For the first time in more than 30 years, the East St. Louis Housing Authority is back under local control.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development took the East St. Louis Housing Authority into receivership in October 1985, citing “years of deteriorating physical conditions, financial mismanagement and a lack of effective leadership.”

Ever since then, the East St. Louis Housing Authority has been under HUD control, but on Thursday, HUD returned control of the East St. Louis Housing Authority to local authorities.

“This has been an extremely long road but we now feel confident there is the necessary capacity in place to turn the keys back over to our local partners,” HUD Secretary Ben Carson said in a statement. “Running a housing authority isn’t easy, but it requires the very best of those who manage public housing because the folks who call these units home deserve nothing less.”

The receivership of the East St. Louis Housing Authority was both the first and longest federal receivership of a local public housing authority, but it’s over now.

Under the terms of the transition agreement, East St. Louis Mayor Emeka Jackson-Hicks is tasked with appointing a five-member Board of Commissioners, while HUD will transfer ESLHA’s assets, programs and projects to local control.

According to HUD, the board will work with the ESLHA Executive Director Mildred Motley to oversee the management of more than 2,000 public housing units within the city, as the ESLHA works to improve “continuing physical and financial challenges."

As for why the time is right to turn ESLHA back over to local control, HUD said that it believes the city, ESLHA, and the agency’s board can now “responsibly” assume control of the agency’s 2,033 public housing units.

But returning the ESLHA to local control is not without some strings attached. According to HUD, the agency will work with the board on a two-year enhanced oversight plan.

As part of that agreement, HUD will task an oversight administrator and a team of specialists to provide support, manage HUD-provided technical assistance, and monitor ESLHA’s performance in addressing what HUD calls “ongoing and long-term challenges,” including:

  • Development of a long-term strategy to address the rehabilitation and/or replacement of aging developments and chronically vacant units
  • Sustain operations within its means, build its reserves and maintain long-term financial health
  • Resolution of any audit recommendations and development of strategies to effectively administer its programs
  • Utilization of its Replacement Housing Factor grant to acquire and/or redevelopment new public housing units

“Today marks a significant milestone for residents and the ongoing revitalization efforts in East St. Louis. Over the past year-and-a-half, HUD, the ESLHA, members of the Advisory Board and I have developed a great working relationship to transition the housing authority back to local control,” Jackson-Hicks said.

“I am thankful to these individuals for playing an intricate role in helping ESLHA re-establish a new governance structure for accountability and transparency. We will continue to nurture our relationship with HUD and other public and private partners as East St. Louis reaches new heights,” Jackson-Hicks added. “I am very appreciative of the outstanding residents who agreed to serve as ESLHA Board members and the city council's strong support of the new board.”

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