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HUD official to attend JMHA meetings

October 24, 2013
By DAVE GOSSETT - Staff writer ( , The Herald-Star

STEUBENVILLE -Steubenville 1st Ward Councilman Gerald DiLoreto announced Wednesday Acting Field Office Director Ray Keyser of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Cleveland office will attend the Nov. 4 meeting involving city and Jefferson Metropolitan Housing Authority officials.

The city and JMHA officials meet twice a month to discuss concerns and issues regarding public housing properties in the city.

"I have been in touch with Keyser and have stressed the importance of staying on top of issues in our public housing units," said DiLoreto.

"Keyser has also committed to attending our JMHA commissioners meeting on Nov. 20," added DiLoreto.

DiLoreto said the Cleveland HUD office has indicated it is prepared to start checking on Section 8 housing units in the city.

And, DiLoreto said U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Marietta, will return to Steubenville in December, "for a follow-up to the meeting we had here in August.

Johnson met with city and JMHA officials as well as representatives from the Cleveland HUD office on Aug. 22 behind closed doors to discuss violent crime in public housing in the city.

"This issue has has got to be addressed. We are seeing the impact on the business community and on enrollment at the Franciscan University of Steubenville. There are very serious crimes, but I come away from today's meeting optimistic we can make a difference," Johnson said during a press conference following the private meeting at City Hall.

"We had all of the stakeholders at the table here and we came away with several things we need to collaborate on as we move forward. We agreed to hold monthly meetings of the local stakeholders, and every three months I will return to hold a meeting with the stakeholders," Johnson announced.

The meeting came 14 months after Johnson met publicly with city officials during a roundtable discussion regarding crime in public housing and Section 8 housing assistance properties.

That meeting in June 2012 lead to Johnson calling upon HUD to investigate alleged criminal activity in public housing units in Steubenville.

DiLoreto invited Johnson to return to Steubenville to discuss public housing crime issues.

The veteran city councilman has been a leading advocate to reduce the number of public housing units and Section 8 housing assistance vouchers in the city.

In other business Wednesday, JMHA Executive Director Joe Costantini reported several capital improvement projects are completed.

"The JFK rear entrance canopy and related work is now completed and the building rear entrance is back in service. All major work on the Michael Myers parking lot, patio and fence project is also completed. The new building sign still has to be installed," stated Costantini.

Costantini also said the Earl Rodgers Plaza siding, soffit, fascia and brick repair is proceeding.

"We expect that work to be completed by the end of November. We will be seeking quotes for a separate contract to restore power to existing flood light fixtures that have been out of service for a number of years. This will provide much needed security lighting and additional power for the upgraded camera system," explained Costantini.

He reported his staff is continuing to establish oversight of operations at the Washington Square Apartments.

"We are proceeding with operations improvements discussed last month including tenant identification cards, parking permits and resident meetings. Parking permits will be issued within the next couple of weeks at the Earl Rodgers Plaza. We have acquired an ID card system and expect to start issuing ID cards in November. We will also be setting resident meeting dates for November, Costantini told the JMHA board of commissioners.

Costantini said the November board meeting will be held on Nov. 20 because of the Thanksgiving holiday.

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