Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Brooksville Housing Authority could shed negative HUD status

BROOKSVILLE — Soon enough, the Brooksville Housing Authority may finally shed its almost interminable status as a "troubled" agency.

Maybe even as soon as the end of the year.

"We're plugging away at it," said executive director Tommy Brooks. "But we're on track with that."

Indeed. Brooksville's housing agency has made substantive progress under the leadership of Brooks, according to a spokesman with the Tampa Field Office of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

That should come as little surprise, given that Brooks helped pull the Ocala Housing Authority out of troubled status during his stint as agency director from 1991 to 2000. Before he came to Brooksville, he was working as a minister at New St. John's Baptist Church in Ocala.

"Tommy Brooks had made the difference," Brooksville housing board member Cliff Manuel said. "He's been a breath of fresh air and provided a lot of leadership."

Brooks replaced Ronnie McLean, who was fired May 20 after a Department of Housing and Urban Development report was critical of his handling of inspection reports, record keeping, staffing and budgetary matters.

But the problems didn't start with McLean. Previous managers went to prison for defrauding the federal government.

The ongoing problems have prompted a strong local push to merge the city's and the county's housing authorities. Before that can happen, however, both agencies will have to escape HUD's "troubled" status.

"Until such time as both are no longer 'troubled,' HUD will not entertain a merger of the two agencies," Bill Kalbas, a spokesperson for HUD's Tampa Field Office, said in an e-mail response to questions.

Kalbas said HUD will soon issue a management review report outlining where the Brooksville authority is thus far. No specific date has been given.

Meanwhile, the Hernando agency is set to have an on-site monitoring visit from HUD officials sometime before the end of the fiscal year — Sept. 30 — to determine its progress. The county Housing Authority earned a "troubled" label in 2005 because of problems with its Section 8 Management Assessment Program.

With a merger far from certain, Brooks and the Brooksville housing board — almost completely overhauled under former Mayor David Pugh in 2007 — have been working diligently to sort through the agency's problems. Among them, according to HUD, are rent collection and identifying management and structural needs.

"The Brooksville Housing Authority continues to receive needed assistance from HUD to address the problems," Kalbas said in an e-mail.

"We're looking to get out of troubled status as soon as possible," said Housing Authority board Chairman Randy Woodruff. "When things are running smoothly, you're almost at a loss for words. Basically, it's being run the way a housing authority is supposed to be run now."

Woodruff and others say that Brooks has placed an emphasis on getting training for Housing Authority staffers and board members, something that had been lacking under McLean. In fact, one of the enduring complaints about McLean was his relative lack of experience in dealing with housing agencies.

"I don't have a lot to say about McLean," Manuel said, "but Tommy's experience with troubled housing authorities has really been of great help to us. It's been a definite plus."

McLean, who most recently lived in Spring Hill, could not be reached for comment.

Brooks credited the changes on a strong working relationship with the board members and support from city government. But, he added, lots of hard work still remains to undo years of mismanagement.

"I can't tell you that it's been all fun," Brooks said. "But it's taken a team effort to get us this far."

Board member and Housing Authority resident Yvette Taylor said the improvement has been evident in a number of ways since Brooks came to Brooksville. She said the board meetings are more orderly, rent is regularly collected on time and repairs to the buildings are made promptly.

"I believe we're moving forward, even faster than expected, especially considering what he came into," said Taylor, who lives at the Hillside Estates complex. "Keeping up with what HUD wants is demanding. But he's been on top of everything they've asked him to do."

Joel Anderson can be reached at joel or (352) 754-6120.

Brooksville Housing Authority could shed negative HUD status 07/12/09 [Last modified: Sunday, July 12, 2009 6:20pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. 5 things to know before Tampa Bay Comic Con this weekend


    Tampa Bay Comic Con returns to the Tampa Convention Center this weekend, expected to attract more than 55,000 like-minded nerds mingling with cosplayers, celebrities, artists and sellers of comic books and collectibles.

    Surrounded by the bridesmaids dressed as Disney princesses and groomsmen dressed as Marvel superheroes, Gwen Walter of Venice, Fla., kisses her husband, Shawn Walter, also of Venice, after their wedding ceremony on day two of the 2016 Tampa Bay Comic Con in the Tampa Convention Center on August 6, 2016. The pair got engaged at Megacon 2015 and were married wearing "Nightmare Before Christmas"-themed costumes. Two different couples were married in Room 24 on the second day of the Tampa Bay Comic Con 2016. ANDRES LEIVA   |   Times
  2. White House tensions catch fire with Scaramucci interviews (w/video)


    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump's new communications director exploded the smoldering tensions at the White House into a full-fledged conflagration Thursday, angrily daring Trump's chief of …

    White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci gestures as he answers a question during a press briefing in the Brady Press Briefing room of the White House in Washington on July 21, 2017. Scaramucci offered newsroom leaders a test on Thursday. They needed to decide whether to fully use the obscenities relied on by Scaramucci to describe fellow White House aides or talk around them. [Associated Press]
  3. Forecast: Drier pattern ending in Tampa Bay as front brings building rain chances throughout weekend


    The drier, hot weather pattern across Tampa Bay will remain in place Friday before rain chances start to ramp up yet again through the weekend and into next week.

    Tampa Bay's 7 day forecast. [WTSP]
  4. Police investigating death of child in Largo


    LARGO — An investigation is underway into the death of a child Thursday night at a mobile home park and a 25-year-old man has been named as a suspect, the Largo Police Department said.

  5. Goodbye, iPod Nano and iPod Shuffle: Apple kills products as music moves to phones


    SAN FRANCISCO — The iPod Nano and iPod Shuffle have played their final notes for Apple.

    An iPod, iPod Nano and iPod Shuffle are displayed at an Apple store in New York in 2015. The company discontinued sales of the iPod Nano and iPod Shuffle on Thursday, July 27, 2017, in a move reflecting the waning popularity of the devices in an era when most people store or stream their tunes on smartphones. [Associated Press]