Mobile Housing Board

Despite plans for multimillion-dollar redevelopment projects, the Mobile Housing Board of Commissioners has been beset by financial shortcomings and dilapidating infrastructure. From reprimands from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and a lawsuit from former employees to the recent resignations of a longtime commissioner and executive director, the board has continued with plans to update its affordable housing stock.
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Mobile Housing Board

Mobile Housing Board receives ‘substandard’ designation; $439 million plan revealed

The Mobile Housing Board’s failing score on a recent federal assessment is a reflection of a large number of vacant units, not shortcomings in management or other issues, according to Dwayne Vaughn, the board’s executive director. Nevertheless, in a letter to Board Chairman Clarence Ball dated March 17, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development designated the board “Substandard Management” and ordered it to “take immediate action to identify the sources of the performance deficiencies and develop and implement a plan to recover its [assessment] score and ensure long-term sustainability at an acceptable level of performance.” For the fiscal year ending Dec. 31, 2012, the board received an overall Public Housing Assessment System (PHAS) score of 63 out of 100, a combination of indicators from its physical facilities, its finances, its management and its capital fund.    In the letter, HUD acknowledges that generally, when a public housing agency becomes management substandard, it has failed to maintain an acceptable occupancy level in its developments. But HUD also warns that without an adequate response, it has the authority to initiate its own improvement plan, effectively becoming the day-to-day operator of the housing board. “The system is weighted heavily toward full occupancy,” Vaughn said, explaining that Mobile’s score was skewed negatively by a complete vacancy at the 292-unit Josephine Allen development and a partial vacancy at the 452-unit Roger Williams...

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Our leaders have failed

To the editor: The Mobile Housing Authority receives millions of dollars each year from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to provide safe, decent, and affordable housing to moderate and low-income families. The Mobile Housing Authority and Mobile’s African American politicians representing our community have failed miserably. Please notice the substandard living conditions of the Roger Williams Housing Development. Would you want your children, parents, grandparents, etc. living in such squalor? Only African Americans live in that development. It should have been torn down years ago. This is located between St. Stephens Road and Martin Luther King Avenue, in the “heart” of the African American community in Mobile. The living conditions are substandard, poor and shameful. Who is the City Council representative? Who is the Mobile County Commissioner for this area? Who is the House Representative? Who is the Mobile Housing Board Director and who are the Housing Board Members? Who is the Alabama House Representative for this area? Who is the State Senator for this area? Should any attention be given to this area by our elected officials/leaders?  Mobile’s African American community has been neglected for so long by our elected representatives, we don’t know how to demand adequate representation for our votes. We vote based on non-objective reasoning and are further left behind. (FYI, my five years on the Board of Director’s of Prichard Housing...

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Jones’ Housing Board appointments could make changes tough

Though former Mayor Sam Jones ran up against the political rocks while trying to reappoint members to the Industrial Development Board before he left office, he did not have similar problems re-upping the terms of three Mobile Housing Board commissioners last summer before he left the 10th floor of Government Plaza. Because state law says the mayor alone appoints members to the Housing Board, Jones was able to essentially keep the current members in control of the area’s public housing until August of 2016. The move effectively blocked new-mayor Sandy Stimpson from choosing any of his own additions to the board until next August, and Stimpson appointees would not have a majority on the board until August 2016, should he choose to replace current members. Jones’ reappointments might not raise any eyebrows if they had come as each commissioner’s five-year term expired. But during his eight years in office, according to records from the Mobile City Clerk’s Office, Jones only made reappointments once before this past summer, and not as each individual term expired. Board terms are for five years and are staggered so they expire at different times. At various times during Jones’ term in office, each of the five Housing Board members’ terms expired, often for many years, according to City Clerk’s records. One spot on the board also remained vacant for more than a year until...

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Employee numbers at Mobile Housing Board subsidiary explode despite money losing year

According to financial records provided to the IRS by Mobile Development Enterprises, the non-profit subsidiary of the Mobile Housing Board was more than $500,000 in the red in 2011 even as its number of employees exploded by 300 percent. Those records and others also appear to show that as MDE’s ranks have grown, the Housing Board itself has seen a drastic reduction in the amount of employees still working under the oversight of the Mobile County Personnel Board. MDE was incorporated as a non-profit in 2003 by then-Mobile Housing Board Executive Director Stevens Gregory. Housing Board Chairman Clarence Ball and Vice-Chairman Donald Langham also were listed on the MDE board of directors and remain there today, according to Mobile County Probate Court records. The Housing Board also incorporated a for-profit version of MDE in 1997 that remains active as well. MDE’s articles of incorporation were updated in 2010 to replace Gregory with current MHB Executive Director Dwayne Vaughn. Vaughn has described MDE as doing primarily construction management. It was active in working the first phases of the HOPE VI revitalization program that built the Orange Grove and Renaissance developments north of downtown. MDE had its tax-exempt status yanked by the IRS in May 2010 for failing to file its 990 financial forms for three straight years. Vaughn says the 501(c)3 had that tax-exempt status restored a couple of months...

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Employment seesawed between housing board, subsidiary

Records supplied by the Mobile County Personnel Board show the number of merit system employees at the Mobile Housing Board has decreased by 25 since 2009 even as the number of employees at MHB’s non-profit subsidiary are significantly higher than they were even in 2010. Mobile Personnel Board Director Donald Dees provided a breakdown of MHB’s employee totals for the past four years showing the number dropping — particularly over the past two years. According to the numbers provided, in 2009 MHB had 155 employees and 158 in 2010, but that number dropped to 141 in 2011 and 130 at the end of last year for a 16 percent decrease since the end of 2009. The Housing Board lists its number of employees at 220 on its website, although it is not known when the total was that high and it is clear the site has not been updated in some time. MHB Executive Director Dwayne Vaughn wrote in an email that the decline in Housing Board employment numbers is directly related to a decrease in federal funding as well as normal attrition. “To our knowledge, most agencies dependent on Federal funds in recent years have seen some contraction due to the historically low funding levels, federal sequestration and an emphasis at the Federal, state and local level of ‘doing more with less,’” Vaughn wrote. “In addition, MHB has...

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Mobile Development Enterprises never filed required forms, was cited by HUD

A non-profit company set up by the Mobile Housing Board has never filed any of the annual financial disclosure forms required by law during its 10 years of existence, according to its director, and is refusing to release information that would already be public had those forms been filed. Mobile Development Enterprises was formed in 2003, according to both state and county records, as a tax-exempt company. It appears they first filed for tax-exempt status three years later and would have been required to file a 990 Form with the IRS each year since detailing financial information and answering questions about the structure of the organization. MDE lost its tax-exempt status in May 2010, however, for not filing its 990s for three consecutive years. It turns out that most basic requirement was never met. “It seems that no Form 990 was filed prior to the date of the auto-revocation,” MDE Executive Director Dwayne Vaughn said last week. Vaughn has said MDE was told by the IRS it did not need to file annual 990 forms, but neither MDE nor the Housing Board have letters from the IRS verifying that. He said MDE sent a form to the IRS along with a check for $100 and that check was cashed, which he says serves as the only record of evidence MDE was ever exempted from the filing rules. Vaughn says...

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Housing Board subsidiary had tax-exempt status revoked in 2010

A non-profit organization being run as a subsidiary of the Mobile Housing Board had its tax-exempt status revoked more than two years ago for failure to file required forms for three consecutive years, according to the Internal Revenue Service. Mobile Development Enterprises, had its tax exempt status revoked in May 2010 for failure to file a Form 990-series return for three consecutive years, according to an IRS website. A call to the IRS confirmed MDE’s tax exempt status remains revoked at this time. MDE was incorporated as a non-profit corporation in 2003 by then-Mobile Housing Board Executive Director Stevens Gregory, according to Mobile County Probate Court records. Housing Board Chairman Clarence Ball and Vice-Chairman Donald Langham also were listed on the MDE board of directors. The Housing Board also incorporated a for-profit version of MDE in 1997 that remains active. MDE’s articles of incorporation were updated in 2010 to replace Gregory with new Housing Board Director Dwayne Vaughn, according to probate records. On the Alabama Secretary of State’s website, there are two versions of MDE listed. Mobile Development Enterprises is listed as a non-profit corporation, with Vaughn as the registered agent. Also listed is Mobile Development Enterprises, Inc., a domestic corporation with Vaughn listed as the agent. The issue of MDE’s relationship with the Housing Board has recently come to the fore as its vice president for Business and...

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