Parker to head Macon Housing Authority

Longtime executive takes permanent position

jgaines@macon.comJune 27, 2013 

MhaParker

June Parker is now the executive director of the Macon Housing Authority, after serving in the interim position since the retirement of longtime leader John Hiscox.

JASON VORHEES — jvorhees@macon.com Buy Photo

Just more than six months after the retirement of John Hiscox, the Macon Housing Authority has a new executive director -- and she should have no trouble settling in.

June Parker, who has held a variety of finance positions at the authority since 2000, has been interim executive director since Hiscox left.

“I’m very honored to have this opportunity to work with the board as well as the amazing staff we have,” Parker said.

At the time of Hiscox’s departure, she didn’t plan to apply for the permanent job but told the housing authority board she would serve as long as needed.

After a nationwide search, the housing authority had 30 final applicants, board chairwoman Pearlie Toliver said. A search committee interviewed six via Skype, she said.

After those talks, however, the committee members “just kind of looked at each other,” Toliver said. Public housing policy is changing rapidly, and Macon’s system is already more diversified and experimental than most, she said. They realized the expertise they needed to pursue the general course Hiscox had set was already in-house, Toliver said. The full board agreed and asked Parker to remain as executive director.

Parker’s selection also drew praise from Macon Mayor Robert Reichert, whose administration often works closely with the authority.

“After serving in an integral role at the Macon Housing Authority, I’m confident June Parker will be an exceptional executive director, and I am looking forward to her continuing the progress they have made in our community,” Reichert said via email.

Hiscox decided before he left that he wouldn’t meddle in future housing authority decisions, but he said he’s “proud and happy” to hear of Parker’s promotion.

“It was my pleasure to work with June for more than a decade. She is extraordinarily intelligent,” Hiscox said. “She’s extremely astute.”

While Parker’s background is in finance, she’s “not merely a bean counter” -- she has excellent overall business judgment, he said.

“She’s also a person of personal and professional integrity,” Hiscox said. “She knows what’s right and does what’s right and sticks up for what’s right.”

Parker said she’s had “a wonderful six months of working together” with the board and the housing authority’s staff, so when the board asked her to accept the permanent executive director’s job, she told them “it would be a pleasure.”

“Of course, we are in some very challenging times right now with sequestration, and we’ve had severe budget cuts,” she said.

Mandatory budget cuts across the federal government have left public housing with federal funding cuts of 18 percent, while the Section 8 housing voucher program has lost 5 percent, Parker said. That has cut down the number of vouchers the housing authority can give out locally, and it’s cutting into other services. But Parker said the agency is looking for other agencies to partner with to keep serving residents.

“We are also looking into trying to apply for some shortfall funding,” she said.

Meanwhile, the housing authority is working on putting into place a new program from the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development that converts public housing units to project-based rental assistance, Parker said. And the agency is still looking for funding opportunities to redevelop existing complexes, following Hiscox’s example, she said.

Parker’s promotion from her finance position clears the way for perhaps half a dozen internal promotions or job reorganizations that already were planned, Toliver said.

The housing authority is working to diversify its revenue sources, since federal funding continues to decline, she said. There’s even talk of creating a property management company. Such efforts mean the Macon Housing Authority doesn’t expect to have employee furloughs or layoffs like many other housing authorities nationwide, Toliver said.

Over the past decade, Hiscox said, the agency’s entire focus shifted from concentrating on specific projects to the larger mission of providing affordable housing in decent neighborhoods, whatever the method of providing that.

The tools the authority uses to accomplish those goals will shift over the years, such as the current move away from reliance on federal funding, and Parker is already well versed in managing that transition, Hiscox said.

Hiscox was executive director of the housing authority for 31 years and retired at the end of 2012. Many of the housing authority’s roughly 1,800 units were renovated or rebuilt during his tenure. He also spearheaded the construction of more low-cost housing, and the renovation of the 60-year-old Felton Homes complex into an energy-efficient showpiece.

To contact writer Jim Gaines, call 744-4489.

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