Our History

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The West Virginia Association of Housing Agencies is organized for the follow purposes:

  • To foster and promote public housing and assisted housing.
  • To provide a clearinghouse for the exchange of ideas and experiences
  • To promote cooperation among local housing agencies and federal, state & local agencies…
  • Working for improvement in administrative practices & policies…
  • To effect federal and state legislation for the advancement of public and assisted housing.
  • To encourage the private construction of affordable housing.
  • To improve expertise through meetings, workshops; encourage networking and improve communication between PHAs.

WVAHA History - How we got here

The Housing Act of 1937: The beginning of Public Housing


The idea of a federal public housing program began in the 1930s during the Great Depression. Its purpose was intended to:  Create housing that would respond to a lack of sanitary housing available at a low cost to families who had fallen on hard times, and  The construction of the housing would lead to the creation of jobs and economic growth. However, the idea of the federal government providing housing proved to be controversial. Opponents saw government involvement in housing as a step towards socialism, the building industries thought that they could handle the nation’s housing problems without government intervention.  Some local governments were concerned that federal housing would take away their control. The Housing Act of 1937 (P.L. 75-412) attempted to balance some of these concerns in the way that it designed the low-rent public housing program. Under the terms of the act: Public housing properties would be built and owned only by state-chartered and locally governed public housing authorities (PHAs).  This gave states and localities the right to choose whether or not to participate in the program by deciding whether or not to create PHAs.  The federal government would provide capital financing under long-term Annual Contributions Contracts (ACCs). These contracts would spell out the federal requirements of the program; however, many of the decisions about how the housing was designed, where it was located, and who could live in it would be left to the PHAs.

The first public housing authorities in WV


1937 Charleston

1937 Mount Hope

1937 Wheeling

1938 Huntington

1938 Martinsburg

1938 Williamson

The WV Association of Housing & Urban Renewal Authorities is formed

October 29, 1946

The 1949 Housing Act hoped to create 810,000 units of public housing during the 1950’s, but only 210,000 were built.

Fairmont-Morgantown Housing established, along with new expansion


In the 1960’s, public housing took off with several new programs including Section 202, 236 and the Turnkey program, which resulted in 800,000 units being constructed. It also resulted in the next big wave of PHA creation in West Virginia. Expansion in the 1960’s included:

1960 Benwood-McMechan

1960 Keyser

1960 Moundsville

1960 Weirton

1961 Beckley

1962 Bluefield

1962 St. Albans

1963 South Charleston

1964 Grafton

1965 Spencer

1967 Parkersburg

1968 Weston

1969 Clarksburg

1969 Dunbar

1971 Piedmont

The West Virginia Association of Housing Authorities is reorganized


The West Virginia Association of Housing Authorities reorganized in 1963. In 1974, the focus of federal housing policy shifted away from constructing new public housing units to new models using the existing and private housing market through the Section 8 program. This also resulted in the formation of new authorities in WV.

1977 Jackson County

1977 Mingo County

1977 Grant County

1979 Raleigh County

1979 Randolph County

1980 Romney

1981 Boone County

1984 Greenbrier

Housing Authorities have shown great continuity even in the midst of change in our industry and in the society around us.  The WVAHA has adapted and continued in the face of a declining number of PHAs and competition from other organizations.  Looking forward, the Association works to preserve, promote and prepare so that PHAs and the families we serve will always find success.


What the WVAHA works to preserve:

  • An 80 year heritage of housing authorities working within local communities to provide quality, affordable housing to low income families;
  • Existing housing (6,242 units of PH & 16,592 of HCV);
  • Local control over housing priorities and decisions;
  • Our 70 year history as an Association;
  • Developing housing professionals and community leaders;
  • Educating the public of the need for affordable housing;
  • Advocating for responsible public policy and funding for affordable housing.


What the WVAHA promotes:

  • The successes we achieve in developing new and maintaining existing affordable housing;
  • The programs we offer to improve the lives of residents;
  • The accomplishments of families to build better lives;
  • The necessity of providing safe, decent and affordable housing to the most vulnerable in our communities;
  • The importance of safe, decent and affordable housing for developing a stable workforce.


The WVAHA prepares for our staff and agencies for success today and in the future through:

  • Training and conferences;
  • Continuing education;
  • Networking opportunities;
  • Resources;
  • Leadership development;
  • Broad Goals
  • Increased participation for greater involvement;
  • Addressing needs;
  • Communication;
  • Preserving our archives and history.