After a summer of uncertainty following a turbulent resignation, the New Haven Housing Authority has selected a new executive director.
The city is now in contract negotiations with Jimmy Miller, former executive director of the Philadelphia-based non-profit Friends Rehabilitation Program, who will assume his new position once the contract has been finalized. Once his employment is official, Miller will replace interim Executive Director Regina Winters.
To select a new executive director, a specially appointed committee reviewed around 30 applicants. Diane Jackson, executive office manager at the Housing Authority, said the office will continue to run under Winters until the contract is signed and Miller is officially hired.
“The only thing we know for sure is that he has been approached,” she said. “As of yesterday a contract had not been signed.”
Miller, who has also served as deputy executive director of the Newark Housing Authority and implemented the New York City Housing Authority’s single family home-ownership program, will use his knowledge of practical housing maintenance to improve and expand public housing in New Haven, said William De Mayo, chairman of the Housing Authority’s Board of Commissioners.
Robert Solomon, a member of the board and a professor at Yale Law School, said he thinks Miller’s experience will benefit the operational side of the Authority by cleaning up New Haven’s public housing.
“Our weakness has always been in maintenance,” he said. “Jimmy Miller’s … got lots of great experience and a history of integrity.”
DeMayo said improving services centers, successfully maintaining the Authority’s facilities and constructing more efficient and higher quality housing will be the major upcoming challenges for Miller.
One of the first construction projects Miller will oversee will be the continuing redevelopment of the Quinnipiac Terrace, DeMayo said. The terrace is scheduled to open at the beginning of next year, Livable City Initiative representative Teresa Silla said.
Miller will be the first permanent executive director since the last director, Cynthia Newton, resigned following a scandal last spring. At the time, Newton and then-deputy director Edward Schwartz were accused of breaking into a classified online system in order to determine which buildings were scheduled for inspections. This would have allowed them to selectively improve only those buildings that were slated for upcoming inspections, De Mayo said.
Following the accusations, Schwartz was laid off, while Newton was put on suspension and eventually resigned when DeMayo threatened to leave the board.
Winters, who has put her private architectural practice on hold for the duration of her interim term, helped stabilize the Authority after the traumatic scandal, De Mayo said. He said the Authority has been making progress on its projects despite the changes in its administrative personnel.
But De Mayo said Miller’s practical expertise and experience will help the Authority focus its attention on the areas that still need to be improved.
“We want to stabilize the ship and sail forward,” he said. “I have full confidence in him.”