By Tammy Moore Teague
To Beverly Walter, Executive Director of the Waldron Housing Authority, her job is quite personal. In fact, she is following her father’s footsteps and fullfiling a legacy of service.
Walter has worked for the housing authority for almost five years. She started out as a part-time administrative assistant when she began in March of 2014. Then, she was promoted to housing manager in January of 2015. Later, in May of 2017, she became executive director.
“We lived at the Housing Authority when I was a child, and my dad worked part time making units ready to lease,” explained Walter. “This was off and on from 1979 to about 1984.”
Walter has been on a mission to improve both the physical conditions of the housing as well as improving the stigma associated with public housing. Additionally, she has been working towards improved relations with local law enforcement. “I am strict when it comes to drugs. I don’t allow them on the property, and if you are caught, I ban you from the property.”
It is important to her that the office and all the employees be approachable. “We have relaxed the dress code for the office, making us more approachable from a client standpoint. Open Door is our policy, residents are glad they can come straight in to pay their rent, or sit and discuss an issue, sometimes just to visit. I like making people feel welcome, and we are trying hard to make sure they are.”
These improvements have proved quite successful for Walter and her team. “I am the leader of a fantastic team. I’m nobody’s boss, just a team member that happens to sign their paychecks. Without a strong team, no business can succeed.”
Team members include:
Danny Harrison, Maintenance Foreman. Harrison has been with the Housing Authority the longest, nine years in January. “He likes things done right, and takes the time to make sure the units are in good shape. He can fix just about anything, from changing a bulb to cleaning out a clogged drain, even building professional grade cabinetry! He knows the property and it’s quirks. He can tell you where every hole in the yards are, when a unit last had a new coat of paint, that kind of thing. Danny is a huge asset to the team, and he genuinely cares about the property and every resident we have. He is quiet and a man of few words, but one thing he does have is compassion and love for his job.”
Kent Shupert, Maintenance Mechanic. Shupert has been with the Housing Authority for approximately three years. His job is to assist Harrison in daily tasks, including inventory, mowing, helping with work orders called in by residents, and making units ready to lease. “He also takes his time to make sure things are done right. While he doesn’t know the property as well as Danny, he does a great job of trying to learn from Danny.”
Mickey Harris, Housing Manager. Harris started with the Housing Authority at the end of July 2017. She started out as a part-time office clerk and advanced to the role of Housing Manager. She is in charge of leasing units, running the front office, collecting rent, and a backup for Walter when she’s out of the office. “She knows the residents and makes a point to try and get on a friendly level with everyone from day one. If I say “who is in unit five?” She can tell you who they are, their kids names, the breed and name of their dog, and a little about them. It’s important to have someone in the front office that can build relationships with our residents.”
This team recently celebrated the success of being ranked a high performer by a HUD inspector. “This High Performer Stats is a great achievement for the Housing Authority. We accomplished this goal as a TEAM. With one missing piece, we could not have done it.”
Every two to three years HUD sends an inspector to go over the property, looking for deficiencies. This physical inspection accounts for 40% of the final score. The remaining 60% is based on the “office score”. This percentage is based on vacancy rates, capital fund management, and finances. The property must have a score of at least 90% to be ranked high performer. This is the first year since 2011 that the Housing Authority has been ranked as High Performer.
“I took this job thinking it would be something I could do part-time and temporarily while looking for another job. That job never came along because I stopped looking. I had only been at the Housing Authority for about eight months when we hit a rough patch with management. The residents were unhappy, staff was unhappy, the public was unhappy. There was a management change, and I wanted to leave but felt I could not leave because then who would be that voice for the residents? It’s important to me because I believe that everyone in life needs help at one point. If we can make a difference in just one person by providing them with safe, secure, sanitary housing, then the system hasn’t failed them. I want to make sure that the system doesn’t fail our residents. In my own opinion, we have the nicest apartment complex in town, and I hope to keep improving it”
The Waldron Housing Authority will be hosting an open house on December 4, 2018 from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Community Room at the Housing Authority office located at 1092 Shipley Circle Drive in Waldron. They will serve cookies, coffee, punch, and hot chocolate. Additionally, they will have a model unit open for the public to view and booths set up by local service providers so that the residents, as well as the general public, can make sure they are receiving all the information they need about services they might qualify for. Those businesses include: Dalton’s Place, Area Agency on Aging, Chamber of Commerce, Kindred at Home, Department of Human Services, Scott County Health Unit, U of A Rich Mountain, and Scott County Boys & Girls Club.
Waldron Housing Authority Board Members are:
Konnor McKay, Chairman
Tyler Harvey, Vice Chairman
Pat Richmond, Commissioner
Arlene English, Commissioner
Romilda Morrison, Resident Commissioner
By Tammy Moore Teague