DANVILLE – Details are still being worked out for the merger of the Vermilion County Housing Authority and the Housing Authority of the City of Danville.
The housing authority board on Thursday tabled resolutions to permanently transfer the operations of the county housing authority to the city housing authority effective Jan. 1, 2020; transfer the operations, management and administration of the county's Low Income Public Housing Program to the city's housing authority for it to accept jurisdiction; and close bank accounts at First Farmers and transfer funds to the city's housing authority at Central Illinois Bank to have more dialogue with the city and county on some of the details being worked out.
Some of those details include how a joint board with one agency would continue to have county representation, said city housing authority executive director Jaclyn Vinson.
“Our intent is to ensure continued county representation and appointments by the county board …,” Vinson said.
Vinson said it’s proposed the city would have four appointments and three appointments would come from the county board for the seven-member joint board. This aligns closely with the public housing unit ratio between the city and county, she said.
She said the merger resolutions are anticipated to be acted on by the city's housing authority board at its November board meeting.
The merger can take place now with the county housing authority's final bank loan resolved and the loan no longer being a financial liability.
The loan default problem with Longview Bank & Trust began with a former county executive director who took out a $1.6 million loan through a bank without permission from the housing authority board or HUD. The loan was refinanced and the additional amount borrowed prompted an in-house audit of the housing authority's financial books, according to past reports.
Vinson said they’ve made a financial settlement with the bank and there’s no longer any litigation.
“It’s done and paid,” she said about a $215,000 payment.
Vinson said the merger of the two housing authorities will not affect housing units or federal funding.
Federal funding will be impacted due to the demolition of units at Fair Oaks and when the application is resubmitted for the demolition of Ramey Court’s 26 units in 13 buildings affecting 23 families in Georgetown. The demolition application is on the basis of the structures' physical obsolescence. Green space will be left as has occurred in Fair Oaks.
Those demolitions were planned regardless of the merger, Vinson said, adding that they also will not be building new public housing.
She said because of the physical condition of the buildings and required capital money to bring them up to code and fix them, it is more cost effective to demolish the structures.
She expects the majority of the 23 displaced families to stay in public housing or in housing in Georgetown.
She said the merger will “whittle down the economies of scale” for administration and oversight, such as with director and financial officer salaries, auditing and other costs.
“It allows us to be more strategic and efficient …,” Vinson said. “This is a good thing for the agencies.”
Vinson said there will be better and more efficient use of federal funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for local public housing.
The city and county still will have separate site-based waiting lists.
There could be some changes with the physical location of some of the property managers on site
In other business Thursday at the city's housing authority board meeting, the board approved an approximately $58,000 contract with Owens Excavating of Oakwood for site restoration at Fair Oaks public housing complex after the six building demolitions.
Vinson said there are bricks, rocks and other debris to clean up and curb cuts for ramps need to be rebuilt. The sites also will be seeded and watered and straw will be put down.
She added that the city didn’t need all of the additional $40,000 for the last part of the demolition work.
Work is finishing up also on the administration building and Mer Che Manor lobby renovations.
Also Thursday, the board re-elected HACD board chairman Pat O’Shaughnessy and vice chairman Lon Henderson.