News From Terre Haute, Indiana

August 6, 2013

Housing Authority approves upgrades

Board prepares for expected decrease in federal funds

Arthur Foulkes
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — A family housing community in Terre Haute is about to get a facelift.

The Terre Haute Housing Authority board of directors on Monday awarded a contract to C.H. Garmong & Son Construction of Terre Haute for $480,700 to spruce up Morton Lewis Court, a family housing development operated by the Housing Authority.

Garmong was the lower of two bids for the job, which will include replacing roofs, siding, exterior doors, windows and heating and air conditioning units, said Jeff Stewart, executive director of the Housing Authority.

Stewart told the Housing Authority board he expects the work to begin before the end of the year and be completed, once started, in about three months.

Morton Lewis Court is north of Union Hospital’s campus on North Fourth Street. It contains more than a dozen housing units.

The Housing Authority provides low-income housing to about 2,000 families and residents in Terre Haute at several locations.

n Also Monday, the board approved the Housing Authority’s 2014 fiscal year budget of $9.7 million. The Housing Authority, which employs about 60 people, receives its funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Stewart told the board he expects a tighter budget in 2014, because of cuts in federal spending.

“It’s going to make us keep a pretty close eye on things,” Stewart said.

n Finally, the board heard a request from housing advocate Muriel Ryan, co-founder of Families by Choice, a local charity, and a member of the area’s homeless coalition. Ryan asked about a relatively new Housing Authority policy limiting those attending housing appeal hearings to the head-of-the-household or the lease holder.

The policy has been in place about two or three years, Stewart said, adding it is designed to prevent numerous friends and relatives from disrupting or attempting to influence the hearings.

“It allows us to sit one-on-one with the applicant,” Stewart told Ryan, adding, however, that he believes the authority could consider amending those rules to allow a housing advocacy organization to also have a representative at a hearing to assist an applicant.

“It’s a conversation we ought to have,” Stewart said. He said Ryan would hear from him regarding the next possible steps by the end of this week.

Reporter Arthur Foulkes can be reached at 812-231-4232 or arthur.foulkes@tribstar.com