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Joy Fitzgerald voted Atlanta Housing interim leader — again

Maggie Lee
Atlanta Housing The board of Atlanta Housing voted to bring back Joy Fitzgerald as interim CEO. (Left to right) Robert Rumley, board chair Christopher Edwards, Joy Fitzgerald and Petrina Howard (Photo by Maria Saporta)

By Maggie Lee and Maria Saporta

Atlanta’s public housing authority is getting a new interim leader– Joy Fitzgerald.

“It’s actually a delight to be back with the Atlanta Housing Authority,” Fitzgerald said, just after the board approved her Wednesday as interim president and CEO.

“I think there’s a need, because of so much transition, for some stability, particularly for our staff,” she said.

Atlanta Housing

The board of Atlanta Housing voted to bring back Joy Fitzgerald as interim CEO. (Left to right) Robert Rumley, board chair Christopher Edwards, Joy Fitzgerald and Petrina Howard (Photo by Maria Saporta)

Fitzgerald was its last leader before a period of turmoil and turnover at the top. Fitzgerald had worked for the agency for about a dozen years, eventually becoming its interim leader, then its president and CEO for about a year before retiring in 2016.

Fitzgerald’s successor, Catherine Buell, resigned in 2018 with more than 18 months left in her contract, and with the housing authority a part of still-ongoing litigation with one of its developer-partners.

The next interim leader, Brandon Riddick-Seals, came from the board as the authority searched for a new, permanent president and CEO. They thought they had found him in Cincinnati’s Greg Johnson. Fitzgerald was even onboard with Atlanta Housing as a consultant to help Johnson transition into the job.

But in April, Johnson backed out of a deal to lead Atlanta Housing.

Atlanta Housing board chair Christopher Edwards said the Goodwin Group has been re-engaged to do the search for a new CEO. Because Goodwin has already interviewed and vetted so many people across the country, Edwards said the search firm would not be starting from the search from scratch.

“They are well up the ladder and believe they are going to have some very serious and interesting people that will want to be part of the organization,” Edwards said.

Fitzgerald said she would stay on board until a new CEO is on the job. She did tell the AH board she would commit to the interim role for six months.

Joy Fitzgerald

Joy Fitzgerald addresses the Atlanta Housing board after members vote to have her come out of retirement to become the agency’s interim CEO (Photo by Maria Saporta)

“I’m going to see the agency through, that’s my commitment,” Fitzgerald said.

Edwards said the agency now has time to be deliberative in its search.

“We’ve got good, steady hands on the wheel,” he said.

As for policy, Fitzgerald mentioned a short-term and a long-term item in her remarks to the board on Wednesday. First, get the annual budget finished by June 30. And it’s 98 percent done, she said.

Second, continue to try and get more housing built through the authority and its partners.

“I look forward to continuing the development work that is ongoing,” Fitzgerald said.

Atlanta Housing counts about 50,000 people as its clients. It administers housing vouchers and also owns some residential communities for low-income Atlantans, among other programs. And it helps build communities that will have below-market-rate housing.

In other business, the board of Atlanta Housing also approved a revised agreement to sell land near to the Civic Center to the Southface Energy Institute. Southface has been wanting to buy land underneath its campus along Pine Street for years.

Southface CEO Andrea Pinabell told the board that her organization, a  nonprofit that promotes green-building practices, was pleased they had reached an agreement. “We are a huge proponent of obtainable, sustainable, affordable housing,” Pinabell said.

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Maggie Lee
Maggie Lee

Maggie Lee is a freelance reporter who's been covering Georgia and metro Atlanta government and politics since 2008.

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  1. Avatar
    Mia Merritt October 23, 2019 7:08 pm

    Dear Ms. Fitzgerald
    Hello, I’m a participant with the housing program as a tenant. This is my first time having this service I’ve been a participant since December of 2018 & this is a service that I wouldn’t recommend to my worse enemy. I’ve had the most horrible experience with the employees. The first year was ok but not the best & I definitely believe it could have gone better had the proper people in charge had done their job. The second year in which ended early due to the landlord failing the inspection. For almost 2yrs my water bill had accumulated to $6700.00 & no one involved with the housing authority stepped in to assist me when I let them know of the bill when it reached a $1000.00 as well as several times after that I informed someone. But to my avail no one stepped in. The landlord insisted that my family was using this large amount of water as well as pointing the finger at Atlanta watershed. In which it had been confirmed by the water company that the property had to leaks. There was a big leak which got into the pantry/laundry walls in which caused about 2 feet of mold that they allowed the landlord to have someone from plumbing to only spray bleach smelling chemical in to the walls instead of taking the sheetrock down & properly addressing the situation. Mold is goid for no one especially children in which I have a 15,12 & a 3 year old as well. I begin to have electrical issues the microwave went out in which I informed the landlord at the time but was not taken care of in a timely fashion. I used my daughter’s microwave for 4 months also my stove/oven was out for a month in which no action was taken. It took for me to get the water company truly involved which I thank my angel for all of her help truly. For the landlord & the housing authority to begin to step up. I also feel that my income isn’t bring imputed correctly. I went from paying $283 for the first year to paying $1029.00 due to the fact that I have to adult children that got jobs in which it had been less than 6 months to prepare themselves for college that was their sole purpose so that they can get supplies & whatever else that they may had needed but now they are unable to even do that due to the hike if the rent. My income has also decreased. If I could afford a $1029.00 for rent I wouldn’t need assistance. I work part-time at FedEx in which due to Trump & his mess the company is slow. I feel that this is a setup to keep low income families just that in low income areas. It’s supposed to assist but yet I’m living check to check it doesn’t allow you to have any savings to fall back on so that you can get in a better situation. I want my children to have better & be better & adding on an extra $700.00 is just ridiculous to me. To make matters worse my past landlord current as well as others that I have encounter all have never heard of someone paying so much for rent & I’m supposed to be receiving assistance. Due to the fact that I had to involve the water company to get things taken care of the landlord wasn’t to pleased because he had to come out of pocket. Put an eviction on me lied & said I skipped rent even though he sent me a letter stating that I had to be out by Sept. 30,2019 also that he didn’t want me to renew the lease. He actually wanted us out before then but as I stated with the angel that truly helped me out & others that she got involved to help he wanted me out before that date. Needless to say we’re getting ready to move into out 2nd home with the rent at the ridiculous price of $932.00. I’m not sure about others but I don’t intend on spending the rest of my life on section 8 as others have said most tend to do. I’m trying to get out of the system I’ve gotten myself off of Foodstamps I have health insurance for my children & myself. We’ve been treated very very poorly by the employees at the Atlanta housing authority. Ms. Fitzgerald I pray that this crosses your path & that you could take the time to hear me out & contact me by email as soon as possible. Thank you.Report

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