In its first review of the Chester Housing Authority (CHA) since the agency emerged from 20 years of Federal court oversight at the beginning of 2014, the U. S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) says CHA is operating its public housing and Housing Choice Voucher programs extremely well.
In addition, the assessment notes the positive communication between CHA and the residents it serves."HUD has the right and ability to evaluate public housing agencies at any time and of course we welcome honest scrutiny," said CHA executive director Steven A. Fischer. "It is a testament to our staff that HUD issued such a glowing review.
"Regarding CHA's public housing, HUD wrote: The developments are…high caliber assets of which CHA, the Board of Commissioners and the City of Chester should be proud. The (intimate) level of staff awareness, implemented policies and procedures, and their reports indicate that effective systems are in place for monitoring both CHA-managed and third-party-managed developments.Regarding the Housing Choice Voucher Program, the HUD assessment stated: The Chester HCV program does in fact have key managerial controls in place and that the core functions of the HCV program appear to be operating quite well, particularly in the context of a challenging administrative funding environment. This has been accomplished through a combination of knowledgeable, experienced housing professionals at the Authority along with effective use of contractors and technology…it appears the CHA's choices have been deliberate and well informed.
The report also noted ongoing community-wide crime statistics showing a decrease in crime on public housing properties. "Contributing to the decrease is the dedication of the CHA Police Department," the assessment stated.A glowing component of the report described the relationship between CHA and the community: It was evident that communication between all parties is positive: The Chester Housing Authority eagerly promotes active resident programs and activities that contribute to a self-sufficient environment.
The Resident Advisory Board and Resident Councils demonstrated a feeling of empowerment by being encouraged to participate and contribute meaningful input to the CHA's overall mission and operations."We take a tremendous amount of pride in the healthy lifestyle programs we offer as well as our community discussion groups where residents can air their challenges and experiences. We appreciate HUD's acknowledgement of the benefit of that work," Fischer said.
The report notes that CHA's Finance Dept. staff has the education, training and experience necessary to account for the Authority's federal awards in a timely and accurate manner. And the report says the Board of Commissioners appears to have a working knowledge of the Federal, State and local laws that guide CHA's operations.
The upbeat assessment was presented to staff at a special Thanksgiving week event held at CHA's Bennett Community Center. Staff used the occasion to honor recently retired Chester Fire Commissioner James Johnson, a city official who executive director Fischer said truly worked cooperatively with CHA during his years in office. Also honored was Wilbert Jarrett, an ex-offender who has become a model employee for the agency.