Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Clatsop County Housing Authority Board has agreed to provide specific records to the county Board of Commissioners after hiring an attorney to represent them as the County Commission considers dissolving the board for the low income housing organization and taking the power to run the CCHA directly.  The CCHA Board as also requested all communications between the county commissioners, the County Manager, the District Attorney, and a member of their own board saying they are looking for evidence of a conflict of interest in the county's move to take over the CCHA.

 

The current incarnation of the housing authority board came about in the early to mid 90's and has been separate from the county commission since that time but since the agency was first created in the mid 70's it has been a stormy relationship.  The county commission has the right to take the responsibilities of the housing authority onto itself and has done so in the past.

At the heart of this there seem to be several issues but principal among those revolves around an incident that occurred a couple of years ago when the property management company that actually takes care of the day to day operation of the low income housing sent a letter of resignation to the housing authority board after the authority refused to allow the property management company to evict a tenant who was found in violation of the rules by allowing two men to live in the apartment with her and her child. The two men had criminal records she was warned about it. She is also accused of giving minor children alcohol and taking drugs in their presence and teaching them how to shop lift from a particular store where she was later arrested for shoplifting. With all of that the management company wanted her out of the housing and the authority refused to allow it. During yesterdays special meeting of the CCHA board it was reported that a state investigation of the charges were found to be baseless.

It was further revealed Thursday that the CCHA had a number of previous issues with the property management firm IPM that included difficulty in communicating with the company when questions arose regarding late mortgage payments which the company was appearently responsible for making and when the properties they manged for CCHA were shown to be losing money. 

The Housing Authority decided to take property management in house at that point and bank the money they had been paying.  The meeting minutes do not indicate that there was any discussion during their meetings regarding the resignation, the reasons behind it or how the board might be involved.  However, the CCHA meeting minutes supplied by County Manager Scott Sommers to his Comissioners only included two meetings immediately following IPM's resignation letter and not the others over a period of months where the CCHA claims their board had lengthy discussions over the issues surrounding the property management firm's business practises.

There is also a question about the housing authorities procurement practices. Apparently the second cousin of the director got a $140,000 contract to do some work on the apartments. While the director recused herself from the process there are some questions about exactly what the process was for hiring that particular contractor. Although the minutes of the meeting indicated members of a subcommittee made the hiring decision after contacting contractors in the phone book to find out which ones might have the proper licensing and asking if they wanted to see a bid proposal.  Thursday the CCHA Board made it clear that they did advertise a request for proposals to potential contractors beyond the effort to contact those listed in local directories. The contractor had to be certified to handle lead based paints.

At the Thursday meeting CCHA Board Chair Terry Columbe read two documents into the record.  The first was an account month by month of the board's discussion and direction regarding the property management firm and another making the records requests from the county about any conversations that were held regarding the CCHA board.

 

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