Housing Auth.’s occupancy rate up

At the Housing Authority of Warren County, things are looking up.

At the meeting of the Authority’s board last Tuesday, Executive Director Tonya-Mitchell Weston reported occupancy rates are up and maintenance concerns are being handled. News such as that, according to her, will raise assessment scores from the U.S. Department of Housing and Development (HUD) out of the sub-standard range.

Mitchell-Weston announced public housing has maintained 95 percent or higher occupancy for the eighth straight month.

Averaged occupancy was 95.7 percent in October and 47 units were leased. Some developments, specifically Rouse Manor, Brokenstraw Center and Riverview Terrace, reported 100 percent occupancy.

“So is HUD using us as an example yet… of what you should do?” Authority Board Chairman Mike Lewis asked.

“Not yet, but they should be soon,” Mitchell-Weston responded, citing the speed with which the authority implemented its turn-around plan following notice of the sub-standard scores. “They don’t have the numbers yet.”

Mitchell-Weston noted that, now that they have a better idea what HUD inspectors are looking for, maintenance crews have improved their performance as well. Maintenance has also reduced turn-around time on unit preparation following a vacancy to under 30 days.

The waiting list for Section 8 Housing was reported to be closed for the first time since 2008.

“So, if somebody leaves now they’re done? We don’t open a spot?” Lewis asked.

“Not for awhile,” Section 8 Housing Voucher Coordinator Mary Mundt said.

Authority Financial Assistant Tracy Kranak noted closing the list would help reduce Section 8 costs.

“We need to bring the money amount down,” she said. “We are into our HUD reserve funds.”

Mundt noted there are 47 local participants in Section 8 housing at present. She anticipates putting one more on the program and three “portables” from outside the area. The authority will be reimbursed for two of the “portables”.