Pennsylvania housing finance chief calls long tenure 'a labor of love'

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When Brian Hudson began working for the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency, little did he realize he'd be there for 45 years.

Hudson, 65, the agency's executive director and chief executive since 2003, retired on Friday. His tenure was long for a state housing agency executive director.

"I thought, wow, this looks like an interesting place to work for. I figured I'd be there for about five years and eventually be on Wall Street or D.C.," Hudson, a Harrisburg native and Penn State graduate, said in an interview.

"It's been a labor of love," said Brian Hudson, retired CEO of the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency.

"It's been a labor of love. Looking back, I can’t imagine having worked anywhere else."

Robin Wiessmann, secretary at the state Department of Banking and Securities since 2015 and state treasurer from 2007 to 2009, succeeded Hudson on Monday.

The agency, founded in 1972, works to provide affordable homeownership and rental housing options for older adults, low- and moderate-income families, and people with special housing needs.

It has generated nearly $14.6 billion of funding for more than 178,325 single-family home mortgage loans, helped fund the construction of 136,215 rental units, distributed more than $109.2 million to support local housing initiatives, and saved the homes of more than 50,200 families from foreclosure.

PHFA programs and operations are funded primarily by the sale of securities and from fees paid by program users, not by public tax dollars. A 14-member board governs the agency.

Hudson began at PHFA in 1975, rising to chief financial officer before assuming his executive director and CEO roles. He worked to ensure the stability of the housing agency during the Great Recession and then positioned PHFA for growth in the years that followed.

He said he is especially proud of "how we deliver to those in need."

Hudson oversaw changes to the agency’s homeownership programs to meet evolving consumer needs; the allocation of hundreds of millions of dollars of tax credit investments in affordable rental housing across the commonwealth; the growth of the state housing trust fund to provide resources for addressing local housing needs; and the expansion of a statewide housing counseling network.

"He was quite a legend for our industry," said Joe Knopic, who worked with Hudson for most of his tenure and retired as the agency's finance director two years ago. "He was a visionary leader that provided an entrepreneurial spirit for our agency."

Hudson also chaired the agency's Commonwealth Cornerstone Group, a community development entity and new-markets tax credits arm that PHFA started in 2004. The group has distributed $368 million in credits to promote economic development in rural and low-income areas of Pennsylvania.

"What we do with new markets tax credits is unique for the agency," Hudson said.

Recent transactions that CCG closed include $8 million to rehabilitate a former automotive dealership in Reading to a mixed-use shopping center; $9 million to enable the nonprofit People Acting to Help to renovate a historic building in Philadelphia so it can centralize its operations; and $7 million to the Scranton Counseling Center to help fund the adaptive reuse of a downtown historic building.

In addition, said Hudson, developing a strong relationship with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development helped bring additional resources to the agency.

A past president of the National Council of State Housing agencies and a current board member, Hudson has seen a greater nationwide awareness of affordable housing concerns. "The needs are great," he said.

Robin Wiessmann, Hudson's successor, is a former Pennsylvania treasurer and Philadelphia deputy director of finance.

Hudson is also a past president and a current board member of the National Council of State Housing Agencies. He is the former chairman of the audit committee of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh and a former member of the consumer advisory council of the Federal Reserve Board.

Hudson is a certified public accountant and a certified treasury professional.

Wiessmann, while at Banking and Securities, managed the supervision of nearly 200 depository institutions, 24,000 non-depository licensees, and 230,000 securities professionals, advocated for strong cybersecurity awareness internally and by external entities, and oversaw such programs as PA $AFE, Successful Reentry, and the Next Generation Banker’s Academy.

Earlier in her career, she was a Philadelphia deputy director of finance, managing the city’s debt offerings.

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