Local figures not ones to blame

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Dear editor,

This letter is written in response to the letter by Mr. Thomas Towns, which was published in the Tuesday, April 1 edition of your paper.

While we understand the writer’s frustrations, he has made a number of seriously inaccurate and misguided allegations and implications concerning the Selma Housing Authority which need to be addressed.

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The most significant of these relates to the eight (8) mentioned housing complexes. The Selma Housing Authority does not own any of these properties nor does it exercise any control over them.

The writer specifically names eight local projects and then incorrectly assumes that, because they are funded with LIHTC

[Low Income Housing Tax Credits] and/or HUD monies, these eight (8) cited developments are under the control or ownership of the Selma Housing Authority.

This simply is not true.

A search of AHFA [Alabama Housing Finance Authority] Tax Credit Allocation records would have revealed to the writer the actual owners of these properties – all are independent, out-of-town landlords except one.

And, all are well beyond the purview of the Selma [or any] Housing Authority. These developers/contractors are free to conduct their businesses as they see fit.

It is somewhat difficult to discuss these matters without at least a fundamental understanding of housing authorities, their mission and their operations.

Basically, housing authorities exist in order to provide safe, decent and sanitary housing to low income clients. This can be achieved in two ways, through

[1] HUD-funded public housing complexes,

and [2] Section 8 vouchers issued by housing authorities to HUD-qualified families and individuals, who, in turn, choose their housing with HUD-qualified private landlords. These vouchers represent rental assistance from HUD paid to the landlord via the local housing authority.

Housing authorities are but one arm of HUD.

There are many other HUD programs which are separate and apart, and with which local housing authorities have no involvement.

As for maintenance issues, the Selma Housing Authority manages the only maintenance it is responsible for – its own housing complexes. We do this in-house. Then, when annual capital improvements are scheduled at these complexes, our housing authority follows the HUD-mandated competitive bidding process. Newspaper solicitation of bids, selection of a contractor, and the actual awarding of contracts are done according to HUD procurement regulations.

Every attempt is made to use local and/or minority contractors who are fully qualified, i.e., licensed, bondable and insurable.

Please understand that all housing authority actions are regulated and closely monitored by HUD.

Our Selma Housing Authority staff is comprised of professional, experienced HUD-trained and certified personnel who provide housing services to approximately 1,500 families in our community.

All of our clients are treated equally and with respect.

Our Board of Commissioners is a dedicated, uncompensated group of diverse individuals who, with the highest moral and ethical standards, work together to achieve our goals. Any assertions of improprieties, even when unfounded, are taken very seriously, and we welcome public comment at the beginning of our regularly scheduled meetings.

Those wishing to do so should contact

Lola B. Rogers-Moore, Executive Director, at 874-6271, and ask to be placed on a meeting agenda.

We trust this letter has provided clarification to the public we serve.

Thank you.

The Selma Housing Authority Board of Commissioners:

George Needham, Chairman

Carolyn R. Cox, Vice-Chairman

Annie Montgomery

Betty Finney

The Rev. James Spicer