Fayetteville Housing Authority carries on with new member

Posted: October 27, 2017 at 1:09 a.m.

NWA Democrat-Gazette/ANDY SHUPE Morgan Manor, operated by the Fayetteville Housing Authority, is seen June 22 at East 12th Place in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE -- The first meeting of the Housing Authority board to feature a new member who has frequently criticized the board's past actions went on Thursday without a hitch.

The City Council on Oct. 3 appointed Melissa Terry to a vacancy on the five-member Housing Authority Board.

Fayetteville Housing Authority

Board members

• Mike Emery, chairman

• Laurence McMahon

• Melissa Terry

• Christopher White

• Carma Unruh

Source: Staff Report

The selection became the subject of controversy. The board selected a different resident to serve, and Chairman Mike Emery questioned the council's move to appoint Terry.

The Housing Authority board has proposed expanding apartments it operates at Morgan Manor, 324 E. 12th Place, and moving residents living in public housing at Willow Heights there. Terry led a vocal effort among several south Fayetteville residents criticizing the plan, which would involve selling Willow Heights to a private developer.

Dozens of members of the public spoke about the issue during Planning Commission and City Council meetings. The council passed the expansion's development plan on Oct. 17.

On Thursday, the board approved some housecleaning items such as the previous meetings' minutes, balance sheets, income statements and paying what it owes for capital improvement work. The meeting lasted about 40 minutes.

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An agenda item to discuss a 10-page letter from a Housing Authority consultant to the city regarding the plan to expand Morgan Manor was removed. Eric Gold of RAD Conversion Specialists couldn't make Thursday's meeting.

Morgan Manor functions under a form of Section 8 called the Rental Assistance Demonstration program, which combines public and private equity to create affordable housing. Gold's firm consults housing authorities in how to convert properties from traditional public housing.

At the end of Thursday's meeting, Emery acknowledged the elephant in the room.

"It's my sincere hope that we can all come together and work toward the goal of why we're all here, which is safe and affordable housing for people in need," he said. "I'm pledging to work toward that goal. I'm hoping everyone else does, too."

Terry emphasized the importance of transparency and engaging the public going forward.

"I think everybody is in agreement our goals are the same," she said. "We're just looking at different approaches about how to do that."

The board's next meeting will be 6 p.m. Nov. 16 in Room 111 at City Hall, 113 W. Mountain St.

NW News on 10/27/2017