Warner Robins housing chief has big ideas

WARNER ROBINS — In her new job, Sheryl Frazier lives by one guiding principle: Residents in housing authorities deserve decent, safe and sanitary housing just like everyone else.

“You have to work hard to make them look like communities people want to live in,” said Frazier, who this year was named executive director of the Warner Robins Housing Authority.

Frazier, 51, stepped onto the local public housing scene Feb. 23 and has worked hard reorganizing the authority and making efforts to spruce up the properties.

Authority board member Alton Mattox said that drive and attitude convinced him Frazier was right for the job.

“She was willing to work, and I found her philosophy and objectives in line with my philosophy and objectives,” Mattox said.

Mattox said board members also were attracted to the South Hampton County, Va., native’s qualifications.

Frazier has performed housing authority work since 1998 when she was first hired to work in the Columbia Housing Authority in South Carolina. In August 2005, she returned to Virginia to become the executive director of the Franklin Housing and Redevelopment Authority, where she worked until she took the Warner Robins job.

Once in Middle Georgia, Frazier restructured the staff and placed a greater emphasis on property management as directed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

She’s also working to improve the 422 public housing units in Warner Robins and 40 units in unincorporated Houston County, which she also oversees.

From President Obama’s federal stimulus plan, she has received $811,700 for public housing in the Warner Robins area and $69,000 for housing in the county. With that money, she plans to focus on properties along Vickie Lynn Drive that are in need of central air conditioning, landscaping and erosion control.

At Kathleen Bynum Homes in Houston County, efforts will focus on creating a gated community as well as adding landscaping and interior cabinets, she said.

And that’s just with the federal stimulus money.

With the capital funds the authority receives from HUD, which totals about $650,000 every year, Frazier said the focus will turn to Green Street, where plans call for making improvements similar to those in the Vickie Lynn Drive community.

“We’re working to change the face of the community,” Frazier said.

Those words are music to Mayor Donald Walker’s ears.

For years, the state of the housing authority has been a concern because it has represented the little blight that exists in Warner Robins. Now, Walker said he’s optimistic things will improve.

“I’m comfortable with her in the driver’s seat,” Walker said of Frazier.

The city’s redevelopment executive director, Gary Lee, said he looks forward to working with Frazier, especially because the authority’s properties are within the city’s redevelopment area.

He is particularly eager to work with her on the Kemp Harrison Homes for elderly and disabled residents. He noted that many of the residents cannot access the second floor, and he said the buildings are in “deplorable conditions.”

“We need to come back with something more modern and progressive,” Lee said. “We wouldn’t want our parents to live in a blighted area.”

Like the mayor, Lee said he’s confident working with Frazier will make good things happen with the different financial resources the city and housing authority can access.

Frazier said she’s eager to work with the city and has her own laundry list of things to accomplish, including providing additional recreational opportunities and space for children.

One of her goals is to create a resident services center where people can attain life skills to help them find jobs, better their families and eventually move into their own homes.

“The ultimate goal of a housing authority is to move people in, up and out,” Frazier said.

To contact writer Natasha Smith, call 923-3109, extension 236.