Housing authority improvements take shape

Kyle resident Ana Flores recalls a time when living conditions within the Pete Dressen homes on Burleson Street were downright unsafe. 

Flores, who has lived in the Section 8 housing community for roughly 17 years, said she and her mother were forced to move to another unit due to an abundance of roaches in the one they had been living in. 

Times, however, have changed for Flores. And while there are still some issues, Flores said the response rate from management is better than what it was.

“They tell us (tenants) as soon as we notice something to call them (maintenance),” Flores said.

That’s been the goal for the Kyle Housing Authority (KHA), the agency that oversees the city’s 51 Section 8 housing units, which for the past 12 months has worked to rectify roughly 30 years of neglect.

It’s been roughly one year since a letter from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) detailed deficiencies within the city’s public housing program.

Those deficiencies, which were found during a HUD audit, included severe maintenance issues within units in Kyle’s two subsidized housing developments, the Pete Dressen and Charles Young homes.

HUD’s letter also detailed concerns about internal controls, funding and other administrative issues.

It was discovered that the Kyle Housing Authority had been operating without a full board of directors for more than five years. That board was responsible for authorizing procurement contracts and approving increases in payroll.

KHA is not a city owned or operated entity, and the organization gets funding from both the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Michelle Lopez, vice chair of the Kyle Housing Authority Board, said they have made a lot of progress since last year, including appointing an interim executive director.

Vickie Simpson, who had been the previous executive director, resigned shortly after the letter from HUD was sent to Kyle Mayor Todd Webster. According to HUD officials, Simpson is not expected to face any legal issues stemming from HUD’s letter.

Frank Arredondo was named interim executive director until a more permanent replacement can be found.

“At this point we are all caught up with any of the outstanding issues that we had in place,” Lopez said referring to issues with communication, issues with units in disrepair and issues with administrative spending and leadership.

Lopez said Arredondo has made himself more available to residents of the two properties and has encouraged them to report repair requests as soon as they notice them.

“It’s great for us (the Board of KHA) to understand what it takes day-to-day to run the two properties under the Kyle Housing Authority,” Lopez said.

Lopez said the organization now holds monthly meetings in the Kyle City Hall chambers and encourages all Kyle residents to attend the open meetings if they ever have any questions or want additional information.

Lopez said the board is working to address the issues of the two aging properties that have been in use since the organization’s inception in 1977.

“The board is addressing the options/solutions for the two aging properties and know there will be some issues with each property that need to be addressed,” Lopez said.

Flores said the only issue with her current unit that she shares with her mother and two young daughters is that her washing machine has a leak that allows water to run into her daughter’s bedroom. She recently reported that problem.

Lopez said the newly reorganized Kyle Housing Authority Board has resolved previous reporting issues with the two government entities that provide them funding and has become more transparent to the community they serve.

“The position has a lot of responsibility so balancing the administrative expectations along with ensuring residents are being taken care of is important,” Lopez said.

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