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Vouchers set for Brooksville Section 8 move

Jeff Schmucker Hernando Today
Published:   |   Updated: May 7, 2013 at 05:19 PM

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Federal housing authorities have approved vouchers for at least some of the residents of two city-owned Section 8 housing developments.

Now those residents have to go through the county's housing authority — rather than the city of Brooksville's — to find alternative living arrangements.

Randy Woodruff, who chairs the Brooksville Housing Authority board, said the Department of Housing and Urban Development approved 65 vouchers for residents of Hillside Estates and Summit Villa to apply for between now and Sept. 30. He said he expects more to be available after that date and at the official start of the next fiscal year.

But residents are to begin working with the Hernando County Housing Authority to be approved for those vouchers, he said.

"Brooksville Housing Authority residents will now become residents of the Hernando County Housing Authority," Woodruff said. "That process is going on as we speak."

He added that he is unsure how long the process will take to find residents proper housing, due to some having medical and other needs.

Once residents have emptied the 126 housing units, he said city housing authority board members will then shift focus to deciding the fate of Hillside Estate and Summit Villa. It's still unknown whether the properties will be demolished or if they will be sold.

"I see us moving on that very quickly," Woodruff said, "because those buildings are old and costly to repair. With no one living in there, they'll go bad pretty quick."

Once the fate of those properties is determined, Woodruff said the Brooksville Housing Authority would be disbanded. Employees have already been notified that their jobs would be eliminated and are being encouraged to find other employment — including with the county housing authority.

City housing board members have not taken an official vote to disband. However, it's been a known goal since many of them were appointed and took on efforts to bring the housing authority out of "troubled" status after previous leadership came under criminal investigation and the authority was in financial disarray.

The group earned the status after one housing director's firing in light of numerous deficiencies found in the two Section 8 complexes. Before that, former executive director Betty Trent and former project manager Joe Ann Bennett were charged with stealing more than $40,000 from the authority.

In November, the group was taken out of "troubled" status, meaning that HUD would no longer have to scrutinize the authority's budget.

Meanwhile, Woodruff said he is optimistic that all residents can be found new homes by December or early 2013. (352) 544-5271

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