By Julie Johansen
Emery County Housing Authority addressed a small audience regarding its desire to sell the HUD (Housing and Urban Development) apartments in Castle Dale and Ferron. This would include 10 units in Castle Dale and 12 units in Ferron. Chairman of the Housing Authority, Bart Cox explained the reasoning behind the decision.
Cox stated that the apartments have not been in compliance with HUD requirements for over 5 years. Even though they are now operating in the black, they need at least 90% occupancy, and this requirement has been difficult to reach, especially in Ferron.
When questioned why the occupancy goal in Ferron has been difficult to achieve, Cox replied that tenants preferred to live in Castle Dale where there are more amenities such as the medical clinic, a larger grocery store and a courthouse. Cox further explained that maintenance costs have been hard to cover.
He stated that another reason for considering the sell is that many people who qualify for HUD housing would rather live in other residential areas and apply for a Section 8 voucher which subsidizes the applicant’s rent. It was also explained that HUD has done everything it could to help the county meet the necessary requirements. HUD authorities visited the county three weeks ago and felt the best option for these two units would be to try to sell them.
Cindy Draper with the Emery County Housing Authority explained that this will not happen immediately. She stated that it could take some time, possibly even a year, as there is extensive paperwork that has to be accomplished. Commissioner Wilson explained that there are a lot options and their goal is to continue to serve the citizens this program is currently serving.
The Housing Authority, although organized by Emery County, is not a county entity. It is regulated by the Federal Government. He also stated that he has been talking to Four Corners Mental Health about the possibility of it buying the apartments, as they have housing in Price and Moab but none in Emery County. He felt that it would be advantageous to find someone in the government sector to manage these apartments for HUD.
There were few questions following these explanations and tenants were told again they would not lose their housing but may have other options. This sale would actually enhance their ability for a Section 8 voucher which they would receive if the apartments were sold.