Home News Local News Regional public housing group takes control of Artesia’s housing units

Regional public housing group takes control of Artesia’s housing units

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The Eastern Regional Housing Authority, which operates in 12 counties, now manages Artesia’s public housing operations. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

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The Eastern Regional Housing Authority has taken over another independent housing agency.

The official transfer of the Artesia Housing Corp. operations occurred Jan. 1, but ERHA had been managing Artesia Housing’s U.S. Housing and Urban Development contract since May 2019, said Chris Herbert, executive director of the ERHA, which has its administrative offices in Roswell.

The agency released its annual report recently and is scheduled to hold a public annual meeting by phone Thursday.

Herbert said that HUD had given a “troubled status” rating to Artesia Housing Corp.’s contract for at least a couple of years. The agency had operated independently of the city of Artesia.

Phone messages and emails to the director of the regional HUD office in Albuquerque were not returned by press time.

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ERHA is one of three regional authorities in the state and operates in 12 eastern counties. It has taken over at least five housing authorities in the eastern part of the state since 2009.

Herbert added that when he came to New Mexico in 2006, there were 48 housing authorities. He said that now there are 28, which does include some independent and municipal authorities in eastern New Mexico. Still, he thinks that more consolidation could occur in future years.

“One of the issues underway nationwide, smaller housing authorities are finding it more and more difficult to manage the HUD requirements that exist,” Herbert said. “Particularly the smaller authorities that have 100 or less units of public housing really, really struggle because it is hard to have the staff necessary to meet all the HUD requirements and also do all the work necessary to manage the housing units.”

He explained that proper handling of occupancy, waiting lists and eligibility determinations are crucial and can be difficult for smaller groups to manage while also handling all the HUD reporting requirements.

Sometimes mergers occur when a high-performing smaller housing group voluntarily decides to turn over its assets and management, he said. That was the case with the Eunice Housing Authority in 2012.

Herbert said that the six staff positions of the Artesia Housing Corp. have become part of the ERHA operations, although one maintenance worker resigned and was replaced. One Artesia Housing manager also became an ERHA manager, and the ERHA management duties were reorganized a bit.

He said that Chaves County residents will not notice any effect from the change, while Artesia residents of the 152 public housing units will notice a new name on building signage and what he thinks will be improved operations.

“We hope that things are more efficient and have already become more efficient in regard to fixing some of the issues, particularly some of the physical issues that exist with the public housing units located there,” he said.

He added that ERHA had been managing the Section 8 federal housing assistance program for Artesia for about 15 years, so the merger will not affect Section 8 assistance in the region.

Although the ERHA offices are closed to visitors for the time being, the public annual meeting is scheduled to occur Thursday at 1 p.m. People can participate by calling 1-888-740-4219 and entering the passcode 735532#.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.