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Stark Housing Authority re-opens process to find executive director



Dan McMasters

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CANTON — Two months after it initiated a search for a new executive director, the Stark Metropolitan Housing Authority will start over.

The first go around attracted a lot of interest, as 40 candidates applied for the job by the mid-May deadline. The dilemma came to light after the board of commissioners’ two-member committee had considered and interviewed 10 of those applicants by video conference.

“We were looking for the ideal candidate,” said Dan McMasters, who along with fellow board member Jeff McDaniels, is handling the search. “And I don’t know if that person exists.”  

Leaving Canton:Stark Metropolitan Housing Authority director lands Akron job

Earlier this week, The Repository asked for copies of resumes for the 10 who were interviewed. Interim Executive Director Jeff Patterson, the agency’s finance director, said that request was forwarded to a Cleveland law firm the Housing Authority contracts with for review.

Herman Hill, Stark’s executive director for the past nine years, left the agency at the end of April. He took the same position with the similar but larger Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority.

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Herman Hill

Stark Metropolitan Housing Authority sets new deadline for job

The initial deadline to apply for his open post was May 16. However, the Housing Authority is now advertising the position again on assorted websites, including its own,  with a deadline of July 11. The committee also plans to recruit potential candidates from other housing agencies in Ohio.

“We are not going to settle,” McMasters said.

He pointed out that the Housing Authority is akin to a multimillion dollar company. It has more than 130 employees and operates on an annual budget of $34 million.

In addition, he said the new leader will need a firm grasp on agency funding mechanisms, such as the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, as well as public-private partnership deals underway to renovate McKinley Park Apartments and improve Cherrie Turner Towers.

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“We’re not looking for a temporary fill. … We want someone who’s going to live in the community and become a part of the community,” McMasters said.

When Hill resigned, his salary was $154,295 a year. The salary of his successor will be negotiated, McMasters said. Some online postings for the position included a range that topped out at $129,000.

And the new solicitation for applicants no longer includes the requirement of a master’s degree for the job.

The Stark Housing Authority oversees 2,435 family, high rise, and scattered site public housing units, and administers 1,779 housing choice vouchers, most of them through the program commonly known as Section 8.

Public housing, customers, business 

McMasters said he and others had selected and interviewed eight residents, to ask them about their housing experiences; their concerns and worries; and suggestions they may have.

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He said the process was enlightening and fruitful, adding it likely will become an ongoing initiative.

“They are our customers; we need to make them feel safe and secure,” McMasters said.

SMHA

He added it may be time to revise the agency’s business model. That could mean giving more responsibility and voice to staff, to empower them, and to further adopt an attitude that residents are customers.

McMasters said a few of the 10 already interviewed will still be considered, along with newcomers. He said eventually the field will be narrowed to a select few. They will be brought in for more extensive discussions with the entire five-member board, tasked with making the hire,


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