Brick Housing Authority Seeks New Director

The Brick Housing Authority is currently without leadership. (Photo by Judy Smestad-Nunn)

BRICK – The Brick Housing Authority held a special meeting to authorize the search for a new executive director of the Brick Housing Authority.

They also approved a contract to authorize a review of financial transactions (ie: an audit) regarding the former Housing Authority Executive Director Alesia Watson, 54, who tendered her resignation in May after admitting that she embezzled money from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) earmarked for the Ocean City Housing Authority, where she was also the executive director.

According to acting U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick, Watson used Ocean City Housing Authority credit cards to purchase gift cards between December 2013 and March 2015, which she used for personal expenses and gifts, and then used HUD money to pay off the credit cards.

Under Watson’s plea agreement, the loss associated with the embezzlement was more than $6,500 and less than $15,000. She is scheduled for sentencing on August 15.

Meanwhile, the Brick Housing Authority’s internal staff has been filling in for Watson, and Commissioner Chairperson Kim Terebush has been contacted when there have been any issues, said Brick Housing Authority Commissioner Ron Jampel.

The Housing Authority is the owner and manager of the 266 public housing units for the elderly and the handicapped in Brick, said Jampel.

The units are located in the three apartment buildings at the Chambers Bridge Residence on Chambers Bridge Road.

The Authority also administers 190 Section 8 vouchers which are given to low-income residents who present them to their landlords towards their rent.

Those who are eligible for the federally-funded vouchers pay 30 percent of the rent, which is based on the number of bedrooms in an Ocean County rental unit, Jampel explained.

“For example, if someone makes $1,000 a month, and they pay $1,200 for a two-bedroom, the tenant would pay $300 and the vouchers would pay $900,” he said.

Jampel, who was appointed to the volunteer position on the authority by Mayor John G. Ducey in January 2017, was a consultant with NJ Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency (NJHMFA) in the late 1970s where he became a full-time employee in the early 1980s, he said. He then became its deputy executive director. Since 1991, Jampel has worked as an Affordable Housing consultant to 30 profit and nonprofit developers.

The governor also gets to appoint one of the seven commissioners, which was Stephen Scaturro. The town council appointed commissioners Kim Terebush, Kathy Russell, Robyn Gedrich, and Richard Dyer; and there is also one resident commissioner, Peter Dunne.

(Photo by Micromedia Publications)

Jampel said the board would be advertising the executive director position as either full-time, part-time, or in a shared service agreement, such as Watson’s before she resigned.

“We will take applications from anyone under all three scenarios,” Jampel said. “I would support it being a full-time job if we could get somebody aggressive who wants to do more for the tenants, and it fits within our budget.”

“In the short amount of time I’ve been here, I noticed there are more tenant services that could be done, organizational-wise,” he said.

For example, an executive director could coordinate medical services for the seniors, Jampel said.

“Seniors need more social services and more medical attention, so I’d like to see more coordination with Brick Hospital to make their lives better,” he said

But if the new executive director strictly acts as a landlord, it is not a full-time job, he added.

Mayor John G. Ducey said that the CPA firm of Fallon & Larsen LLC is currently conducting the audit of the Brick Housing Authority.

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Judy moved to Ocean County from New York City in 1988, and began her second career as a feature and news reporter in the mid-1990's. She has worked for Micromedia Publications since 2008, primarily reporting for The Toms River Times and The Brick Times. Judy has also worked for The Leader Review in Point Pleasant Beach, The Brick Communicator and The Asbury Park Press. Reach Judy by e-mail at [email protected]