After a housing commissioner was banned from the building, the Yazoo City Housing Authority will move to another location.
The Housing Board voted to move its management location back to its former site at Lindsey Lawn Apartments following an incident that occurred at its current location on Calhoun Avenue. Commissioner Herbert Scott Jr. cast the opposing vote, concerned that the decision was “too rash.”
Housing Board Chairman Danny Neely was banned from the Calhoun Avenue office by Betty Reed, former Housing Authority director and current director of the Gateway Corporation. Both agencies are housed inside the same office location.
Neely said he attempted to go into the office conference room when he was told “to hold on.”
“I proceeded because I don’t think employees that we hire…I don’t think we should get permission from them,” Neely said. “They are Housing Authority employees. Why do they report to (Betty) Reed when they should report to this board?”
Alpresteon Billings, current executive director of the Housing Authority, said other commissioners have access to the building. But she admitted that Reed banned Neely from the location.
“We have Housing Authority employees in there,” Neely said. “Therefore, we feel that with Housing Authority employees we should be able to come into that building without any authorization, in particular for commissioners. On that note, I would like to make a motion that the Housing Authority and their entire Housing Authority staff and equipment be transferred back to Lindsey Lawn Apartments.”
The Calhoun Avenue office building was donated to the Gateway Corporation by Atmos Energy. Gateway renovated the building, and the Housing Authority moved its management to the office as well.
But Billings told the commissioners that the move would involve a long process.
“Even though you just made the motion to come back here, there is a process,” she said. “We just can’t just go get a U-Haul and bring the property back to Lindsey Lawn.”
Billings said a request must be made to Housing and Urban Development, citing a reason for the move. In fact, Billings said the move into the Calhoun Avenue location took eight to nine months.
Billings also added that the move would affect the Housing Authority financially.
“It is going to cost us thousands of dollars to move back over here,” she said. “We have no phones, no fax line. We run off digital system now. All our servers are built over there. I will start the process, but it is going to cost us some money.”
Scott asked if the order given for permission to enter the building was permanent.
“Our staff is there, but an order has been given that we are not to enter the building,” Scott asked.
“Anyone has access to the building,” Billings replied. “But there was an incident that happened Friday. Reed contacted Neely and asked him to be banned from the building. I think in my opinion, there needs to be some communication.”
“Just answer the question,” Neely said.
Billings said she did not believe the building restriction was a permanent thing.
Although Billings said she was not in the building at the time of the incident that prompted this issue, she said she did bring statements for the board.
“Even though at the board meetings I act as secretary and treasurer, I am still executive director of this agency,” Billings said. “It is my job to actually advise the board about what transpired, even with staff and day to day management…”
“We didn’t ask that,” Neely said.
“There are missing pieces, and I think the board should have an opportunity…” Billings replied.
“I am asking you to act as secretary of this meeting and take the mins,” Neely said.
Scott said he would like to examine the exact costs associated with such a move.
“I just don’t want us to make a rash decision too early,” Scott said.
Neely said there is no way that a Housing commissioner should be banned from the Calhoun Avenue location.
“I will not tolerate that when all our staff is over there,” Neely said. “But the door is still open to Reed to talk.”
The motion to relocate the Housing offices was approved with Scott in opposition.