Housing Authority turning the corner - KALB-TV News Channel 5 & CBS 2

Housing Authority turning the corner

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ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB News Channel 5)- In May 2011 the Alexandria Housing Authority Board requested that Wanda Davis be removed from her position as director. A short time later a state audit revealed that Davis took for herself or gave to others more than a half a million dollars worth of unauthorized funds.

The AHA's new director took over a short time after and since then- he's been trying to turn things around. News Channel 5's Rachael Penton takes a look at the progress.

Bobby Collins took over as director of the Alexandria Housing Authority in 2012. At the time the AHA had a 2.5 million dollar debt, 57 audit finding problems, and an occupancy rate of only 69%. But now, he says, they're turning the corner.

"Now we're at 96% occupancy and we're housing 103 more families then we were then and probably more than we've housed at this housing authority in the last decade. We're back to our core mission. We've shored up our finances, we've paid off a lot of debts," says Collins.

That core mission is to provide affordable housing to low income families like Chris Morel and his family. They've lived at Sycamore Place Apartments for six years and have seen improvements during the past year and a half.

"Like I said it's a step in the right direction and we're trying to get everything back up to par basically," says Morel.

They also give veterans a place to live so that they can find jobs after returning home from service.

"It takes some of the burden off of my shoulders ad far as having to pay for housing on my own. You know, keeping that worry out for me," says veteran Jessica Armstrong.

The Housing Authority says that although they've made improvements they've still got a long way to go.

"To try to revitalize the housing stock that we have. Some of it honestly needs to be demolished and replaced so those are the directions we're going to be pursuing over the next few years to try to get some of those things going in Alexandria that's going on in other cities to modernize our housing," adds Collins.

The Alexandria Housing Authority aims to put the problems of the past behind them and move forward to bring more affordable housing to families in need here in Cenla.

The AHA says they hope to receive federal funding that will allow them to renovate current housing projects and build some new ones as well.

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