Lee County public housing nearly filled up
Whiteside’s waiting list gets shorter
DIXON – The Lee County Housing Authority had plenty of vacancies last year.
In 2011, the agency started running ads on cable TV seeking tenants, and that seems to have worked, said Tom Myers, the authority’s executive director. Those ads continue to air.
Whiteside County, meanwhile, has long had a lengthy waiting list. Last year, the list had 180 families – a number that has dropped to 130, officials said.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which subsidizes authorities, likes to see quick turnover in vacant units so that people benefit from them.
Last year, about 40 of the Lee County authority’s 208 units were empty, Myers said. That hurt the authority in HUD’s eyes. The federal agency’s rating for the Lee County authority fell from high performer to troubled performer.
“They hit you really hard when you have vacancies,” Myers said.
Recently, HUD bumped up all agencies’ ratings by 5 points, moving Lee County to standard performer.
Myers said the authority has four families moving in by week’s end, so that will leave just two units vacant – one in Dixon and the other in Amboy.
“By Friday, we’ll be up to 99 percent,” he said.
HUD won’t rate the Lee County authority for another year, but Myers expects to see a big increase in its score.
Earlier this year, the Whiteside authority’s rating dropped from high to standard performer.
Lynn Deter, Whiteside’s executive director, said the number fell because of 13 unoccupied units that were under renovation. The local agency was unaware of a new regulation that required it to get written permission from HUD to allow the units to go unoccupied during renovations, Deter said.
The authority later got the permission, she said. It appealed its score and lost.
The 265-unit Whiteside authority ended up getting what it wanted anyway.
With the recent across-the-board 5-point increase, Whiteside moved to high performer.
Deter said she is worried about a new rule requiring the housing authority to leave units vacant no longer than 10 days, rather than 20.
“Some of our units take more time than others to get refurbished. If someone smoked there, it takes more time,” Deter said. “I feel it will be impossible to meet the 10 days.”
If the authority doesn’t meet the requirement, that could hurt its score, she said.
For more information
–For the Whiteside County Housing Authority, call 815-625-0581 or visit 401 W. 18th St. in Rock Falls.
–For the Lee County Housing Authority, call 815-284-2759 or visit 1000 Washington Ave. in Dixon.
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