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Calexico housing commissioners uncertain of future on board

March 28, 2001|By AARON CLAVERIE, Staff Writer

CALEXICO — When the six commissioners of the Calexico Housing Authority board sit down Thursday for their regular meeting, it could be the last time they do so as a group.

Board Chairman John Romo and commissioners Isabel Aguilar, Gloria Rodriguez, Manuel Ayala, Jose Quiroz and Jesus "Chuy" Solano could be replaced with the members of the City Council at the Tuesday council meeting.

"I have no idea what will happen on April 3," Rodriguez said. "Ultimately it's up to the council. They put us here."

The City Council scheduled the hearing for next week's meeting after months of protest against the authority board.

"I think they are going to remove the board," Solano said.

"This thing has gotten out of control. That's why I requested my removal. It's easier for the council to remove the entire board."


He said it is possible the City Council could claim to be overwhelmed by its own duties.

"Instead of removing the board they could monitor our proceedings on a monthly basis," Solano said.

He added: "If they did that, the situation would only get worse."

For six months complaints against the authority board have centered around the 5H home ownership plan that would allow renters at the Casas del Sol housing projects to buy their homes.

Housing Authority Executive Director Lupita Rios has worked for eight years to implement that program.

Earlier this month the program was approved and a consultant was hired to begin the process of selling the homes.

Maria Gasca, the president of the Housing Authority's Resident Council, said Rios mismanaged the application for the 5H plan and held up the entire process because she tried to circumvent HUD regulations.

"The issue is not whether the 5H is approved or not," Gasca said. "The issue is whether it is delayed."

Ema Silva, secretary for the Resident Council, said in addition to the 5H snafu, she has a stack of individual complaints from residents that Rios has ignored.

All of the lingering issues will be raised once more at the Housing Authority meeting at 5 p.m. Thursday at City Hall.

The authority board will also hear a request from members of the Resident Council who want the authority to pay for newspaper ads for the residents.

They are requesting the ads because four members of the Housing Authority board ran a newspaper ad and the Resident Council wants the chance to respond.

In another issue regarding the Resident Council, the board will vote on whether the Calexico Elks will be appointed as the independent third party for Resident Council elections.

Elections for the Resident Council should have been conducted last year. For months the Resident Council has operated with four members.

Gasca said the board has not moved quickly enough to hire a consultant to help residents with the regulations and rules that govern a proper election.

According to the minutes of a meeting five months ago, Solano requested that a consultant be hired to assist residents with their election and to help fill out the paperwork to apply for funding.

There was no action taken because Romo said a consultant for the council could not be hired until after the elections were conducted and the board was officially recognized.

If the Resident Council does not follow specific guidelines, the election will not be recognized by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The authority board cannot get new funding without a recognized resident council because that paperwork has to be a cooperative effort between the board and the council.

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