Mission Housing Authority expanding board

In an effort to better represent all of the tenants it serves, the Mission Housing Authority board of directors will expand from five to seven members.

The Mission Housing Authority board met last week and discussed the change that will allow the board to have two resident directors serving the agency.

According to MHA legal counsel Marissa Hernandez, state law requires housing agencies to have at least one resident commissioner serving to better represent the tenants.

“And if it’s a seven commissioner board, then they need two resident directors,” Hernandez explained. “The board wanted more tenant representation, currently we have only one tenant commissioner and the expansion to seven would allow for a second resident from Section 8 housing so those tenants could be better represented.”

The Mission Housing Authority serves around 1,000 tenants, 770 of which belong to Section 8 housing, housing where residents receive vouchers to pay most of their rent. However, according to commissioner Irma Flores-Lopez, all previous MHA resident commissioners have been from public housing- where tenants pay rent based upon an income percentage formula.

Jesse Cantu currently serves as the resident commissioner and is from the public housing program.

“Section 8 tenants have never been represented on the board despite making a larger number of our tenants. They’ll have a voice and be included in the board,” Flores-Lopez said.

Hernandez added that two new board directors will be appointed by Mission Mayor Armando O’cana following the January city council meeting.

At the same meeting, board directors appointed Arnold Padilla to serve as the interim executive director effective Monday, Dec. 21.

Padilla’s start date is a few weeks before current MHA Executive Director Jaime Acevedo will step down from the position at the end of the month. Acevedo announced two weeks ago he was resigning from the agency to spend time with his family.

Acevedo had previously agreed to assist in the transition process with the interim executive director. The agency has advertised his position and are expected to select a permanent executive director next month.

Padilla has 20 years of experience working as the executive director for the San Benito and McAllen housing authorities and has worked with the MHA as a consultant for a few of their projects, MHA chairwoman Connie Garza said.

“It was a unanimous decision, evidently we’re very comfortable with him in this role,” Garza said of Padilla’s appointment. “He is the right fit and has the experience and expertise for this transition period.”

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