A. Melvin Miller, chairman, Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority, is now A. Melvin Miller, executive director, ARHA. At least until an interim director can be secured in the next several weeks.
That is the time frame Miller is counting on. "I'm hoping we can get an interim director in here as soon as possible. I'm only doing this to fill the breach," he said.
Although remaining on the ARHA Board of Commissioners, Miller has relinquished the chairmanship temporarily to vice chairman Carlyle C. "Connie" Ring, Jr., who is also serving as chair of the search committee to find the interim director. He is joined in that task by Commissioner Kerry-Ann Powell.
ARHA's long-time executive director, William Dearman, resigned on April 23. His last working day was May 18.
After 35 years in the redevelopment/housing field, 10 of those at the helm of ARHA, Dearman decided to retire. He and his wife are moving to Atlanta, Ga. to be near their daughter, son-in-law, and only grandson.
"When I began with ARHA in January 1997, my plan was to stay for six years. I have decided that it is time for me to look to the future and focus on new challenges and fresh ideas," Dearman told the ARHA Board in his letter of resignation.
This week ARHA also commenced the process of retaining a professional search consultant to find a permanent replacement for Dearman. "This will be a nationwide search and will take a lot longer than just a couple of weeks," Miller confirmed.
"We are planning an executive session meeting of the Board later this week or no later than Monday night to discuss this and other personnel matters. Hopefully, we may even be able to announce our interim director following that meeting," he said.
June 20th is the target date for selecting the search consultant, according to Miller.
WHOEVER BECOMES ARHA's interim director faces a series of challenges both in terms of funding and social engineering. Topping the challenge list is the Glebe Park Project, made more difficult recently with the denial of tax credits by the Virginia Housing Development Authority.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has threatened to foreclose on Glebe Park which has a $6 million mortgage and a monthly payment of $60,000. Its redevelopment plan has also faced opposition from area neighbors who see the proposal as no more than "warehousing" public housing units and residents.
In addition to an array of bricks and mortar problems, ARHA also faces some staffing and managerial challenges that will require significant time commitments from both the interim director and, ultimately, Dearman's permanent replacement. At this juncture, Miller was not sure if the next regular Board meeting would held in late June or early July.