Months after electing an interim executive director, the Mission Housing Authority hired Mission City Planner Jaime Acevedo to run the housing authority.
The move was approved by the board during a Tuesday, March 24 meeting. Acevedo will start his new full time position April 13 with a $110,000 starting salary.
Interim Executive Director Antonio “Tony” Sandoval will assist with the transition process until then.
“I’ve been a public servant all my life, I’m driven to help people,” Acevedo said. “I’ve been in positions that allow me to do that and change people’s lives.”
Acevedo has served the city of Mission since the year 2000 when he started as the director of the city’s Community Development Block Grant program. Prior to that he served as a program administrator with the Hidalgo County Urban County Program for two years where he handled funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
“The urban county program gave me experience with the administration of federal funds through HUD like the housing authority does so I have five years of experience dealing with federal funds,” Acevedo explained. “There’s certain regulations and guidelines you must follow with federal funds that I am familiar with. I’m taking these skills to the housing authority.”
Acevedo also served as the contract specialist for the McAllen school district before working in the city of Mission’s planning department, he said.
So it’s in my blood to be a public servant, what better way to serve my community,” Acevedo said. “I am doing what I like to do, dealing with the public, engineers and developers. When this position opened up it fit with what I like to do. It’s a position to help people that will allow me to make a difference.”
Acevedo is the son of migrant workers from San Jose, California, who’d come down to the Valley in 1986 before deciding to live there permanently, Acevedo said.
That upbringing inspired Acevedo to pursue an education and give back to his community.
“I’ve always had an open door policy in all my previous jobs and will continue to do that with housing authority personnel and tenants,” Acevedo said. “I’ll make myself available from 8 a.m. through 5 p.m. 24/7. If the need ever arises for people to come to me, they’re always welcome.”
Mission Housing Authority Chairwoman Connie Garza spoke highly of Acevedo.
“Given his education and experience, we felt he would be a good fit to transition this organization forward,” Garza said. “We’re all familiar with him.”
Garza speaking highly of Acevedo signals a better working relationship with him compared to that of previous Executive Director Joel A. Gonzalez, who Garza and co-chairwoman Irma Flores-Lopez regularly quarreled with during their meetings until Gonzalez retired from the housing authority last December.
Shortly after Gonzalez stepped down from the housing authority, the board restructured and swore in three new members–Everardo Gomez Jr., Joe Louis Sanchez and Jesus Cantu- who were appointed by the board to replace outgoing board members Guadalupe “Lupe” Ozuna, Ricardo Garcia and former Chairman Romeo de la Garza. The restructuring led to Garza and Flores-Lopez being voted to serve as the new chairwoman and co-chairwoman, respectively.
Acevedo said he is familiar with those disputes.
“But I don’t get a hostile vibe from the current board,” Acevedo said. “Had I gotten one I wouldn’t have applied in the first place. I get along with everyone, I am neutral and don’t take sides so I don’t think it’d be an issue working here. I work with four different boards in the city so I know I can get along.”
Among the actions he wants to take as the new executive director is to renovate and upgrade the facilities of the housing authority, Acevedo said.
“I’m trying to make things different, for the past few decades I’ve lived here I’ve driven by the housing authority and it always looks the same,” Acevedo said. “I want to change the houses and living facilities there and make it a place where if a student lives there he’s not embarrassed to bring a friend home and look at everything. Those buildings are not new buildings, changing it should be a priority.”