A top administrator for the Northwest Oregon Housing Authority is on paid leave pending the results of an investigation.
Deputy Director Teresa Sims was put on administrative leave in May after the agency began looking into complaints from several staff members, according to Todd Johnston, the housing authority’s executive director.
Johnston would not provide details about the complaints against Sims, but said she is aware of the investigation, which began in April.
Sims could not be reached for comment Thursday.
She will remain on leave until the investigation, which is being conducted by an outside firm, is completed. Johnston expected to have a final report Tuesday, but said it has been delayed by a few weeks.
“It is a cost,” Johnston said of the review, “but we felt it was important because the allegations were pretty serious.”
The housing authority provides rental assistance and owns and manages low-income housing in Clatsop, Tillamook and Columbia counties.
Sims oversees human resources and the day-to-day operations of the federal housing choice voucher program staff. Other staff members have pitched in to take over Sims’ duties in the meantime.
“It’s definitely a challenge,” Johnston said, adding, “We’re hoping that the investigation is resolved soon so we can move forward.”
“The job’s getting done and staff morale is positive,” said Scott Lee, the chairman of the housing authority’s board, who also serves as the chairman of the Clatsop County Board of Commissioners. “I haven’t noticed and the board has not noticed any lack of service.”
He said he could not provide further details until the investigation concludes.
“Things will come to light at that time,” he said, “and then we’ll see what happens.”
Sims has been with the housing authority for many years, predating Johnston’s tenure.
She was on staff in 2009 when leaders admitted they had inadvertently given out more rent assistance than the agency could support, triggering a budget crisis that threatened to put over 200 families at risk of eviction. The housing authority received emergency funds and dug into savings to cover the rent subsidies. Carol Snell was executive director of the agency at the time.