Virgin Islands Housing Authority’s Robert Graham Retiring After 15 Years at the Helm

Date Published: 
January 8th, 2024

From the St. Thomas Source:

In 2008, when Robert Graham was appointed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to lead the Virgin Islands Housing Authority out of federal receivership, he arrived with decades of experience in public housing management and consulting.  Having racked up 33 years in the field, Graham will retire at the end of  December.

In her July 5, 2022 ChangeMakers podcast, Katie Goar said, by way of introduction, “Mr. Graham’s years of affordable housing experience has resulted in the successful turn-around of several troubled housing authorities and non-profit entities with underperforming housing portfolios.” Goar, a professor of Public Management, Public Organization, and Public Policy at Purdue University, said, “He began his housing career in 1990 at the largest housing authority in New Jersey and after twelve years in New Jersey and leading a successful turnaround, Mr. Graham went on to lead the successful turn-around of housing authorities in both Connecticut and the U.S. Virgin Islands.”


But a financial tight ship is only part of what is important to Graham. He believes strongly that providing social support systems to middle- and low-income housing residents is equally critical. “It is the role of affordable housing,” he said recently, “to offer programs that will lead residents to a life of prosperity.”

Those programs include everything from job training to healthcare to mental health services and more. But, never a purveyor of false humility, Graham is quick to admit that the idea “is bigger than me.” A year or so ago when Graham brought Marvin Nesbitt, a South Carolina native with years of experience in community development — including 12 years at the Atlanta Housing Authority — to offer his expertise, it was a measure of Graham’s leadership abilities. Though Nesbitt did not stay on, he did spend his time in the territory sharing his wealth of knowledge and experience with others who could carry on the work. That work, Nesbitt has stated publicly, involves “seeing to it that individuals and families from underserved communities are able to walk a path that leads towards generational success.”

Read the St. Thomas Source's article "VIHA’s Robert Graham Retiring After 15 Years at the Helm."

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