Housing Authority board removes director

Published 9:53 pm Friday, August 30, 2019

FRHA has been experiencing significant financial issues


Philip Page Jr., who has served since 2011 as executive director of the Franklin Redevelopment and Housing Authority, is no longer an employee of the FRHA as of Wednesday.

Philip Page Jr.

Franklin Councilman Linwood Johnson, who serves as one of two council liaisons on the FRHA Board, confirmed that this was the outcome of this week’s FRHA Board meeting.

“He was let go,” Johnson said, explaining that Page had told Board members verbally that he was resigning, but had provided no letter of resignation.

Following Page’s offer to resign, Johnson said the board “decided to separate” from Page “and move forward.”

The councilman also confirmed that the FRHA is experiencing significant financial issues, and that there is an investigation being conducted into the authority’s finances. Specifically, he said, there had been more than one incident this year where the power and phone service at the FRHA’s administrative offices had been disconnected for non-payment of bills. Johnson added that housing authority employees went without pay on Friday.

The FRHA, he explained, receives its funding from state and federal money, as well as the rent it collects from tenants.

No residents of the FRHA’s three housing complexes experienced power cutoffs as a result of the FRHA’s non-payment of bills, the councilman confirmed.

Cheryl Vincent, who serves as chairwoman of the FRHA Board, was unable to be reached for comments as of press time on Friday. Vice Chairwoman Keisha Saunders, whom Franklin’s City Council appointed to the FRHA board on July 22, declined to comment on the situation other than to confirm that Page was in fact no longer with the FRHA. Though The Tidewater News made multiple attempts to contact Page for comments, the former executive director was unable to be reached as of press time.

Asked when the FRHA Board was first made aware of the housing authority’s financial difficulties, Johnson said that the longest anyone on current board has served, including himself and fellow City Council liaison Greg McLemore, is since June. The power cutoffs, he said, occurred prior to him and the rest of the new board members beginning their terms.

City Council, on the other hand, had known of the FRHA’s financial situation since the power cutoff incidents first started to occur, Johnson said. The city, he explained, has no oversight or authority over the housing authority other than its role in appointing board members. Johnson added that the city’s charter allows two members of Council to be appointed to the authority, but said that this was not mandatory and that the Council had not exercised this option prior to 2019 for several years.

As for the future, Johnson said that the FRHA Board is “adamant about moving the housing authority forward” and that it hopes to have a new executive director in place “very soon.” He added that the FRHA’s search for a new executive director will include looking “internally and externally” for candidates.

“Whatever problems and issues we may have, we are addressing those to move forward and to get things moving smoothly,” Johnson said. “We have dedicated board members and the workers and employees are dedicated. We want to do everything possible to make sure nothing like this ever happens again.”

City Manager Amanda Jarratt, when asked for comments on the situation, confirmed, as Johnson had said, that the city is not responsible for the day-to-day operations of the FRHA.

“But we certainly are concerned about the residents [in FRHA housing], and the employees,” Jarratt said. “We’ll do our best to be supportive as possible.”