New housing board meets for first time

For years, officials have bandied about the idea of consolidating the valley's three public housing agencies to save money and more efficiently help poor people put roofs over their heads.

On Tuesday evening, all the obstacles that had blocked such a merger -- power struggles, concerns about problems at fellow agencies, logistical challenges -- had melted away, at least for the moment.

"This is a historic day," said Douglas Lyon, a Clark County administrator, at the first meeting of the newly formed Southern Nevada Regional Housing Authority board, at Las Vegas City Hall.

Lyon served as facilitator of the consolidation effort, which aims to create a single "superagency" from the Las Vegas, Clark County and North Las Vegas housing authorities, one that will be among the largest public housing agencies in the nation.

To get to this initial meeting took a change in state law, the support of local politicians, and a whole lot of negotiating.

"This is a perfect example of what Clark County can do," County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani said. "You will be the leader of the pack," she said, a model for other agencies considering consolidation.

The regional housing agency, which must be completed by January according to state law, will have a $113 million budget, employ 250 people, and manage about 3,000 public housing units and nearly 9,000 Section 8 vouchers, which can be used to rent housing.

How the programs, employees and facilities will be combined still must be resolved.

The board chose Commissioner Dora LaGrande as chair, Brenda Williams as vice-chair, and as expected, the board chose as the agency's interim director Carl Rowe, who, since 2006, has led the Las Vegas Housing Authority.

Contact reporter Lynnette Curtis at lcurtis or 702-383-0285.