The Atlanta Housing Authority Board of Commissioners unanimously appointed Eugene Jones Jr., as its new president and CEO on Sept. 10, during a special session. Jones, who was not present at the meeting is expected to begin his term on Oct. 7.
Jones comes to the Atlanta Housing Authority after serving as the president and CEO of the Chicago Housing Authority since 2015, which is considered the second-largest housing authority in the nation.
“We have deliberated on what we think is the most important thing that a board can do and that is to hire, and/or in some cases fire a CEO,” said Atlanta Housing Chairman Christopher Edwards after the board came out of its executive session. “That is a board’s primary responsibility and, once that person is hired, then to support them and let them get on about the business of providing affordable housing.”
“(Jones) is a proven leader in public housing and public finance, and the Board of Commissioners and staff welcome him to Atlanta with open arms,” Edwards added. “He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience and will build upon the stability and clarity of purpose established under CEO Joy Fitzgerald. We extend our heartfelt thanks to Joy for stepping in as interim CEO and for helping to transition Mr. Jones into his new role.”
Jones has built a 35-year record of strong leadership experience, in eight major cities in the United States and Canada, working in public housing operations, new construction, capital construction, resident services, accounting and finance, auditing maintenance, and Housing Choice Voucher programs.
“I’d like to thank the AHA Board of Commissioners for their thorough, deliberate and thoughtful selection progress,” said Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. “(Jones) has shown dedication, expertise and effectiveness in creating affordable housing in major cities across North America He will be a valued leader in helping bring to fruition our One Atlanta Housing Affordability Action Plan.”
In late June, Bottoms announced the city’s first-ever affordable housing action plan, putting into action one of her central campaign pledges—investing $1 billion in public and private funds to combat rising housing costs and the displacement of longtime residents.
The 45-action Affordable Housing Action Plan, which aims to substantially increase the number of Atlanta residents who can afford their housing costs, represents a collaborative and shared effort from multiple City agencies and a diverse group of nonprofits, philanthropic organizations, faith-based organizations, educational institutions, private companies, residents, and community members who came together under the banner of House ATL to develop recommendations that are critical to the future of housing in Atlanta.
As Jones get acquainted with new his position in Atlanta, interim CEO Fitzgerald is expected to stay on to help with the transition.
Fitzgerald, a former AHA CEO, assumed the reins again on an interim basis in late April after Gregory Johnson, AHA’s original pick to be its new leader, said he would remain at the helm of Cincinnati’s housing agency.
“We believe (Jones), who has tremendous experience in housing in various markets and who was highly sought after by various cities in other areas, will bring extreme and immediate value to the mission that we have both as the City of Atlanta and as the (Atlanta Housing Authority) in getting to and getting affordable hosing done quickly,” Edwards said. “That’s our goal, that’s where we’re heading and I think we picked the right person.”
Though Jones’s appointment was the biggest news of the day, the board also announced that its General Counsel Terri Thompson will be stepping down and, in her place, Lisa Washington, a member of Atlanta Housing Authority’s Office of General Counsel, will take over the position.
“Without housing, there is no healthcare. Without housing there is no education for kids,” Edwards said. “No one can survive without a foundation. A foundation is having somewhere that is safe for you to live. That’s what we do and that’s what we continue to do.”