ERICH CHATHAM, CHARLESTON, SC - principal owner and lead consultant

Erich has 10 years of professional experience in community development and affordable housing. Recently, Erich worked on economic and community development projects with local governments, for-profits, and non-profits throughout South Carolina, North Carolina, Florida, Utah, Colorado, Georgia, and Texas. He serves as a national technical assistance provider for the US Department of Housing and Urban Development and is a HOME Certified Specialist. In his role as a HUD TA Provider, Erich provides technical assistance to HUD grantees related to CDBG, CDBG-DR, HOME, and ESG program management. He has also conducted numerous IDIS and DRGR training workshops throughout the country.

Erich serves on numerous non-profit boards of directors including the Palmetto Community Land Trust, Grand Strand Housing and Community Development, the South Carolina Interagency Council on Homelessness and the Lowcountry Continuum of Care where he serves as the Chairman of the Governing Council. Erich received a Bachelor of Arts in History and Secondary Education Certification from Oglethorpe University in Atlanta, Georgia. He then taught high school economics and government and coached several sports for four years. He also holds a Masters of Public Administration from the College of Charleston, with a focus on Economic Development and Urban Planning.



Vern xiong, St. Paul, MN - Data collection and visualization

Vern has worked with Civitas for five years as a research assistant and data collection expert. His experience spans housing studies across the country including, but not limited to, Columbia, SC ConPlan and AAP; Horry County, SC ConPlan and AAP; and St. George, UT ConPlan and AAP. In addition to his work with Civitas, he has worked on research and evaluation for non-profits in Minnesota and Colorado, as well as international development projects in Southeast Asia and Central America. Coming from a refugee family, Vern has a special interest in helping displaced people and secondary migrants adapt, make healthy living choices, and grow with their new communities.

Before working at Civitas, Vern managed Lao Family’s Youth and Family program for seven years. He also helped lead many community development programs, including CDBG, in Minneapolis-St. Paul. Vern earned a Bachelor of Art from Greenville College, Illinois and a Certificate of Grant Proposal Writing from Fort Hayes State University.



Peter neiger, wilmington, nc - Data analyst

Peter has eight years of professional experience in economic analysis, with five years specializing in housing policy issues. He will serve as the lead researcher and analyst on any as-needed projects, a role he has excelled at on many similar projects. Some of these previous projects include assisting with  CDBG-DR Technical Assistance for Jacksonville, Florida; Charleston, South Carolina Consolidated Plans, and IDIS Technical Assistance support for Greenville, North Carolina.

Peter has a Bachelor of Science in Economics from the College of Charleston. Before college, he joined the US Army where he served as an infantry paratrooper. Prior to working with Civitas, Peter was a data analyst in Washington DC where he focused on higher education reform. Peter currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Cape Fear Community Land Trust and is passionate about helping communities adapt to the changing economy by creating communities that are accessible to all residents.


SPENCER CHRISTIAN, CHARLESTON, Sc - Director of operations and compliance

Spencer recently transitioned to housing and community development consulting after serving over 10 years in the United States Navy as an intelligence officer. Having spent time in cities and military bases throughout the US, Middle East, and Asia, he brings a unique, multinational perspective to housing and development. He delivers value and insight to urban development projects by leveraging his military background in analysis, policy review, financial oversight, and project management. Spencer has a keen interest in affordable and fair housing as well as supporting urban sustainability technology and culture.

Spencer continues to serve as an intelligence officer with the US Navy Reserves. Prior to his service, he taught high school French and coached basketball. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in French from Georgia College and State University. Spencer completed his Master’s of Science in International Affairs from Georgia Institute of Technology.


Pat Phillips, Columbia, SC – Project Management Consultant

Pat has recently joined Civitas LLC as a Consultant.  She has worked with several community and economic development projects in South Carolina.  Pat has had over 35 years business management experience and was the Executive Director of a non-profit organization in South Carolina for over 10 years, which serves the counties of Horry, Georgetown and Williamsburg.  In this capacity, she worked with local governments, for-profits & other non-profits on many low-income housing projects throughout the service area. Pat has extensive experience with HOME, CDBG, FHLB and SCHTF funding. Pat has also managed Low Income Housing Multi Family Projects in Georgetown, SC.

Pat was also a Business Project Manager for software development companies based in Columbia, SC, for over 12 years.  She oversaw the business side of developing Client Information Systems, for companies in the US and UK.  Prior to that, she was a claims and customer service manager with Blue Cross Blue Shield of SC for more than 10 years. Pat studied Business Administration while attending the University of Louisville.  She served on the Board of Directors for the South Carolina Association of Community Development Corporations (SCADC).

Curtis Chatham - Environmental Review Specialist

Curt has worked professionally in the environmental review field for 9 years. He has established himself as an expert in research and compliance who has worked with clients across the country. Some past projects include providing Environmental Review and CDBG-DR consulting for Lexington County, SC; Miami Gardens, FL; St George, UT; El Monte, CA; and Port Arthur, TX. Regardless of the size of the jurisdiction or the project, Curt has extensive experience in moving through Environmental Review process quickly and effectively.

Prior to working with Civitas, Curt worked in Los Angeles and an Administrative Assistant for the American Film Institute.