Despite HUD hold-up, Housing board still OK

In the absence of three board members, the Housing Authority of Warren County took no action during its board meeting Tuesday afternoon.

Only board members Frank Wilcox and Dale Reitz were able to attend, leaving the group without a quorum.

Election of officers and approval of final, reconciled 2012 budget figures were both tabled, but board members did receive reports on ongoing concerns.

The federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has still not provided subsidy funds as of January.

HUD had stopped providing, or lowered, subsidies to authorities with funds above a certain threshold, including Warren, in 2012. The effort was part of a fund recapture policy which Authority Executive Director Tonya Mitchell-Weston said she hoped to see end soon.

“We’re still functioning on a continuing resolution from HUD so we have not received a subsidy for January,” she said. “We’re not sure when in 2013 we will receive a subsidy, but we’re pretty sure we will.”

Concerns over the authority’s ability to meet performance benchmarks for 2012 were alleviated.

“We met our goals for year end,” Mitchell-Weston said. “We talked about it being a long shot, but we pulled it off. Between the asset management team and the maintenance team, we pulled it off.”

Concerns ranged from meeting residency level requirements to meeting stringent HUD standards for inspections. Failure to reach required benchmarks could have led to a change in HUD designation, which would have impacted operational autonomy.

As authority staff continue to review applicants for all sites, it was reported 44 applicants were contacted in December and 19 vacancies were filled.

An additional eight units were prepared for occupancy by maintenance staff.

The waiting list for Section 8 housing assistance will remain open, Section 8 Coordinator Mary Mundt said.

“I’m processing the applicants I have so far,” Mundt said. “So hopefully we can get some people approved.”

Wilcox questioned authority staff as to the situation at Canterbury Court.

“The Canterbury issue,” Wilcox asked, “is that their board holding it up?”

The site is managed by the authority, but is not actually an authority property. Management at the site has proved a continual drain on authority finances, as revenues from rentals remain tens of thousands of dollars below the cost of operating the site.

“We think we’re going to be able to go forward,” Mitchell-Weston said of resolving the issue independently of Canterbury’s board.