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Housing Authority board member resigns

By Caitlin Rickard crickard@lebanondemocrat.com • Updated Mar 7, 2014 at 12:18 AM

Lebanon Housing Authority board member Bill Durham resigned from the board of directors Thursday following a recent incident where he gave a 35-year-old woman a place to stay at Hillcrest Homes, which is public housing for disabled people. 

Mayor Philip Craighead said he received and accepted Durham’s resignation and would find a replacement board member soon.

At Lebanon Housing Authority’s Thursday meeting, executive director Patrick Johnson said as a result of the incident with Durham he felt the board handled the situation well.

“The housing authority took due diligence to make sure the issue was resolved in the right way,” Johnson said.

Following reports of the incident, Johnson said he received a call from the Housing and Urban Development’s Nashville field office. He said he answered with a three-page response detailing what happened and the steps taken.

Johnson said he then received a response from HUD that said it was pleased with actions the housing authority took in response to the incident.

Johnson also explained he would present board orientation packets at next month’s meeting in an effort to reiterate and outline roles and responsibilities for board members.

The incident in question happened last month when, according to a Lebanon police report, Jennifer Marie Turner was found living at 17 Hillcrest Homes on Feb. 5. The report also said the leaseholder couldn’t be found and none of the leaseholder’s property was found. 

Durham said the leaseholder was a 58-year-old man who had “a couple of strokes.” When the leaseholder decided to take a trip to Pittsburgh, Durham gave his unit at Hillcrest Homes to Turner.

But when Durham stopped paying rent on 17 Hillcrest Homes after the leaseholder decided to remain in Pittsburgh and Turner was evicted after she was found living there, it raised some questions with Johnson. 

“We cannot sublet the units,” Johnson said. “Bill should not have taken it upon himself to do that. Period. He’s all caught up in trying to help someone, but you can’t do that. I have federal policies I have to abide by. 

“You cannot let homeless people stay in public housing. Period. They have to apply just like anyone else,” said Johnson.

Durham said he met Turner while he was working as a volunteer with Compassionate Hands, a local ministry of churches that helps feed and shelter homeless people during the winter months. 

Durham said the leaseholder was aware Turner was staying in the unit at the time. 

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