2019 - Ending the Decade Strong

Posted By: Jim Wiard Industry Trends , WMFHA Updates ,

Potential new members to the association ask us what WMFHA does. To answer, we generally discuss our three “buckets” of service, outlined in our tagline: Advocate. Educate. Celebrate.

However, more than what we do, what is special about WMFHA and our tremendous members is who we are.

We are property management professionals and industry supplier service professionals who have a passion for residential property management and support each other for mutual benefit.

2019 was by far our best year yet at WMFHA, a continuation of all the great work that began way back in 2003 when we formed our association and joined the National Apartment Association (NAA).

Membership Growth

WMFHA continues to grow. We are now firmly in the top ten associations in NAA’s network in the number of housing units of membership. We end 2019 with nearly 245,000 member units, or as our very first Board President Kari Anderson likes to say, nearly one-quarter of a million units.

Our continued growth puts us in a position to build more resources, engage more property management and service professionals, have a stronger influence in government affairs advocacy, and promote professionalism in the industry that we care so much about.

Our association, our industry, is all about you, the people doing the amazing work. Growth to me means more great professionals like you are a part of this wonderful association, building relationships with each other, developing your careers, and giving back to others.

One of the most gratifying results of this year’s efforts was the attendance at our events and classes. The association nearly sold out every event and class – impacting many more individuals with our positive message of admiration for our industry and each other’s accomplishments.

Our Membership Committee focused their efforts this year not on growing our membership as much as growing engagement, ensuring that our existing members were actively engaged in the work we do together. That focus on member engagement, the value of membership and stakeholder experience ensured we put our members’ needs at the top of our mission, and the result was increased awareness throughout our membership of the resources our members have access to in order to help them in their personal growth.

Members Using Members

Members Using Members and MUM’s the Word are phrases you surely heard often in 2019. Our robust online Membership Directory served as a resource for our members to do business with each other and count on each other for support.  

We will continue to encourage everyone to utilize this tool to keep their business within the WMFHA family. Be sure to keep supporting mutual successes and fellow members in 2020 and we will all be better off together.

National Representation

As we continue to leverage our tremendous growth, experience, and talent, we rose to the center stage in the NAA network.

I was very proud to serve in 2019 as the President of the Association Executives Council (AEC), the NAA affiliate network’s leadership body, representing 160 NAA affiliate associations across the country. In that capacity, I served as a Board of Director’s member on both the National Apartment Association and the National Apartment Association Education Institute. 

Greg Cerbana with Weidner Apartment Homes also serves on the NAA board in his role as Region 7 Vice President at NAA, and Russ Pengelly and Kathie Cook from our supplier membership served in leadership roles at the National Supplier Council. Several of our board members and WMFHA team members serve on committees or task forces at the NAA level as delegates representing WMFHA nationally.

We were honored this year to receive the NAA Excellence Award for Affiliate Community Service. Our team received the accolades at the Apartmentalize Conference in Denver on behalf of our generous membership support of our charitable partners. This is the third Excellence Award we have won, adding to our award for Educational Programs in 2017 and the award for Affiliate Association Executive of the Year in 2016.

Eastern Washington Council

We had our most successful year in the growth of our Eastern Washington Chapter, in large part due to the volunteer leadership of our Eastern Washington Leadership Council. Thank you to Dayna Lamb from Coast Property Management for serving as Chair of the Council.

We held our first annual EdCon in Spokane last year, with attendance exceeding expectations. Emerald Awards continues to be a bright spot in our service to the east part of the state as well. 2020 looks very bright for our Eastern Washington Chapter.

WMFHA Team

I am humbled by the quality and passion for service exemplified by our WMFHA team of Sloane Cerbana, Tricia Johnson, Brett Waller, Katrina Bishop, and Kelly Wakefield. Each of our team is committed to serving our membership and feels extremely lucky to get to do what we do every day. We have the best jobs in the housing industry.

I want to thank Katrina Bishop, our Office Manager, for being the glue that holds us together in the WMFHA office.

The addition of Kelly Wakefield, our Director of Marketing and Communications, has brought our communications and member engagement to new heights. Our social media presence has grown exponentially, and through Kelly’s efforts, we are able to share stories about the wonderful work our members are doing.

Social media and improved marketing of our key messages broaden our reach, and at the same time brings us all closer together. Please follow us on your preferred social channel. Thank you to all our members who wrote blogs or agreed to be videotaped by Kelly for inclusion in our storytelling. 

Board of Directors 

Each year we meet for a Strategic Planning retreat where we refine our mission, vision, values, and goals for the coming year. 

This year a strong WMFHA Board of Directors worked diligently to represent every one of you. Led by our Executive Officers, they provided tremendous support and guidance implementing our annual strategic initiatives.  I would like to personally thank all our 2019 Board of Directors and our Executive Officers for their valuable support and encouragement.

Thank you to 2019 Board President Laura McGuire from First Pointe Management Group and all the efforts of our board. I look forward to working together with our 2020 board and officers.

Advocate.

One of the most challenging external forces impacting the work we do is the continued influence of negative legislation adversarial to our industry. In an effort to find political solutions to the pressure of rising rents and housing affordability concerns, lawmakers at the state and local levels appear to work hand-in-hand with tenant advocacy organizations to impede our ability to serve residents of our apartment homes.

Political quick fixes have run the gamut of loosening screening measures, softening eviction processes, and even go to the extreme of advocating for rent control. The worst part of these partisan efforts is the lack of equity when it comes to seeking advice and feedback of those whose opinions should matter the most in the debate about rental housing – the people who are providing rental housing. 

We must force our way into these conversations to give balanced accounts of the potentially negative outcomes of short-sighted and ill-advised legislation that would make housing less accessible and less affordable for our residents. These are challenging times, and these are difficult conversations to have with well-meaning but misinformed lawmakers.      

To combat poor policy, WMFHA helped form Partnership for Affordable Housing, a coalition of partners who advocate for solutions to housing affordability that will have a positive impact on renters. Feel free to check out our website at www.partnershipforaffordablehousing.com.

WMFHA coordinates two funds for the purpose of influencing policy that works for everyone – our Political Action Committee (PAC) and our Legal Defense Fund (LDF). Our members graciously contribute funds voluntarily to these purposes. We need your help and your PAC dollars more than ever.

These funds are used to support political candidates who understand the valuable contributions the rental housing industry provides for cities and communities across our state. Funds are used for legal representation and research defending our industry from threats to our livelihood. Thank you to all our members who added an annual donation to their dues payment last year to support the PAC and/or LDF!

Our Government Affairs Committee with staff liaison Brett Waller and our state lobbyists worked tirelessly on grassroots advocacy. It will be even more important to promote sensible legislation that works for all and fight the threat of rent control in 2020.

Educate.

This year, due to the outstanding efforts of Director of Career Development Sloane Cerbana, our training facilitators and our Career Development Committee, our educational programs set new records. Our robust training offerings were immensely popular. The most gratifying of which were those classes designed for our maintenance service associates.

Fair Housing Friday seminars continued to ensure fair housing training was at the forefront of our educational programs as well. Over 100 members attended credential programs designed by NAA Education Institute and administered through our association, up 10% from 2018. Nearly $17,000 in educational scholarships were awarded to 23 employees of member companies this year. 

In 2019 WMFHA, with the assistance of our volunteer and hired instructors, we facilitated 98 educational offerings such as:

  • Budget Training 
  • Fair Housing Friday/Fair Housing and Beyond
  • Leadership Lyceum
  • Credential courses
  • Legal Seminars
  • Maintenance Training
  • Emotional Intelligence

WMFHA also coordinated specialized custom training for our members who are “All-In,” meaning all properties under that company’s management are members of the association.

Celebrate.

Thanks to the hard work of our Director of Events, Tricia Johnson, and many committee volunteer members, our numerous annual events were exceptional in 2019.

Tapas & Topics, our free monthly networking event hosted by members, was extremely popular. Mainstay events such as Jockeys & Juleps VIP Night, Maintenance Appreciation Bowling Event, Chili Cook-Off Charity Event, Holiday Giving Gala, Business Exchange, and Washington Apartment Outlook all delivered high value to our members.

EdCon has continued to grow rapidly and is undoubtedly the industry’s best education conference and trade show. Emerald Awards, in both the western part of the state and eastern market, continues to be the most special and rewarding event WMFHA organizes. Emerald Awards honors the unsung heroes of our industry, the on-site professionals.

Charitable Partners

Some of the most rewarding moments for me this past year were our community service and charitable activities. Rebuilding Together Seattle, where our members gather to renovate homes in desperate need of maintenance and repairs, allowed our maintenance service technician members to show their true skill and professionalism.

Our two fall community events, Chili Cook-Off and Holiday Giving Gala set new record highs for raising donations to Domestic Abuse Women’s Network (DAWN) and Childhaven. We collected an amazing $56,500 for DAWN’s critical programs. Over the past 16 years, you all have collected many pounds of food for Northwest Harvest and raised over $450,000 for our charitable partners. 

We collected toys for Toys for Tots, supported the Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery in Spokane, partnered with Move For Hunger to rescue food for local food banks, and our members are giving to Mary’s Place and Housing Connector to move homeless people into permanent housing.  

Looking Forward

What we have all done together to grow this association and its influence on residential property management in Washington is remarkable and immensely rewarding. In just 16 short years, this association has grown dramatically and touched the lives of many people in our state.

The passion, enthusiasm, and dedication of our members in helping to grow WMFHA so that the association can in turn benefit owners, managers and service suppliers in our industry, motivates us to reach again for new heights in 2020.

The coming year ahead will be one of continued growth and innovation in our educational programs. We will continue to engage our membership through our popular social media channels. We welcome volunteers. We will strive to deliver quality programs to ensure our members get value for membership.

And, we will continue to speak with one voice for the industry, and against negative legislation that continues to plague our industry with unreasonable government regulations which only make it that much more difficult to serve our residents with quality, affordable housing. The threat of rent control and other extreme policies consumes ever more demanding time and financial resources for the association, unnecessarily. We owe it to ourselves to do all we can to educate both the media and elected officials about the rental housing industry and set the record straight.

I thank you all for being part of our immense success last year. I am humbled to be able to serve you all, and I look forward to an even better year as we start out the Decade of Rental Housing (Ok, I just made that up, but it has a nice ring to it!).

Best wishes for a bright future.

Jim Wiard – Executive Director, WMFHA