An official from the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Cleveland field office reviewed the Jefferson Metropolitan Housing Authority's policies and regulations before meeting in a 23-minute closed-door session with the authority's board of commissioners Wednesday afternoon.
Jimmy Davis, a public housing revitalization specialist, said he could not publicly discuss the contents of the report he will submit to the Cleveland office but did say he will make several recommendations.
JMHA Executive Director Joe Costantini said the executive session "was necessary to discuss issues that are required by HUD to be kept confidential."
Costantini also announced during the special meeting that he will be sitting down with city officials twice a month starting Monday "to exchange information to remedy problems."
Davis said those meetings "are the first step. This will be a work in progress and can be fine-tuned as you move forward."
Davis said he reviewed the JMHA policies and regulations following a request from Rep Bill Johnson, R-Ohio, for an investigation into alleged criminal activity in public housing units in Jefferson County. Johnson filed his request with the HUD offices in Washington, D.C., on June 26.
"The Cleveland field office sent Mr. Davis to determine if we are in compliance. He will submit a report to the field office and we will receive a copy at some point. I have always believed our policies are within the federal guidelines," Costantini said after Davis left the meeting.
A spokesman for Johnson said Wednesday afternoon said the congressman has not heard back yet from the agency in response to his inquiry.
"We are continuing to monitor the situation as we wait for an official response from HUD and Secretary Donovan," said Ben Keeler in Johnson's Marietta office.
Prior to the closed-door meeting, the commissioners heard from representatives from the Hilltop Community Development Corp., who urged JMHA and city officials to crack down on alleged criminal activities in Section 8 housing in the Pleasant Heights and LaBelle neighborhoods.
"We provide the housing voucher and we cannot evict a tenant living in a Section 8 housing unit.
But we can make sure the landlord is aware of any criminal activity. Our powers are limited to stopping the housing voucher. It is up to the landlord to evict a tenant," Costantini said.
In other business, the board unanimously approved awarding a $129,000 bid to C.M. Mullins Construction of Bloomingdale for the replacement of the rear entrance canopy at the John F. Kennedy apartment building.