new housing and community development leaders.

Fellowship Details

  • Stipend: Each fellow receives a stipend of $1,000 per month ($12,000 maximum), to be used for travel, conferences, technology, research tools, and/or administrative expenses.
  • Tenure: Maximum one year, beginning within six months of receipt of award letter.
  • Application Materials for the 2025 Fellowship cycle will be available in April. Please check back in April for further updates.

Applicant Eligibility

The Fellowship is open to anyone who meets the following criteria:

  • A legal resident of Pennsylvania
  • Over the age of 18 years

Applicants do not need to have an institutional, organizational, or governmental affiliation. Applicants could be currently enrolled students (graduate, undergraduate, full-time, or part-time), employees of a non-profit, for-profit, or unit of government, or even self-employed.

Fellowship eligibility has been left intentionally broad to ensure it is accessible to all Pennsylvanians with a relevant research project in need of financial support.

Project Eligibility

Fellowship projects must have a connection to housing and community development in Pennsylvania. The findings from and application of Fellowship research should be relevant and useful in expanding PHFA’s and other housing policy groups' knowledge of the topic of study. Projects that utilize a unique perspective or innovative solution/methodology are encouraged. Additional details on project topics can be found in the Fellowship Application.

How to Apply

Application Materials for the 2024 Fellowship cycle will be available in April. Please check back in April for further updates. In the meantime, please review the Fellowship FAQ for answers to common questions regarding the Fellowship. If you have questions that are not addressed in the FAQ, please contact PolicyFellowship@phfa.org.

Housing Policy Fellows and Projects

Current Fellow

Casey Fenoglio: Healthcare systems have become increasingly more invested in addressing housing insecurity and affordability in their communities. However, a lack of first-hand knowledge including best practices, barriers, and creative solutions for hospitals and healthcare systems to invest in housing limits the number of entities that are willing to do so. This project will develop a “how-to” guide for hospitals and healthcare systems that plan to invest in housing by conducting a literature review as well as phone, email and in-person interviews with hospital's that have invested in housing already.

Penghui Zhang: As an architectural designer focus on local environment and communities, Mr. Zhang is deeply concerned about the issue of gentrification in Philadelphia's Chinatown. While the influx of new immigrants has undoubtedly contributed to the area's economic growth, it has also led to rising housing costs, posing a substantial burden on low-income residents. Additionally, the diverse mix of races in the Chinatown community necessitates the creation of a harmonious co-living environment. To address these challenges, this research project for the Kathy A. Possinger Housing Policy Fellowship aims to explore and propose innovative solutions to foster an inclusive community that preserves cultural heritage while tackling the issue of gentrification.

Past Fellows

Jongwoong Kim (2023 Fellow): Dr. Kim’s project focuses on the real estate tax burden and its influence on aging in place, specifically in the context of Pennsylvania’s geography. The study employs geospatial perspectives to explore locations within the state which may pose challenges for aging in place due to real estate tax burdens. By analyzing various real estate tax-related indicators and constructing an index with these and other relevant economic and demographic variables, the study assesses the financial challenges of aging in place, identifying counties and census tracts that are favorable in terms of real estate tax burdens in the state of Pennsylvania. The project outcome includes the development of an Online GIS Dashboard and a Web Map intended for public access, aiming to provide valuable public policy implications and aid individuals in making informed decisions regarding aging in place within the state.

Julie Wilson (2023 Fellow): Ms. Wilson’s project explores how new approaches to cooperative housing might intervene in the escalating housing affordability crisis through the medium of documentary film. Specifically, the film will chronicle Common Roots’ work to establish a renting cooperative where renters are able to build equity by collectively governing and managing their homes. The film will situate Common Roots’ effort in the history of housing cooperatives in the U.S. and within the context of global cooperative movement. The film will be targeted to affordable housing professionals, grassroots actors and organizations, and general audiences interested in housing issues and/or cooperative enterprises.

Carolyn Ristau (2022 Fellow):Ms. Ristau's fellowship project entitled Residential Zoning by Race, explored the factors that influence the location of single-family and multi-family residential zoning districts in Pittsburgh over the past 100 years utilizing Geographic Information System (GIS) analysis. After reviewing a number of factors commonly used to explain zoning decisions and discrepancies, Ms. Ristau’s work suggests that redlining and race have significantly influenced the location of single-family vs. multi-family zoning districts in Pittsburgh. This difference in zoning type and location contributes to variations in housing access and affordability that have and continue to create and enforce racial housing disparities. As part of her fellowship, Ms. Ristau created a website to showcase the findings of her work.

Rachel Fawcett (2022 Fellow): Ms. Fawcett's fellowship project provides an overview of the community land trust model and existing literature, context, and insight into the existing CLTs in Pennsylvania, and an in-depth look into the State College Community Land Trust.