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New Interim CHA director presents 12-month plan focusing on resident services, transparency, and accountability

Updated: Jul. 5, 2019 at 1:33 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The Columbia Housing Authority begins to take its next steps into a new era after its new interim executive director laid out a 12-month action plan for the agency in front of its board of directors Friday morning.

It was nearly seven months ago when two men were found dead at Allen Benedict Court apartments. The men were killed due to carbon monoxide poisoning. One day later, the apartment complex was shut down, leaving hundreds of people scrambling to find a new home.

Just over a month later, executive director of Columbia Housing Authority, Gilbert Walker announced his retirement.

On Friday, the next leader of the CHA oversaw her first meeting, outlining her action plan.

Ivory Mathews began her role on July 1. Major themes of her 12-month plan included improving service delivery to residents, creating a climate of transparency and accountability, maximizing organizational efficiencies, and increasing community confidence.

“Some of the immediate changes that they will begin to see is our ability to respond to them,” Mathews said. “I know how important this work is. I know that it changes the interjectory of people’s lives and so, for me, it’s more than just getting a paycheck. It’s something that I’m passionate about.”

During the meeting, Mathews outlined by the quarter how her plan would work over the next year beginning with in-depth assessments of governance, resident services, a housing choice voucher program, a public housing program, human resources management, marketing, branding, public relations and development, and capital planning.

In the news conference held after the meeting, Mathews said her plan to gain the residents’ trust is by doing the work.

“People believe what you give them. So, if I’m going to give you exactly what I’m saying, then people will begin to start believing that and trusting that you mean what you say and you really care.” Mathews said.

Mathews wants people living in CHA housing to know, if you call this agency, they will make it a priority to answer your needs. She touched on how she wants people to have a voice, along with increasing self-sufficiency among residents.

“I tried to listen for anything that might have been missing but her action plan is very comprehensive,” said Lance Folsom, a HUD retiree said after attending Friday’s meeting. “Hopefully, the number one concern will be health and safety of the residents and bringing in responsible people involving the residents in the community. So, if I had to draw a plan, I couldn’t do any better than she did and I don’t think anybody else could.

“This lady knows her business. She’s got a good vision for the housing authority and she wants to make sure that the community is behind the housing authority no more than just operating in a vacuum.”

Mathews recently served as the executive director at the Greenville (SC) Housing Authority. While there, she met and exceeded performance goals similar to the goals outlined in her current plan for CHA.

WATCH LIVE: New CHA Director, Ivory Matthews to unveil 12-month action plan to CHA board

Posted by WIS TV on Friday, July 5, 2019

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