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Housing authority under scrutiny

by Jessie Burchette
jburchette@salisburypost.com
The firing of four Rowan County Housing Authority employees and allegations of bid rigging have sparked concerns of top county officials.
Carl Ford, chairman of the Rowan County Board of Commissioners, said Thursday he is asking the Rowan County Housing Authority Board to hold a special meeting to look into the multiple issues and allegations.
“We want to see if they can handle it. We may have to have a joint meeting,” Ford said.
Eric Beaver, chairman of the Housing Authority Board, said he isn’t aware of any problems. “We just finished our audit and didn’t have any problems,” he said. Beaver added the local housing unit got a 100 percent score from the federal Housing and Urban Development agency.
And Beaver said all contracts that are awarded are through the competitive bidding process.
Four Housing Authority employees ó Paula L. Hoffman, Carleen White, Jean Bostian and Barbara Walser ó were fired during the past few weeks. All apparently worked in the Section 8 housing program, which provides subsidies for low income individuals and elderly.
One or more of those employees have talked to county commissioners, alleging wrongdoings by Sara Potts, the executive director.
In a letter to commissioners dated July 14 and signed by the four employees, they claim they were fired after notifying the Housing Authority board of wrongdoing by Potts.
Efforts by the Post to get a comment from Potts were unsuccessful.
Ford said commissioners and county officials are taking the allegations seriously. “The allegations are more than frivolous,” Ford said, adding that he couldn’t say more on advice of County Attorney Jay Dees.
County Manager Gary Page and Dees are involved in discussing the issues.
Ford said if the Housing Authority Board can’t resolve the issues, the only option the county has is to replace the Housing Authority board.
While the five-member Housing Authority Board is appointed by commissioners, it’s controlled by the state and uses millions of dollars of federal money.
Beaver said four employees have been fired but that was handled by Potts and Jeremy Carter, Housing Authority attorney.
“It was nothing personal, the board liked the employees. It was other issues,” Beaver said.
“We had serious legal issues brought to our attention. We were kept abreast of the situation,” Beaver said.
In addition to Beaver, other board members include Tracy A. Asbury-Thomas, Luther Gene Beaver Jr., Mac Butner and Owen Miles.

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