of "LICKING METROPOLITAN HOUSING AUTHORITY"
April 13, 1970, Licking County Commissioners, Russell Hoar,
Thurman Love and Donald Hill had an important item of business
before them. Looking for ways to address pressing housing needs
across the county, they voted to create a local housing
authority. After their plan was approved by the State of Ohio,
the commissioners, Newark Mayor, James Alexander and judges from
the county’s probate and common pleas courts appointed five
local men—Julius Blum, Clarence Feil, Melvin Foor, George
Hatfield and George Wood—to terms on the board of
commissioners for the newly christened Licking Metropolitan
Housing Authority. The board’s first meeting was held
September 16, 1970.
LMHA’s roots really extend much farther back than that
September day in 1970. Substandard housing was recognized as a
problem as early as the 1890s during the Industrial Revolution
as masses of immigrants and other would-be factory workers
poured into the nation’s urban areas. Housing was considered a
local problem until it became a national policy issue during
World War I and then a national crisis when the Great Depression
gripped the country in the late 1920s and early 1930s.
response, Congress passed the National recovery Act as part of
President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal in 1933. While the
thrust of that initiative was to spur economic growth that would
help many people improve their housing conditions through
employment, some $150 million was set aside for the Housing
Division of the Public Works Administration. Thus, the nation’s
public housing program was born. From there, Congress approved
the Housing Act of 1937. It established the U.S. Housing
Authority and authorized it to make loans to public agencies for
federal government’s role in providing affordable housing
continued to grow through the ensuing decades and boomed during
President Lyndon B. Johnson’s “war on poverty” efforts
during the mid 1960’s. The Housing Act of 1965 created the
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the
first presidential cabinet seat for housing policy. Three years
later, the Housing Act of 1968 established the nation’s first
rental subsidy program.
climate of extending national housing policies to the grassroots
level resulted in the formation of local housing authorities
across the country. In Ohio, these public bodies were to be
organized under guidelines established by the State Legislature.
They required that each housing authority be governed by a board
of commissioners who are appointed by the mayor of the largest
city in the county, the county commissioners, probate court
judge and common pleas court judges. That appointment structure
remains in place today.
their appointment in 1970, the five LMHA commissioners wasted
little time in getting to work. Their first project was
conducting a survey to determine the county’s most critical
housing needs. The survey indicated the board’s first priority
should be to develop decent, affordable housing for Licking
April 21, 1971, the board passed a resolution to develop an
elderly housing project in Newark’s central business district.
A year later, the Newark architectural firm of Joseph E. Baker
& Associates was hired to create plans for a seven-story,
high-rise apartment building for the elderly at the southwest
corner of North Fifth and West Church streets. The firm’s
design, which called for a rectangular building with colored
glass windows, a front portico and a rear garage whose roof
could serve as a patio, so impressed HUD officials that it would
be used in other federally funded housing projects.
June 20, 1974, The Advocate trumpeted the good news that the
federal government had approved $2,732,650 for construction of
LMHA’s 100 unit, senior citizen high rise. Over the next two
years, The Advocate kept local residents apprised of the
building’s progress. The dream of the LMHA board became a
reality on June 15, 1976, when the high rise welcomed its first
tenants. The building was officially dedicated on October 24,
1970s were also marked by two other important developments in
In February 1976, the Housing Authority signed its first
contract with William Gandert of the Mansfield Metropolitan
Housing Authority to administer Licking County’s housing
programs. That was the start of a long relationship between LMHA
and Gandert, who was responsible for the Housing Authority’s
operations from his hiring in 1976 until November 1997.
in 1976, LMHA was awarded its first Section 8 housing
contract from HUD, with 100 rental units receiving a total of
$158,760 in rental subsidies. The Section 8 program, which
provides rent subsidies to income-eligible households, was
created in t947 under the National Housing and community
Development Act. LMHA added another 62 Section 8 housing
certificates in April 1977. By 1980, 213 local families were
living in Section 8 housing. The 1980s and early 1990s at LMHA
were highlighted by improvements to the senior citizen high rise
and the growth of the Section 8 program.
1980, a second elevator was added at the high rise. The LMHA
staff moved into offices in the building a year later. In 1984,
a fire alarm and emergency call system was installed and
improvements made to the heating system. High rise residents
were happy to get the news in 1987 that new windows were being
installed and they could have pets if they liked. New carpeting,
bath vanities and kitchen cupboards were installed and lightning
protection system added in 1990. New paint and carpeting
brightened the lobby in 1993, and landscaping improvements
enhanced the building’s grounds that same year. A new roof
over the community room and security cameras was installed in
gradually increased its number of Section 8 vouchers and
certificates during the 1980s. By the mid 1990s, it began to
focus more of its attention on new community based programs
aimed at easing the county’s housing problems. In a 1995
partnership with the Licking County community Development
Department, LMHA kicked off a Tenant-Based Rental Assistance
Program for 25 families with funding provided by the State of
Ohio. A similar program was launched with the city of Newark in
1996 through the use of State of Ohio HOME funds obtained by the
city’s Division of Community Development.
1997, a flurry of events driven by the board of
commissioners set LMHA on a more proactive course toward
addressing local housing issues. The board’s first step in
that direction came in August 1997 when it hired the Columbus
firm of Burn, Bertsch and Harris to develop a strategic plan for
the Housing Authority. By year end, the board had agreed to
discontinue its long standing contract with the Mansfield
Metropolitan Housing Authority in favor of hiring a locally
based executive director. In June 1998, Sylvia-Ray Taylor, who
had previously served in community development positions with
the cities of Newark and Bowling Green Ohio, was named LMHA’s
has made tremendous strides in landing housing grants, adding
Section 8 vouchers and improving living conditions for elderly
residents at the high rise (renamed “Terrace Gardens in
of the more notable accomplishments of the past two years
1998—Received an additional 100 Section 8 vouchers under
HUD’s Main Stream Program.
1998—Purchased a 10-passanger van with a wheelchair lift
to transport residents of Terrace Gardens.
1999—Received $250,000 from HUD to improve the heating
system and landscaping at Terrace Gardens.
1999—Received a $6,000 donation from Dow Chemical for
improvements to the Terrace Gardens Community Room.
1999— Acquired $132,130 in HUD capital funds to repair air
conditioning units at Terrace Gardens.
1999— Awarded 100 housing vouchers totaling $411,459 under
the Welfare to Work Program and 50 vouchers totaling
$248,940 under the Family Unification Program. Both programs
are partnerships with the Licking county Department of Jobs
and Family Services.
2000—Received a HUD grant totaling $756,420 to house 25
homeless families with mental disabilities. The program is
in partnership with Moundbuilder’s Guidance Center.
2000—Conducted LMHA’s first educational workshop for
Section 8 landlords and property managers.
2000—Awarded a contract to the Licking County coalition
for Housing to conduct good tenant workshops for recipients
of Welfare to Work housing vouchers.
2000—Began replacement of all heating and air conditioning
units at Terrace Gardens and completing construction of the
garden on the second floor patio.
the new millennium unfolds, LMHA staff members and the Board of
Commissioners are committed to building on the Housing Authority’s
many accomplishments of the past 30 years. LMHA’s mission
remains unchanged from that September day in 1970 when its
founding directors pounded the gavel to begin their meeting. The
agency continues to be committed to providing long term, quality
housing opportunities for local residents and helping them
achieve independence and a better quality of life.