The city got good news, but it proved incorrect.
This week, Gary Gaylord, the contract accountant for the Las Vegas Public Housing Authority, told the City Council that he had good news: A federal agency had removed the authority’s troubled designation, although it remained unofficial.
“All the work the staff has done to get us there has been wonderful. We want to keep it that way,” he said.
The only problem: The authority is still deemed troubled.
Patricia Campbell, a spokeswoman with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, said Thursday her agency hadn’t changed the local authority’s troubled designation. She said the misinformation went from someone in HUD to Gaylord’s office.
“Someone got the impression that the troubled status had been removed, but that wasn’t the case,” she said.
Gaylord said he and the HUD staff were a “little bit premature” in saying that the authority wasn’t troubled any longer. But he said the authority is getting close to a non-troubled designation.
“We just have to continue what we’re doing,” he said.
Three years ago, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development designated Las Vegas’ housing authority as troubled.
The federal agency deemed the authority troubled because of a number of alleged problems, including inconsistencies in its waiting list and a high number of vacancies. As a result, the authority has been under a heightened level of oversight.
During the council meeting, officials didn’t react to Gaylord’s announcement. Afterward, Mayor Tony Marquez said he hadn’t been made aware of the supposed development.
Chris Barela, the city’s housing director, said he expected the troubled status would soon be removed.
“Everyone associated with this process isn’t on the same page yet. Soon everyone will be on the same page and realize the improvements that have taken place,” Barela said.
At a meeting last month, Barela said he was optimistic that the authority would soon see its troubled designation removed because of progress on two fronts — remodeling of unoccupied units and improvements in finances.
Barela said this week that the authority is on track to rehabilitating 13 units, a project that has been delayed because of a planned removal of asbestos. He also said the authority is reroofing 21 buildings in the Apache area.
He reported that work orders are continuing to decline.
One of the requirements to get out of troubled status was for the City Council, which acts as the housing board, to get training about federal housing regulations. More than a year ago, council members did just that.
Councilman Morris Madrid said such training was helpful and that he hopes the city can provide another session.
If the authority's designation becomes official, the city may resume its planning for a new housing development on Mills Avenue, where the city demolished a previous public housing subdivision in early 2007. Officials have said they were holding off on that project until they could remove the troubled status.