Housing authority taps Miller

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The Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority has a new acting director. A. Melvin Miller, ARHAs current Board Chairman and a former U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development executive, will give up one position to assume another. He assumed the role of Executive Director on May 21.

The Board just couldnt identify anyone who could assume this responsibility immediately, Miller said after last weeks Board decision. I have agreed to take on this responsibility in the short-term until one of our candidates can take it on. I am hopeful that my tenure will be short six weeks or so until we can get someone in here on a longer term basis. We plan to do a national search to find a permanent replacement for Bill Dearman and thats going to take a lot longer.

Dearman submitted his resignation in April, after 10 years as executive director. He is relocating to Atlanta to spend more time with his grandchildren.

The housing authority board has difficult decisions ahead, not the least of which is Glebe Park. The Virginia Housing Development Authority recently rejected ARHAs application for tax-credit financing to redevelop Glebe Park, James Bland and James Bland Addition. Now, Mayor Bill Euilles working group, consisting of Miller, ARHA vice Chair, Conney Ring; Euille and Councilman Rob Krupicka and city and ARHA staff is meeting to consider options.

We met last week and our new Planning Director came up with an idea that the Mayor and I would like to explore further, Krupicka said.

Farroll Hamer, who became Alexandrias Planning Director in April, suggested that the city take several steps back and develop a master plan for all of ARHAs properties. This would mean we would take a look at how the properties can be self-sustaining, not just for the next couple of years, but for ten and even twenty years down the road, Krupicka said.

That step back will require a financial commitment on the citys part because ARHA has a $6 million mortgage remaining on Glebe Park, which is a very difficult site to redevelop and which has faced opposition from neighborhood residents who do not want the 152-unit project to contain only subsidized housing units.

Commitment needed
Miller says the options are limited and all require city commitment. The funding commitment that we got from the City wasnt very strong and we lost points in the VHDA tax-credit application process because of that, he said. As I see it, we can wait a year and reapply for the nine-percent tax credits; we can apply for the noncompetitive four-percent tax credits; we can ask the City to pay the $60,000 per month mortgage on Glebe Park while we all talk about it or the City can just buy the property outright. If they want to spend the $6 million and own Glebe Park, we would be happy to sell it to them. We really are pretty much out of options, he said.

According to Krupicka, the city has asked the planning director, the director of housing, and the assistant city manger for finance to look at alternatives.
One alternative certainly is for the city to loan ARHA the $6 million to pay off the mortgage on Glebe Park while we complete our analysis, Krupicka said. Another option might be for the city to simply pay the monthly mortgage for the next couple of years. We understand that we need to satisfy the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development requirements but we really dont want to do something in haste without considering best practices in public housing and look at the way other municipalities and private housing development corporations are managing subsidized housing.

The mayors working group will meet on May 31 to consider staffs analysis. Krupicka anticipates that City Council and the ARHA Board will hold a work session sometime in June and that Council will make a decision before the July summer recess.

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