BHA opposed to merger

When it comes to the idea of merging the Bremerton Housing Authority with the Kitsap County Consolidated Housing Authority, one thing is now clear: BHA leadership firmly opposes the idea.

Former Bremerton Mayor Lynn Horton, who is now vice chairwoman of the BHA Board of Directors and BHA Executive Director Merrill Wallace presented their case to the citizen’s committee charged with the task of exploring the idea of merging the two housing authorities at the committee’s weekly meeting on Tuesday night.

“When I came on the BHA board I was in favor of consolidation,” Horton said. “Over the course of time I have come to the position that I no longer support consolidation.”

The BHA has more to give up than it has to gain in the merger and the merger could jeopardize the organization’s contract administration division, she said.

The organization’s contract administration division employs 50 personnel and brings in about $2 million in net profits to the city from the administration of federal housing programs in other cities, counties and states including Hawaii and Nebraska.

“The contracts with the state of Washington and Nebraska would immediately be terminated,” said Clarence Nelson, director of the BHA contract management services division.

The contracts with the state of Hawaii and other organizations also could be terminated at the request of those groups, Nelson said.

“I think there is concern on the part of some individuals in HUD that this is something they would not like to see happen,” Horton said.

The BHA has not been effective in communicating its message to the mayor’s office or the city council, which is probably one of the reasons for the exploration of the merger, she said.

“I think the relationship between the KCCHA and BHA could be improved with an agreement that clearly defines the roles and responsibilities of each,” she said.

The BHA supports the revitalization and redevelopment of Bremerton, even if it has taken a more conservative approach than the KCCHA, she said.

“It’s important to see this community succeed and I think the Bremerton Housing Authority can play a major role in that,” Horton said.

Mayor Cary Bozeman reiterated his stance about the possibility of merging the two housing authorities.

“My feelings have nothing to do with consolidation,” Bozeman said. “What I am interested in is how can we aggressively pursue affordable housing in Bremerton.”

The committee will conduct a public hearing at 5 p.m. on Monday, May 16 in the Council Chambers at the Norm Dicks Government Center to solicit comments from the public concerning the possibility of merging the two housing authorities.

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