Townsend: Housing Authority Board Must Address “Breakdown”
By Jeff Bossert
A former board member with the Housing Authority of Champaign County says the current board and director have to explain why a now-former commissioner was never appointed to the board four years ago. Terry Townsend says he’ll launch a federal investigation.
Townsend said he hopes answers start with Thursday afternoon’s regular board meeting of the Housing Authority, begging at 3 p.m. at the HACC Administration Building on Park Ave. in Champaign.
That is where Margaret Neil, who was made authority chair last fall, said she will confront Authority Executive Director Ed Bland about the recent discovery that her appointment never happened in 2009.
Townsend called the situation ‘a complete breakdown’ and ‘an embarrassment’ for the whole community.
“I’m assuming they knew she was not appointed," he said. "And at that point, they should not have elected her chair. Now it creates a huge legal problem because the documents she signed, even if they ratify them, I suspect if they’re challenged legally, it may cause a legal problem for the housing authority.”
Townsend said those more than 200 documents include employment contracts for the authority director and its legal counsel.
Champaign County Board Chair Al Kurtz said the housing authority board and federal Department of Housing and Urban Development will likely have to find a solution regarding the contracts.
Neil said she is not mad at Bland, stating he simply forgot to send a letter notifying the Champaign County Board of her appointment.
But Neil is concerned about operations within the housing authority.
“They don’t really take resident organizations serious," she said. "So they show up because HUD mandates, but they’re really not involved in what the purpose is of what they’re supposed to do.”
Meanwhile, the Housing Authority has to fill a board seat as a result of what happened. Neil said there’s a chance she will be among the applicants.