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Attorney defends DHA work, decisions

Richard Morrisroe, newly named attorney for the Dunkirk Housing Authority, writes in a commentary included in today’s edition that despite recent OBSERVER coverage of events at the agency that “the sky is not falling.”

His comments come in response to two months of turmoil at the authority that led to a dismissed executive director, an illegally held meeting and a question of missing cash. Morrisroe, in the letter, says recent changes at the top are a main reason for most of the problems.

“Contrary to what you may have read in the OBSERVER’s editorials about the Dunkirk Housing Authority, there is no chaos,” he notes in the commentary on Page A4. “Simply put, the DHA is in transition. Otherwise, as a highly regulated, publicly funded landlord, it still operates.”

Morrisroe also notes in the commentary the Authority has chosen a new executive director and the employee who took $550 before paying it all back within two days after a report was filed with the Dunkirk Police Department in early July has resigned. A contract with the board’s choice to lead the authority, however, is still pending.

As an agency that receives federal funding through the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Dunkirk Housing Authority has assets of more than $5 million. Earlier this month, an official at the U.S. department noted it is aware of the changes taking place at the Dunkirk Housing Authority.

“HUD’s role is to make sure HUD program guidelines are followed, and has limited involvement in personnel actions,” said Olga Alvarez, public affairs specialist at HUD, who was aware of the lack of a full-time director. “If the Dunkirk Housing Authority needs assistance in the interim, it can reach out to a neighboring Housing Authority to see if one of their executive directors can assist until a new one is hired.”

In August, the board did note it had received some assistance from the Jamestown office.

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