The Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority has hired a new executive director.
John Sales, who is the city’s housing coordinator, announced during the Housing Advisory Committee’s meeting on Wednesday that he will be taking the position.
“I saw it as an opportunity to do some meaningful work and be directly impactul in the development and redevelopment of public housing,” he said. “I haven’t been to a locality where there’s been this much support for affordable housing in general.”
CRHA is a quasi-governmental agency that is not directly overseen by the city of Charlottesville. It receives funding from federal, state and local sources and manages the city’s public housing stock.
Sales will start Aug. 3 and succeeds Grant Duffield, who left in November for a job in Newport News. Sales’ salary with the city was $68,515 and his new pay will be $117,500.
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The housing authority’s board of commissioners approved Sales’ contract during a virtual meeting on June 22.
“[He] has been involved and understands our redevelopment process to date and where we are and we’re excited for his hire,” Board chairwoman Betsy Roettger said during the meeting.
Sales, a Richmond native, graduated from Old Dominion University with a master’s in public administration and bachelors in criminal justice.
He worked two years as director of development and capital projects for the Chesapeake Housing Authority before coming to Charlottesville in August 2019.
He has also worked with Norfolk to revamp its homeowner rehabilitation program and operates Sales Consulting Firm to assist nonprofits focused on housing find funding opportunities through grants and meet the requirements for those grants.
The housing authority is in the midst of the first phase of a massive redevelopment of the city’s public housing stock.
“The redevelopment that the housing authority is undertaking right now is completely resident-led and is a new model that not a localities in the country have used,” Sales said. “That shows you they’re ready, we’re ready this is an opportune time to make some meaningful development for the community.”
Phase one includes the renovation of Crescent Halls and construction of new units on South First Street.
The total development cost is about $34 million. The project at Crescent Halls would cost $15.39 million and South First Street would be $11.55 million.
At Crescent Halls, a three-part project will modernize the building and improve access for its residents, who are primarily seniors and disabled persons. The renovated building will have 98 one-bedroom and seven two-bedroom apartments.
The project will start in conjunction with the first phase of work on South First Street, where 58 existing units will be redeveloped and 142 units will be added, at a total estimated cost of about $38 million.
Phase one at South First Street is a 63-unit development next to the existing public housing near the intersection of South First Street and Hartmans Mill Road in the Ridge Street neighborhood.
Once that phase is complete, crews will move onto phase two at South First Street and replace the existing 58 units with 113 multifamily units. The effort also includes a 7,000-square-foot community center and 3,000 square feet of office space.
Sales will be CRHA’s eighth executive director since 1998, with each of his predecessors lasting three to four years in the role.
Sales’ departure will leave the city government without a dedicated housing staffer for the second time in less than two years. His predecessor, Stacy Pethia, was hired by Albemarle County in late 2018.
Kathleen Glenn-Matthews, who is CRHA’s operations director, has served as interim executive director in the past few months and plans to stay with the agency.
Sales acknowledged that the housing authority has a troubled history with regulations, vacancies and maintenance.
Some of Sales’ solutions include physical needs assessments to anticipate maintenance issues and pursuing grant opportunities.
“A lot of it is communicating about the different opportunities to fund some of these initiatives,” he said, “and better understanding when some of these issues might arise.”