New housing director sets his sights high

Published 5:21 pm Thursday, March 7, 2013

Ron Jones came to Clanton with 18 years of experience as a consultant to housing authorities.

Ron Jones came to Clanton with 18 years of experience as a consultant to housing authorities.

Ron Jones knows public housing, and he knows that Clanton’s public housing is among the best in the state.

That’s why Jones took the position of director of Clanton Housing Authority and why he thinks he can help improve housing even further.

Jones, who lives in Pelham, came to work in Clanton after 18 years of housing authority consulting in Birmingham and Atlanta, helping people in the same position in which he now finds himself.

Even before the beginning of his professional career, a 13-year-old Jones helped his father, who was serving as a public housing director in Valdosta, Ga.

Jones’ father retired as public housing director in Bessemer, and his mother currently is in that position in Tarrant.

“It’s always been a goal of mine to get into public housing,” Jones said. “What I enjoy are the people.”

When he began looking for a housing authority to lead, Clanton was an obvious choice because of its reputation.

“I consider this one of the better ones in Alabama,” he said.

The units are in good condition, Jones said, and the proximity of the units near Ollie Avenue to Winn Dixie and other stores makes them attractive.

Clanton’s Housing Authority manages 178 apartments­­—130 near Ollie Avenue and 48 in the West End community. Fifty of the units at Ollie Avenue are strictly for the elderly.

The apartments range from one-bedroom “efficiency” units to five-bedroom units.

The authority recently achieved its goal of having 5 percent of all units be handicap accessible.

Jones said people have relocated from places like Prattville, Montgomery—and even as far away as Detroit—to Clanton’s housing.

But, of course, there is room for improvement.

Jones said housing and police officials plan to put up “No Loitering” signs around the West End apartments in an effort to cut down on the number of non-residents that are often in the area.

“The majority of the problem isn’t the residents; it’s the people who don’t even live over there,” Jones said.

Police will also enforce the $250 fine for loitering.

Both housing communities could use upgraded lighting, Jones said.

The authority has instituted a no-cash policy for rent payments in the name of safety for residents and department employees. A night deposit box has also been installed.

Residents have two options for their rent structure. They can either pay 30 percent of their income (minus deductions for children, age or disability), or pay a flat rent. Jones said the apartments themselves are efficient, costing an average of $420.79 per month for operators to maintain.

Clanton Housing Authority had 10 vacancies as of Thursday afternoon, an unusually high number. Anyone interested in the apartments should visit the authority’s office off Ollie Avenue on a Wednesday.

Jones’ staff includes two administrative assistants and four maintenance workers. He answers to a five-person board that is made up of people selected by the mayor and a resident member.

They are all trying to fulfill Jones’ vision of making the communities like “Mayberry,” with a desirable atmosphere and high quality of life.

“I just want to try to make it the best it can be,” Jones said. “This is a good place to live.”