Young hired as city housing director

Published 11:31 am Monday, June 23, 2014

Former North Ward alderwoman and mayoral candidate Gertrude Young has been hired as the new city housing director replacing Leona Stringer, who retired May 31.

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen Friday voted 2-1 during a 30-minute executive session to hire Young at a salary of $40,000 a year. North Ward Alderman Michael Mayfield cast the “no” vote. Young starts July 2.

“We had three current city employees that applied for the position,” Mayfield said. “Two of them had the qualifications and credentials and could do the job. We had one that had HUD (U.S. Housing and Urban Development) certification that Mrs. Young didn’t have, and she was highly qualified for the position, and that’s why I voted for that employee.”

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Mayfield declined to name the employee he voted for, but added, “I believe Mrs. Young will do a good job for the city.”

The housing director assists in planning, developing, implementing and coordinating federal, state and local private housing grants applications and regulations. The grants include money to help first-time homebuyers or elderly, special needs or low-income residents repair their homes.

Mayor George Flaggs Jr. and South Ward Alderman Willis Thompson said they believed Young was the best-qualified person for the job.

“She’s passionate about housing, she’s familiar with city government and she works well with people,” Flaggs said.

Thompson said Young “knows the real estate market, she is good with people and has contacts in real estate. I think she should be given the opportunity to operate the office.”

A Realtor, Young is vice president of Warren County Habitat for Humanity. She has given up her Realtor’s license and resigned from Habitat to take the new position, Flaggs said.

“Housing is my interest,” she said. “I would like to take the housing office to a different level and look at some new areas.”

She said she wants to work with investors and civic organizations to acquire some of the city’s dilapidated housing and renovate them so low-income families will have the opportunity to own a home. She said she is also working to find a buyer for the Oak Street Apartments, which have been condemned by the city.

“I want to see if we can find a buyer to renovate it and get it back on the tax rolls,” she said.

Young served as North Ward alderwoman from 1993 to 2005, when Mayfield defeated her. She ran for mayor in 2013, finishing fourth in a six-candidate field behind Mayor George Flaggs Jr., Linda Fondren and former mayor Paul Winfield.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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