Dear Friends and Supporters,
Mark Schwartz has led Regional Housing Legal Services (RHLS) as its executive director for nearly forty years – most of the organization’s existence. Now we are entering a new phase: Mark has announced that he is stepping down from the Executive Director position in June of next year. We are all in Mark’s debt for his amazing vision and leadership, and all he has done to help RHLS create affordable housing in Pennsylvania – and appreciative that he has committed to remain active in advocacy for affordable housing. These will be big shoes (and a baseball cap) to fill, but Mark has built an incredibly strong and well-staffed organization to continue the work.
Mark joined the staff of RHLS as a staff attorney in 1974, only a year after the organization was formed. Since then, RHLS has helped thousands of Pennsylvanians find and keep a place to call home and has assisted in the revitalization of many communities across the Commonwealth.
Under Mark’s leadership, RHLS grew from a staff of three attorneys based only in Bucks County to a staff of twenty-three, with offices in the Philadelphia area, Harrisburg, and Pittsburgh. RHLS attorneys have represented nonprofit clients developing and maintaining affordable housing resulting in the creation or preservation of 9,145 units of affordable rental housing or homeownership units and over $1.4 billion in financing, while building out policy advocacy for affordable housing and access to utilities.
Over the span of his career, Mark has been heavily involved with the creation and implementation of the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit in Pennsylvania, which is currently the central source of financing for new affordable housing. Mark has worked with the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency and many partners to optimize the Credit to serve the lowest income and most vulnerable.
Mark’s work has been instrumental in the establishment of resources for organizations serving low-income and vulnerable Pennsylvanians, advocating for programs such as the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development’s Neighborhood Assistance Program (NAP), which has leveraged tax credit contributions to support charitable organizations across Pennsylvania, and the Pennsylvania Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement Fund (PHARE), which has provided almost $90 million in funding for housing and related programs. He also brought the Pennsylvania Utility Law Project (PULP) to RHLS, seeing the potential synergies between housing and utility advocacy.
Most recently, Mark advocated for $175 million of rental and mortgage assistance for those affected by COVID-19, as well as funding for legal services agencies to provide civil legal representation and advocacy for those who need it most.
Perhaps most impactful but least calculable of Mark’s contributions includes his work connecting the affordable housing and legal aid sectors in Pennsylvania. Mark has been a connector of change-makers and his ability to do so has made a difference in the lives of many. Mark was instrumental in the creation of the Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania as well as the Pennsylvania Health Law Project and has served on the boards of many organizations serving low-income Pennsylvanians.
Mark leaves RHLS well-poised to tackle the challenges of the next few years and decades, with a strong network of supporters across Pennsylvania, a robust base of clients doing (literally) groundbreaking work, a staff team with unmatched expertise in affordable housing and community development, and a Board of Directors both committed and involved in the organization’s well-being.
Recognizing the importance of RHLS in the landscape of affordable housing and community development in Pennsylvania, the Board has taken an “all hands on deck” approach to ensure that RHLS can continue its critical role in advocating for low-income and vulnerable populations, as well as for our nonprofit clients.
RHLS anticipates that, when we can safely gather again, we will celebrate the careers of both Mark Schwartz and former RHLS Chief Counsel, Mark Levin, who retired in July of this year.
The RHLS Board of Directors has begun the process of locating the next Executive Director of RHLS. The job announcement is available on the RHLS website. We count on you to continue to spread the word about this and other opportunities that come from working with Regional Housing Legal Services! And we look forward to sharing details of our transition as Mark’s transition gets closer next year.
President, RHLS Board of Directors