The Canton Housing Authority has a new leader to guide its plans to improve affordable housing in the area.
Jackie Loberg, who has been the interim director of the agency since May, was appointed to the executive director role last Wednesday.
The Canton Housing Authority operates under the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, distinct from the city government. But to foster local oversight, the housing authority’s board of directors is appointed by the Canton mayor.
Before coming to Canton, Loberg worked at the Marietta Housing Authority from 2014 to 2016, and has served at the Milwaukee Housing Authority from 2006 until 2013.
Loberg’s priorities for the authority include upgrading and expanding the three public housing neighborhoods in the city: Jefferson Circle, Shipp Street and Oakside Drive. The housing authority owns 145 units across the three communities.
“There’s a lot of progress going on in Canton right now. And I think everyone can see that there is really a lack of affordable housing in the area. And especially after this pandemic, there are even more people that are looking for housing,,” she said. “So our main objective in the next couple of years is to really upgrade our property, and on top of it, increase our portfolio.”
So far, the housing authority has applied to the state Department of Community Affairs to replace the 39-unit neighborhood on Shipp Street with new homes and add 31 units, with a 9% tax credit.
The city of Canton has loaned $570,000 for the project and the housing authority is putting in $830,000, Loberg said. CHA expects to hear from the state whether it’s approved by the end of the year.
After upgrading and expanding the Shipp Street community, CHA hopes to eventually do the same with Jefferson Circle and later with the Oakside neighborhood, Loberg said.
Oakside is the housing authority’s largest community, with 75 units. The Jefferson Circle neighborhood is made up of 31 townhomes and duplexes.
In 2018, then-Mayor Gene Hobgood asked for the resignations of all existing CHA board members and appointed a whole new board, after two managers were fired for alleged misuse of agency credit cards. After that, HUD designated CHA as troubled, meaning its finances underwent monthly audits, until 2019.
The new board has been supportive of the housing authority’s efforts, Loberg said.
“The people that are living in this city, everyone needs a place to live,” she said. “With our rents the way that they are, it’s virtually impossible for some of our residents. The people that are working in your hospitals, your schools and your stores, and your restaurants, it is very difficult for them to find rent. Some one-bedroom units are $1,200. So this isn’t something where we’re just housing people, we’re housing your community.”