Michael P. Kelly
Michael P. Kelly (born January 31, 1954) is an architect and urban planner who has led the public housing authorities of several large U.S. cities, and is a leading advocate for public policy that promotes affordable housing in the country.
Early life and education
Kelly was born and raised in San Francisco, CA. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Architecture and Urban Planning at Princeton University in 1977, and went on to receive a Masters of Architecture from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1983; and a Master of Arts in Education from San Francisco State University that same year.
Public Housing Career
Kelly began his career in the public housing arena as an architect for the San Francisco Housing Authority in 1983. For nearly a decade, Kelly held a series of progressively responsible positions at the authority and was ultimately named its acting executive director—becoming the first registered architect to head a public housing authority in the U.S.
In 1994, Kelly left San Francisco to serve at the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) as a Troubled Agency Recovery Specialist, providing technical assistance to the Transition Team at the Housing Authority of New Orleans. Then in 1995, he was named executive director of the New Orleans housing authority—a post he held until 2000.
In 2000, Kelly assumed leadership of the District of Columbia Housing Authority (DCHA), one of the nation’s largest with a staff of 800 and operating and capital budgets of more than $300 million. DCHA administers 8,000 units of public housing and 12,000 units under the Housing Choice Voucher Program (HCVP), providing affordable housing for nearly 10 percent of the District’s population.
In 2010, Kelly resigned from DCHA to become general manager of the New York City housing authority. Mr. Kelly served in this position until he was asked to serve as the Administrative Receiver of the Philadelphia Housing Authority by HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan and Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter.
Kelly took a $60,000 annual pay reduction to return to DCHA as Director of Department of Housing and Community Development in June 2012 after resigning his Philadelphia position over HUD notification by PHA staffers that Kelly was having a consensual affair with a woman he had appointed to a senior staff position and, that despite having little or no credentials for the post, he was approving her for large pay increases.
On January 18, 2013 the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that after two investigative reviews, regarding the financial allegations, the woman, having "two master's degrees and a doctorate in philosophy", was qualified for the promotions she received". Both the Philadelphia Housing Authority Internal Office of Audit and Compliance and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of the Inspector General, "found no evidence" that Kelly misspent federal government funding.
Mr. Kelly's wife is a midwife in Washington DC at Wisdom Midwifery Service at George Washington University. His son Kevin is a junior at Brown University. His daughter Rosa works in the non-profit field in New York City and his daughter Mikka works in education in San Francisco.
Major Professional Accomplishments
It has been Kelly’s tenure as Executive Director of the DCHA that has garnered him the most national attention. A March 2008 article in the New York Times, called Kelly’s work “Washington’s Grand Experiment to Rehouse the Poor,” because of a number of large redevelopment projects initiated under his leadership.
Since 1993, the DCHA has received over $182 million in HOPE VI grants from HUD to redevelop properties where aging public housing once stood. These competitive grants were leveraged into more than $1.5 billion with additional public and private resources. Seven HOPE VI projects have been completed or are under construction bringing low-and moderate-income, workforce and market rate housing for rent and purchase to areas across the city.
Kelly stepped up this process in recent years with a number of ambitious HOPE VI developments including the Arthur Capper-Carrollsburg project, which sits at the center of Washington, D.C.’s, Capitol Riverfront neighborhood, an area of major real estate activity in the city.
The redevelopment is the most ambitious HOPE VI project in the country and ultimately will provide approximately 2,100 housing units for purchase and rent including accessible units, as well as office and retail space, a community center and Canal Park.
The development is building a unit for each lost to demolition of the old Capper/Carrollsburg public housing property—a one-to-one replacement that is unique in large cities with tight housing markets.
A number of the DCHA’s HOPE VI communities have won awards of recognition, including the Urban Land Institute Award of Excellence for the DCHA’s Townhomes on Capitol Hill development. The DCHA’s Wheeler Creek Development was awarded the HUD’s Best Practices award in 2000, Best in American Living Design, and the HUD Secretary’s Award for Excellence and the National Association of Homebuilders award in 2002.
Kelly has been described as being in the “public housing vanguard” for putting DCHA on a strong financial footing and creating a new strategic planning process for the authority that takes a corporate approach to management of the organization’s business requirements and opportunities.
For eight consecutive years, DCHA has received unqualified audits from independent auditors. And in 2004 Moody’s Investment Service conducted an independent organizational assessment of DCHA, giving it an AA rating. A second assessment in 2007 resulted in an upgrade to MQ1, Moody’s highest rating for financial and management operations.
The authority also secured an $80 million bond deal to finance modernization of public housing and met the two-year deadline to obligate funds.
Under his leadership, DCHA also established three subsidiaries as well as its own Energy Service Company (ESCO), the first housing authority in the country to do so. The company provides energy services to all of the DCHA properties, savings significant dollars, while making public housing more energy efficient. Among its achievements is the installation of a green roof on one DCHA senior property.
Also under Kelly’s tenure, DCHA implemented the first Housing Choice Voucher Homeownership Program in the city, which to date has helped nearly 200 renters become first time homeowners . The authority also received a HUD designation of Moving to Work (MTW), one of just of 30 housing authorities selected to participate in this program, which allows DCHA to modify or eliminate HUD rules in order to better serve the local needs of public housing residents and voucher participants.
Kelly also led the creation of the DCHA’s customer-centered work environment through staff training, performance incentives and the design and implementation of a customer service structure. This initiative included the establishment a state-of-the-art Customer Call Center, which now provides higher levels of efficiency in responding to the needs of residents, stakeholders and the public.
In 2008, Kenneth Donohue, Inspector General for HUD, presented the Inspector General’s Service Award to Kelly. . Donohue stated that Kelly has headed the authority since it emerged from court-ordered receivership in 2000 and, “Today, it’s one of the best programs in the nation.” The national award represents “excellence in public service and accountability to the people we serve.”
As General Manager of the New York City Housing Authority, the largest public housing authority in North America, he manages 178,000 apartments in 338 developments. Another 640,000 New York City residents are served by the Section 8 housing voucher program.
Kelly announced his resignation from DCHA Sept. 14, allowing his contract to expire at the end of the month. His departure ends a nine-year reign in which he attracted seven federal HOPE VI grants for development of mixed-income housing, second most of any jurisdiction in the nation, and rehabbed or tore down some of the country’s most dilapidated housing projects.
Kelly currently holds a number of academic appointments including assistant adjunct professor in the School of Architecture and Engineering at Howard University in Washington, D.C. He also serves as a Preceptor for the Project 55 Fellowship program at Princeton University, mentoring graduates with an interest in public service through a year-long fellowship. From 1997 to 2000, Kelly served as the Harvey-Wadsworth Professor of Urban Affairs at Tulane University, as well as a Visiting Lecturer at the University of California at Berkeley School of Architecture during the early 1980s. He received teaching credentials in New Jersey and California, and graduated from Princeton's program in Teaching Preparation.
Professional Leadership Positions
Kelly is the President of the Council of Large Public Housing Authorities, a Washington, D.C., based national non-profit organization whose members represent large metropolitan areas in the U.S. The council works to preserve and improve public and affordable housing through advocacy, research, policy analysis and public education.
He also serves as vice chairman of the National Organization of African Americans in Housing and sits on the boards of the National Center for Housing and Child Welfare; District of Columbia Interagency Commission on Homelessness; and the Canal Park Development Association. In 2009, he became Chairman of the Board of City Year, DC.
Kelly is a member of the American Institute of Architects; the National Housing Conference; the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials; the American Planning Association; the American Institute of Certified Planners; and is the US Green Building Council's Lead Green Associate.
- Washington DC Housing Authority Project. ThinkBox Group Web site
- New York Times article. March 21, 2008
- March 28, 2008. “HUD Awards $20 million to Revitalize Sheridan Terrace Public Housing Development in Washington, DC: HOPE VI grant to replace Sheridan Terrace with new mixed-income neighborhood.” 
- February 2000. “HOPE VI: Community Building Makes a Difference.”
- About HOPE VI. HUD Web site
- Wheeler Creek Development Corporation Web site
- “Best in American Living” awards. Professional Builders Web site
- HUD Secretary Awards of Excellence winners
- Washington Business Journal. January 16, 2009. “Michael Kelly, Public Housing Vanguard.” 
- Moody’s Investment Service Web site
- “HUD Secretary Donovan Opens Green Roof at Washington DC Housing Authority’s Regency House.” April 27, 2009 HUD news release. 
- HUD Home ownership program Web site
- Field Works. HUD User newsletter. September/October 2001
- “HUD Inspector General Presents National Award to DC Housing Authority's Michael Kelly.” Friday, December 19, 2008. Reuters. 
- The Council of Large Public Housing Authorities Leadership Profiles
- The National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Transpire Inc. Board list 
- City Year DC Web site
- The District of Columbia Housing Authority
- District of Columbia Website
- Bio: Council of Large Public Housing Authorities
- The San Francisco Housing Authority
- National Organization of African-Americans in Housing
- Housing Authority of New Orleans
- U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
- City Year Washington, DC