Berwick Housing Authority executive director to serve as interim director in Morgan City
BERWICK, La. — Berwick Housing Authority commissioners agreed to allow their executive director, Clarence Robinson Jr., to serve as an interim executive director in Morgan City.
Robinson would still head the Berwick authority where he has been the past 12 years.
The decision was made during the Berwick Housing Authority board of commissioners meeting Tuesday afternoon.
The Berwick commissioners agreed to allow board chairman James Richard and commissioner Jackie Ackel to confer with representatives from the Morgan City board and work out the details.
The Morgan City Housing Authority, “strongly feels that a provisional term by … Clarence Robinson Jr. will successfully guide the MCHA to become a beneficial agency to the Morgan City community,” Morgan City Housing Authority chairman Victory Ho said in a letter to Richard.
Ho said he will set up a special meeting for the Morgan City Housing Authority to begin discussing what it will do.
Robinson arrived at the Berwick Housing Authority in 2001 amid an Office of Inspector General investigation. He attributes cooperation with federal and state agencies and a spirit of openness to correcting the issues within a matter of several months.
Morgan City Housing Authority vice chairman Jerome Guidry and commissioner Jackie Watson attended the meeting Tuesday afternoon in Ho’s absence.
“We need help to get back on track,” Guidry told the Berwick board. “A lot of things came out in the paper and it doesn’t make us look good.”
The Daily Review has reported on a Legislative Auditor’s report that detailed financial overpayments and other findings of deficiencies in following guidelines that eventually led to the June 4 resignation of Charles Spann.
Additionally the Morgan City Housing Authority is in “troubled agency” status with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development because of its assessment score of 49 last year, which is down from 50 the year before. Those scores are based on a scale of 0-100. Anything below a 60 lands the “troubled agency” tag on a housing authority.
“We have been in the same boat as you all before,” Berwick Housing Authority vice chairman Robert Thigpen, said. “I feel Mr. Robinson will help you all out.”
Robinson said the problems at the Berwick agency when he arrived dealt with issues that the inspector general addressed and not assessment scores.
Robinson does not have an idea how long it would take to bring the Morgan City Housing Authority out of troubled status.
“I can’t tell you that until I get there and see what is going on,” Robinson said.
The decision to enter the agreement was made after discussing it in a conference call with Cheryl Williams, who is the director of public housing at the New Orleans field office. Williams told the Berwick commissioners HUD supports the agreement and felt Robinson could handle both agencies.
“Clarence has a background in public housing and Section 8 and … has a capable staff that can run the Berwick Housing Authority in his absence,” Williams said. “But he will not be at the Morgan City Housing Authority five days a week.”
Williams said when the agreement details are completed, they should include a mechanism for the Berwick authority to invoice the Morgan City authority.