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November 17, 2021 Regular Board Meeting Minutes

I. Regular Meeting
Chairman James Cloar called the regular meeting of the Tampa Housing Authority Board of Commissioners to order at 8:33 a.m. Other Board members present were Lorena Hardwick, Parker Homans, Bemetra Salter Liggins and legal counsel Ricardo Gilmore. Commissioner Sul Hemani arrived after roll call and although Commissioner Ben Dachepalli was online, he was not available during roll call and during approval of the minutes he was disconnected. Commissioner Billi Johnson-Griffin participated virtually after roll call. Commissioner Salter Liggins left the meeting before the resolutions were presented.  

The Chair began by asking everyone for a moment of silent prayer and/or personal meditation; those in attendance were also asked to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance; recital of the agency's mission statement followed.  

II. Minutes
A motion to approve the Minutes of the regular Board meeting of August 18, 2021 was made by Commissioner Homans and seconded by Commissioner Hemani: 

Commissioner Hardwick - Present
Commissioner Cloar - Yes
Commissioner Homans - Yes
Commissioner Salter Liggins - Present
Commissioner Hemani - Yes  

III. Public Forum (3 minutes limit allotted per speaker)
Ms. Arlene Frances Washington, 76 years old, was the first to speak from a list of residents from River Pines. She stated that she had roaches and was allergic to them, she also had mold that made her very sick. She added that the previous Monday she was provided with a new Air Conditioner and complained about the person that installed the unit, due to his attire. She complained about how she was treated by a person from the Property Manager's office that was present during the AC unit installation. 

Mr. Ralph Burton had some of the same complaints regarding roaches, adding that his windows did not work. Mr. Burton also complained about management mistreatment. 

Ms. Loretha Bartlet stated that her windows never open, she did not have a fire alarm, she had never had her AC unit cleaned, she had water coming from her faucet, she had the roaches under control herself, and she also had issues with mistreatment by management.

Mr. Joseph White was a retired veteran, he had a flood in his apartment and now has a sink pulling away from the wall. Recently he was ill and had his daughter live with him, she was told he was not supposed to live there. 

Ms. Debbie Malone stated that her main issue was that she had roaches, she also has water leaks, a window that does not work. She claimed that the service to the AC units involved rinsing the units with a hose they put it back. Ms. Malone also claimed that the 100% inspection by and independent company had not taken place. The meeting with THA has not taken place. Inspection of the outside of the building she lives in has not taken place. The Fire Marshall was supposed to talk to residents regarding sitting outside, which management does not allow. Her windows have not been fixed. Cleaning of the outside premises was supposed to take place recently and did not. She stated that at a recent meeting with residents they were provided with a phone number to call for workorders that does not work.  

Ms. Martha Whyte spoke via a recorded video, she had some of the same complaints that included her AC unit not working and management mistreatment. 

Registered speakers that were not available to speak included Sally Mungo, America Lebron, Frederick Larry, Jimmie Davis, Kennedy Watson, and Juanita Lilly. 

Attorney Ricardo Gilmore reiterated to the speakers and everyone else that the agency had a process, the Commissioners do not address the issues that are brought to the Board in this meeting. The current process is that whenever concerns are brought to the Board, these will be addressed in writing to the speakers and will go into the Board information packet with whatever responses from management. The attorney assured speakers that just because a response is not heard today from the Board, did not mean that Board members do not have concern and did not hear what was said, he thanked everyone for their time.

IV. Public Response to July Board Meeting Public Forum
Sr. Asset Manager, Mr. Luis Blondin stated that the Asset Management Department was very concerned regarding the issues at River Pines. The Director of Asset Management, Mr. Lorenzo Bryant, and Mr. Blondin himself, personally inspected all inquired units and addressed the Board on what was discovered. Eight residents reported mold and mildew in their AC units. Recently, on August 3rd, a contracted independent licensed company evaluated the AC units. In accordance with protocol, every unit was removed, cleaned, and inspected for mold and mildew, for which no signs were found as indicated in the report by the inspection technician. The report can be made available to Commissioners upon request.

Mr. Blondin also stated that there were concerns about Ms. Washington's claims regarding roaches and mold. Her unit was inspected by both Mr. Bryant and Mr. Blondin several times and determined there were no signs of moisture nor roach infestation. Pictures were taken of two dead roaches found under Ms. Washington's refrigerator, in a bait trap placed by the pest control company. A third-party company, CGI, conducted an inspection on August 6th and their comments indicated there were no roaches, no mold detected; the report/card was initialed by Ms. Washington at the time of the inspection. Although, Ms. Washington's AC unit was only 10 months old, it was removed, cleaned, reinstalled, and inspected as were the rest of the AC units. Additionally, on October 18th, Ms. Washington had a new AC unit installed. 

A resident call meeting took place on October 5th to express concerns; more meetings will be scheduled moving forward. Regarding in-person meetings, an outdoor meeting was scheduled for the first week of December; future meetings will be scheduled quarterly. Asset Management staff will be present at every meeting, said Mr. Blondin.

A new method of service requests to improve customer satisfaction was implemented by the property management company, for which its owner, Mr. Ken Stephenson was asked to speak on further. 

As of September 15th, the management company conducted a complete unit inspection on 294 of 300 apartment units at the River Pines property. There were six residents that did not allow access to their apartment units. Findings indicated 15 units had roach activity, 5%, units were treated in July, August, and September. There were 12 units, 4%, with poor housekeeping issues and 1 unit, .3%, had moisture issues. There were also 10 units with maintenance issues not reported to management. THA hired an independent company to conduct these inspections. After several inspections or the units inquired, there were no health and safety issues and no neglect by the management company. Mr. Blondin stated that to reduce humidity, roach infestation, and repairs, residents should run AC units as stated on the lease addendums, allow pest control company to treat the units and allow maintenance to access the units. 

River Pines property management company President, Mr. Ken Stephenson of Stephenson and Moore spoke regarding service order implementation and what was being done to improve communication between property management and residents. 

At the request of Commissioner Hardwick, Mr. Blondin was asked to consider having the pest control company spray outside the units/property at River Pines.  

V. Employees of the Month

  • Administration - David Hollis 

VI. Special Recognition (Geraldine Barnes Award)

  • Recipient - Maria Wispe

VII. Resolutions
Construction Manager, Ms. Yasmin Dilbert presented resolution 2021-4203 for the Director of Real Estate Development, Mr. David Iloanya.  

  • 2021-4203 David Iloanya: A resolution authorizing the President/CEO of the Housing Authority of the City of Tampa, Florida to award non-exclusive easement across, under, over as necessary for the routing, installation, maintenance, improvement service operation and including wiring within and through the premises used in the provision of such service. 

A motion was made by Commissioner Hardwick and seconded by Commissioner Hemani: 

Commissioner Hardwick - Yes
Commissioner Cloar - Yes
Commissioner Homans - Yes
Commissioner Johnson-Griffin - Yes
Commissioner Hemani - Yes

The Sr. VP/COO, Mr. Leroy Moore presented resolutions 2021-4204 and 2021-4205.

  • 2021-4204 Leroy Moore: Resolutions approving the Belmont Heights Estates equity, construction, permanent loans, and rental assistance demonstration closings.  

A motion was made by Commissioner Hemani and seconded by Commissioner Johnson-Griffin: 

Commissioner Hardwick - Yes
Commissioner Cloar - Yes
Commissioner Homans - Yes
Commissioner Johnson-Griffin - Yes
Commissioner Hemani - Yes

  • 2021-4205 Leroy Moore: Resolutions approving Mary Bethune Highrise permanent loan closing.

A motion was made by Commissioner Hardwick and seconded by Commissioner Homans: 

Commissioner Hardwick - Yes
Commissioner Cloar - Yes
Commissioner Homans - Yes
Commissioner Johnson-Griffin - Yes
Commissioner Hemani - Yes

The Director of Assisted Housing, Ms. Margaret Jones presented resolution 2021-4206.

  • 2021-4206 Margaret Jones: A resolution approving the revised Utility Allowance schedule for use in the Housing Choice Voucher Program and other related rental assistance programs.

A motion was made by Commissioner Homans and seconded by Commissioner Hardwick: 

Commissioner Hardwick - Yes
Commissioner Cloar - Yes
Commissioner Homans - Yes
Commissioner Johnson-Griffin - Yes
Commissioner Hemani - Yes

VIII. President/CEO's Report

Finance and Related Entities
The Sr. VP/CFO, Ms. Susi Begazo-McGourty reported briefly, highlighting the HCV Cares Act funding, THA received $3.4 million. She added that all items in the budget had been achieved before the disbursement deadline of December 2021. The CFO also highlighted the $425,000 investment to the River Pines, mentioned earlier during this meeting. River Pines was one of three properties of Meridian River Development Corporation. 

As the best performer at Encore, the Tempo's net income after non-operating expenses was also highlighted in the CFO's report, currently at $678,184 compared to the Ella, the Trio, and the Reed at Encore. 

Operations and Real Estate Development
The Sr. VP/COO, Mr. Leroy Moore began his report with Encore, construction was taking place on the two private lots, one of those being the Legacy building, which had recently started leasing. 

As requested by THA, the City of Tampa's parking enforcement had designated all on-street parking at Encore as two-hour parking, to avoid overnight parking and people parking there then walking to work. The COO cautioned to be careful parking on Central Avenue next to the park, as that parking was technically assigned to park patrons. There were also discussions to have Encore be part of the Special Services District. 

Lot 12 at Encore was still under design, currently in design review at the City of Tampa with several months away from the bidding process for construction. There was still no grocer tenant for the grocery store yet, although the grocer was part of the design. Discussions continued with a particular grocer for several months, with no commitment yet.  

With the approval of resolution 2021-4205, Bethune Apartments will be the second stabilized permanent financing at West River, the Renaissance was the first. 

Towers 1, 2 and 3 continued leasing, as people continued moving in. Tower 4 was still under construction at four or five stories high.  

North of the Bethune Apartments building were 30 units of 3-story rental flats over townhomes designed to look like ownership housing. 

The grocer at West River was still under contract, moving towards closing as well as the townhomes and the marketrate units, all part of West River. 

For the first time, Mr. Moore updated Board member on the Rome Yard, a partnership with the Related Group for the 18-acre City of Tampa Water Department parcel, immediately north of West River. The first of two or three public engagement meetings was on the 13th of October, with approximately 100 people in attendance and about 30 to 40 people online. The COO encouraged everyone to go to for updates on the project as well as future meetings. 

The Robles Park Village received qualification-based proposals for developer partners, there were six responses. A 7-member evaluation committee consisting of three Robles Park residents and four THA staff members will begin reviewing proposals. In the next month or two, the COO hoped to bring to the Board, requests for approval to engage in negotiations for both vertical developer partner and one master developer partner for the Robles Park Village redevelopment. 

Informational virtual meetings with Robles Park residents continued, every other Thursday with consistent 40 to 60 people participation. The meetings included a survey tool to collect feedback regarding things like relocation options, such as the pros and cons of single-phase verses multi-phase relocation. 

The Director of Human Resources, Mr. Kenneth Christie updated Board members regarding employee turnover nationwide because of the pandemic and how those statistics compare to THA. Other updates included THA's meritbased bonus, executive staff training, Breast Cancer Awareness, Hispanic Heritage month and COVID Booster Shots. 

The Director of Assisted Housing, Ms. Margaret Jones updated Board members regarding the opening of the waitlist. The opening took place from the 4th to the 8th of October, resulting in approximately 18,000 successful applications of which 3,000 were pulled through a lottery system and will be assisted in the next 2 to 3 years.   

IX. Notices and Updates
The Director of Community Affairs, Ms. Lillian Stringer informed Commissioners regarding the passing of two members of the THA family. Mr. Clinton Mollins was a resident of the Bethune Hi-Rise and Bethune Apartments and Mr. Ray Michael Snell, a former Pittsburgh Steeler, Detroit Lions, a Tampa Bay Buccaneer, and for 20 years he served as a maintenance supervisor at THA then as a part of the Department of Real Estate Development. 

Ms. Stringer also showed a video of the Boulevards at West River grand opening for which Commissioner Dachepalli served as master of ceremonies. 

X. Legal Matters
Attorney Ricardo Gilmore thanked THA staff for hosting Board members of the Sanford Housing Authority and select staff and City Commissioner of the Orlando Housing Authority for almost a full day. 

Chairman Cloar referred to the Tampa Bay Business Journal and the Tampa Bay Times, the newspapers announced the International Downtown Association Conference in Tampa, during the week of October 18th, featuring a tour of Encore, scheduled for the 21st of October.

XI. Unfinished Business

  • None to come before this forum.

XII. New Business

  • None to come before this forum.

XIII. Adjournment
There being no further business to come before this Board, the Chair declared this meeting of the THA Board of Commissioners adjourned at 10:19 a.m. 

Approved this 17th day of November 2021.