Reconstruction begins for Kyle housing board

As fallout continues to settle from the Kyle Housing Authority scandal, a newly created board of directors is starting to pick up the pieces.

Five new members of the Kyle Housing Authority board were sworn in during a meeting held at Kyle City Hall Dec. 1. The five constitute the first members appointed to the board since 2007.

Michelle Lopez, vice chair of the KHA board, said the board plans to “dig in” and begin the process of fixing the KHA.

“We want to make this something that will work well for residents, and our city can be proud of,” Lopez said. “Something that can be effective and efficient.”

Kyle City Manager Scott Sellers said he was encouraged about the strengths each board member “brings to the table.” He said Mayor Todd Webster, who has power to appoint KHA board members, targeted specific roles on the board to “effectuate any changes” to the KHA.

One of the board’s first orders of business was accepting KHA Executive Director Vickie Simpson’s resignation, which was submitted to Sellers. The resignation will go into effect on Dec. 31.

During that time, Lopez said the board plans to make contact with anyone who “may be able to provide an overall picture for us.” Lopez said the board aims to contact Simpson prior to its next meeting on Dec. 8.

Lopez said the board would also look into the details of the KHA, which was the subject of an audit conducted by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The audit alleged deficiencies extending to a lack of oversight and financial issues.

While the board has not seen financials of the KHA, Lopez said she expects that is something they plan to look into. That could mean a potential audit of the KHA down the road.

“We are just trying to find out what’s there, so we can find out what road we need to go down,” Lopez said.

Lopez, along with Daniel Harper, chairman of the board, said Kyle Mayor Todd Webster notified them about the board about a month ago.

Harper said he was asked if he had the ability to serve, adding that Webster “didn’t know much about the issue” and had little detail to share.

“There was a lot of gray area around that kind of housing authority,” Harper said.

Lopez said she was “shocked” when she read allegations within the HUD letter.

“I don’t like knowing it was in our backyard and no one has known it has been an issue,” Lopez said. “It brought to light the magnitude of what we are embarking on, to put this moving in the right direction.”

While the HUD letter showed issues to address, Lopez said the board doesn’t yet know the full extent of what they are working with.

For Harper, focusing on the people who live in the two public housing developments that were under the KHA is priority. He said talking with residents who live in the developments is also a critical component, as they are stakeholders.

“One of the things you can’t lose sight of is it isn’t just the executive director or the board. These are people who live in these two units who have needs. That has to be addressed first,” Harper said. “We want to worry about the present day and the future, then we can worry about the past.”

Other members of the new KHA oversight board include Clara Rodriguez, secretary, and David Salazar.

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