Senate approves four to Housing Authority Board
Published: August 8, 2013
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ST. THOMAS - Four nominations to the V.I. Housing Authority board - nominees who eventually will comprise the agency's first local board in more than a decade - got a nod from the 30th Legislature on Wednesday.
The full Senate confirmed - with glowing reviews - the nominations of Luis Sylvester, Noreen Michael, George Blackhall and Daphne Edwards to the V.I. Housing Authority board.
"These nominees are some of the best we've seen in a long time," said Senate President Shawn-Michael Malone.
The nominees, once sworn in, initially will act as an advisory board to the federal official who oversees the V.I. Housing Authority, which has been in federal receivership since 2003.
That U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development official is Kimberly Wize.
Establishing a local board is just part of the process - which includes other items as well - that must occur before the agency is returned to local control.
Government House characterized the nomination of board members as a "giant step" toward regaining local control of the agency.
HUD will provide training, including training on governance, to the new board members to help prepare them to become a permanent board, Housing Authority Executive Director Robert Graham has said.
Other things that must occur before the authority can be returned to local control include passing a top-to-bottom assessment and inspection by HUD, according to Graham. That assessment comes upon the request of the receiver - a request that has not yet occurred.
However, Graham said last month that the authority is closer to returning to local control than it has been before.
When the agency is returned to local control, the board would move from an advisory board to a fully functioning board with oversight of the agency.
The V.I. Housing Authority board by statute is to have seven members. Two of the positions are statutory: the Commissioner of Human Services and the director of the V.I. Housing Finance Authority.
An additional resident of the Housing Authority - Edwards lives in William's Delight Villas housing community - who has yet to be nominated would take the remaining seat.
The V.I. Housing Authority's last local board was dissolved in August 2003, when HUD seized control of the V.I. Housing Authority after HUD found the local agency in default on its obligation to maintain complete and accurate financial records.
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