Appointments made to SHA Board of Commissioners

By Seattle Housing Authority

In April, the Mayor appointed Robert Crutchfield, Paul Purcell and Gerald Smiley to at-large positions on the Seattle Housing Authority Board of Commissioners.

The seven-member SHA Board of Commissioners includes five at-large positions and two resident positions. The commissioners are appointed to four-year terms by the mayor and confirmed by the City Council.

Robert Crutchfield

Robert Crutchfield

The Board has oversight of SHA policies, the agency’s annual budget and the executive director, a position currently held by Andrew Lofton.
Robert Crutchfield is Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the University of Washington, where he served as department chair for eight years. He also directed the UW Graduate School’s Graduate Opportunities and Minority Achievement Program.

His research and teaching focused on criminology, and a number of his studies were of Seattle neighborhoods.
In 2014, his book, “Get a Job: Labor Markets, Economic Opportunity, and Crime” was published by New York University Press. In the book, he analyzed how employment disadvantage and economic inequality lead to individual crime and delinquency, and neighborhood crime rates. He earned a B.A. from Thiel College in Greenville, Pennsylvania, and an M.A. and P.h.D from Vanderbilt University.

“After growing up in the housing projects of Pittsburgh, I sought to bring insights learned there to both my teaching and research, and now feel honored to serve on the Seattle Housing Authority Board,” said Crutchfield.

Paul Purcell was the President and founder of Beacon Development Group where he oversaw the development of nearly 5,000 affordable housing units. He served as Chair of the Washington State Governor’s Housing Advisory Board, the Governor’s Task Force on Financing Senior Housing, the Joint Committee on Farm Worker Housing and the Policy Advisory Team for Housing.

Paul Purcell

Paul Purcell

Prior to founding Beacon, Purcell oversaw housing development for Catholic Community Services of Western Washington.
He holds a B.A. degree from Western Washington University and a Master of Public Administration degree from Seattle University.

“I am excited to serve on the SHA Board of Commissioners as I believe that public housing authorities are critical to solving the affordable housing crisis of our time,” Purcell said. “I hope to contribute my experience to allow SHA to continue to be the national leader that it is.”

Gerald Smiley is an organizer at the Laborers’ Local Union 242. He serves as a board member of a nonprofit organization committed to developing affordable workforce housing, social justice, economics and education. Smiley also serves on the SHA Section 3 Committee, which advises a program to help public housing residents and others in the community with low incomes gain the skills, access to jobs and small business contracts they need to become self-sufficient.

Gerald Smiley

Gerald Smiley

“I grew up in affordable housing,” said Smiley. “Without affordable housing I don’t know where I would be in life. It kept a good roof over our heads, gave us access to a good education and helped us keep food on the table. I owe it to our residents and communities to fight for them and help provide as many resources as we can.”

The three new commissioners, whose terms are effective immediately, are replacing former commissioners Zachary De Wolf, David Moseley and Jermaine Smiley. They join current board members Deborah Canavan Thiele (chair), Emily Abbey (vice-chair) Ahmed Abdi and Dr. Paula Houston.


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