Board of Commissioner Chairwoman Kathy Dreyer said she didn’t know why --- the local organization's spot on a state list of physically troubled housing authorities and the authority's decision to require executive director applicants to have college degrees are some of Dreyer's recent speculations on the board's inability to fill the position.
“I don’t know if people just think it’s too big of a problem to come into,” Dreyer said. “But a lot of things have gotten worked out.”
The Anniston Housing Authority landed on the state Department of Housing and Urban Development’s physically troubled list after not passing its annual physical assessment for three years.
It did pass that assessment last year, however, and Dreyer thinks that should remove the authority from the list. But it hasn’t been officially removed yet.
“Some people are scared of troubled housing authorities,” said Lewis McDonald, executive director of Jefferson County Housing Authority. “It’s hard for me to know, because I don’t mind a challenge.”
McDonald estimated it generally takes 60 to 90 days to hire a new director.
It's taken much longer for the Anniston Housing Authority.
The board advertised for a new director shortly after the members approved a separation agreement with the former director. The advertisements went in The Anniston Star, as well as in newsletters and websites for the state and national housing authority associations. Although the advertisements drew in more than 30 potential candidates, that campaign ended with no one being hired.
“We tried to hire somebody, but it was a conditional offer of employment based on the usual things that CEOs are subject to,” Dreyer said.
After further investigation the candidate did not meet the qualifications, Dreyer said.
The board then turned to a recruiter who specializes in searching for housing authority administrators, Dreyer said. Again, the board had lots of responses – 28, Dreyer said – but when it came time to interview, the candidates the board chose begged off. One candidate went so far as to drive to Anniston for an interview this week, but then cancelled, saying he had no interest in moving here, Dreyer said.
Commissioner Curley Davis also doesn’t understand why they haven’t been able to find a suitable candidate for executive director. However, he added that, currently, things are moving along well with the interim director.
Currently Geraldine Allen, director of operations for the authority, is serving as interim director.
“Geraldine (Allen) was basically the assistant anyway,” Davis said. “Based on what we’re hearing in our meetings, everything is moving along pretty good.”
The commissioners decided Wednesday that they would again work with the recruiter to search for a director, said board member James Smith
"He received some late applications," Smith said. "We're going to have him send those applications to us, review them and then we'll go from there."
The commissioners have sought someone with a college degree and experience working in housing authorities. But Dreyer acknowledged not all of the housing authorities in the state have executive directors with college degrees.
She didn’t think the board had been too demanding in their requirements but was starting to second guess that.
Hollis Wormsby, operations specialist with the Birmingham office of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, said the qualifications for directors vary throughout the state.
McDonald said he didn’t think asking for a college degree was too stringent. He pointed out three current advertisements in the Public Housing Authority Directors Association website; all required a college degree. However, McDonald said, he didn’t think all positions across the state required that level of education.
“It depends a lot on what the housing authority needs,” McDonald said. “I always like to see a bachelor’s degree preferred or an equivalent combination of education and experience.”
Star staff writer Laura Camper at 256-235-3545. On Twitter @Lcamper_star.