DeKalb County Housing Authority begins selection process for new executive director

DeKALB - After its current executive director announced her resignation last month, the DeKalb County Housing Authority began this week its selection process for her successor.

The authority’s Board of Commissioners met during a special meeting Tuesday to begin the selection process, according to county housing authority documents.

Executive Director Michelle Perkins announced her resignation on March 1, which will be effective May 27, according to documents obtained by the Daily Chronicle through the Freedom of Information Act.

According to a job description posted on the government’s website, the full-time executive director posting lists an annual salary between $95,000 and $140,000. The application seeks those with at least five years of leadership experience, including work in public housing, a bachelor’s degree, and a driver’s license. The position would also offer benefits including health insurance, a retirement plan, vehicle allowance, 12 paid federal holidays, sick leave and paid time off.

According to the job posting, the executive director would oversee the housing authority’s $9 million budget and staff of 24.

A new director was not selected during the Tuesday meeting, officials confirmed. However, the board determined a process to use for selecting Perkins’ successor and held a closed portion of the meeting to begin review of applications.

Vivian Bright, operations director for the Housing Authority, said Tuesday that 35 resumes were received for the executive director search. The applicants will be reviewed by the board of commissioners.

“In closed session the board will be reviewing resumes and determining who they would like to take to the next step,” Bright said.

In her March 1 letter to Jerry Wahlstrom, chairperson of the housing authority’s board, Perkins, who’s been with the department for 15 years, records show, announced her resignation.

“During these last few years, I have experienced many personal life changes that have significantly impacted my life,” Perkins said in the letter. “These changes have brought me to a place where I feel it is time to make additional life changes and as such, have decided to resign.”

Perkins called her work, including the past decade as executive director, a “second calling,” in her letter and said she’s proud of her efforts alongside clients and staff with the authority.

She will stay on until May 27.

“It has been my absolute pleasure to serve at this agency and I am forever grateful for the opportunities and experience that were afforded to me,” Perkins said in her letter.

In a March document providing notice to the Housing Authority board of Perkins’ forthcoming departure, housing authority staff listed what they called Perkins’ “outstanding leadership” at the department. During Perkins’ time as director, the housing authority purchased Briarwood Apartment complex in DeKalb, and received the Illinois Association of Housing Authorities Operational Excellence Award in 2021.

The Housing Authority of DeKalb County has existed since 1946 and is an autonomous government entity which provides resources and funnels federal financial aid for residents, including families and veterans, in need of housing assistance. The entity administers housing voucher and low-income public housing programs, along with programs to help shelter those without a home or those struggling with serious mental illnesses. It also provides resources to aid families in need of housing assistance.

According to the job description, the authority oversees 280 public housing units, 586 Housing Choice vouchers, 25 vouchers for Veterans Aid Supportive housing, 17 Emergency Housing Vouchers, 54 Shelter Plus Care Units, 12 Housing and Urban Development multifamily units and 51 other units throughout DeKalb County.