La Joya housing authority appoints new board chairperson

LA JOYA — A newcomer was chosen to lead the La Joya Housing Authority Board of commissioners Thursday as they appointed a new chairperson and vice chairperson.

The board voted unanimously to appoint Board Commissioner Filomena Leo as the board chair during Thursday’s meeting which was only her second meeting on the board.

Leo, a former teacher and superintendent for the La Joya school district, was appointed to the housing authority board in April by La Joya Mayor Isidro Casanova.

“Thank you all for this opportunity to serve the city of La Joya,” Leo said.

Board Commissioner Jorge Bazan, who was currently serving as vice chairperson of the board was unanimously re-appointed to the role.

They also welcomed a new tenant commissioner to the board, Hillary Garcia, who replaced former Jose A. Salinas on the board.

A municipal housing authority with a board comprised of five commissioners, is required have at least one of those commissioners be a tenant of the authority’s housing or who is a recipient of their housing assistance.

Garcia said she moved into La Joya’s public housing about a year ago

“I am very excited and eager to know what’s going on in my community,” Garcia said, adding that she plans to keep the board informed of their tenants’ needs.

Last week, the office of U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, announced that the La Joya Housing Authority would receive $14,962 through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

While the announcement stated the funds would “ensure people with disabilities have access to affordable housing during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Villarreal said he is still awaiting guidance on how those funds can be utilized.

The housing authority received the funds on Tuesday but Villarreal said responses from the U.S. Housing and Urban Development, the federal department which oversees the housing authority, are delayed because their employees are working from home.

“But we were told that that money can only be used in certain circumstances. I don’t have a problem with that, we’ll use it however they indicate to us,” Villarreal said. “But they haven’t given us the correct guidance.”

However, Villarreal assured he would keep inquiring about how the money can be used.