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Housing Authority board decides to solicit applications for a new executive director

April 26, 2002|By AARON CLAVERIE

Staff Writer

CALEXICO — The Housing Authority board of commissioners will re-advertise and solicit applications from anyone interested in becoming the authority's executive director.

After longtime director Lupita Rios was fired last year the board adopted a revolving interim executive director system that was scrapped shortly thereafter. The board appointed Christina Rojas as interim director. After board commissioners grilled her about a training trip to Las Vegas she took, Rojas resigned.

Humberto Celaya then was named director and given a 90-day contract. He lasted a week, leaving after commissioners found out he was a Housing Authority resident. The authority's senior mechanic, Peter Castro, was named interim director Monday.


After Thursday's regular board meeting, newly elected Vice Chairman Roberto Morales explained why the board wasn't able to come to terms with any of the three people it recently interviewed for the executive director position.

"Things didn't work out," he said.

One of the candidates wanted too much money, according to Morales, and another wasn't bilingual. While the Housing Authority didn't specify that a candidate had to be bilingual when the position was advertised, Morales said U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development officials thought it was a crucial skill for any prospective executive director, according to Morales.

Earlier during the meeting, the board reorganized, electing Irene Hueso-Mora as chairwoman and Morales as vice chairman.

"Do I get a hammer, too?" Morales asked.

The board then tackled the proposed budget it will submit to HUD's Los Angeles office.

The board will submit a budget with a $65,000 deficit. While the authority could be in the red depending on what HUD decides to do, Commissioner Adriana Esparza said a $65,000 deficit is better than the projected $140,000 deficit the board was faced with earlier this week.

To whittle down the deficit during Thursday's meeting, the board cut two positions that had been recommended and lopped off $10,000 from the salary of another proposed position.

After hammering on the budget, the board discussed the Victoria Manor/ Luis "Spud" Moreno Senior Project.

In a few weeks the authority will have to send $1.2 million to the California Tax Credit Allocation Committee so a partnership between the non-profit Housing Authority and for-profit Beyond Shelter Housing Corp. of Los Angeles can receive close to $9 million in tax credits that the partners have pledged to the companies putting the finishing touches of the under-construction apartment building on the corner of Highway 98 and Rancho Frontera Avenue

Housing Authority officials have said it only has around $800,000 of the $1.2 million it pledged when it applied for the tax credits.

Morales said, "We need to pay for that amount that's missing."

To figure out a way to do that, he's met with administration staffers who have three good ideas how to raise the cash.

Morales wouldn't say what those three ideas are but he said one involves asking the City Council to come up with the $400,000 it originally offered to loan the Housing Authority.

In early 2000, the council agreed to loan the authority $400,000 for the tax credit application, with a contingency that the money would be loaned if the authority and Beyond Shelter Housing Corp. were successful securing tax credits from the state.

In October 2000 the council rescinded the promise of a loan after City Attorney Michael Rood said it could legally do so.

In November the Sacramento-based allocation committee awarded the authority and its partner a reservation for the credits.

Representatives for the partners claim the city should reconsider its decision and loan the authority the $400,000. Rood and other city officials have repeatedly said the city is not obligated to do so.

After Thursday's meeting, Morales was asked if there were other ways for the authority to cover its $1.2 million obligation without getting money from the city. He said two of the three ideas he has talked about with city staffers don't involve asking the city for money.

Asked if one of the ideas was a bake sale, Morales laughed and said, "No. We want it one big chunk."

>> Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419 or

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