Hope Housing Authority Commission fires Executive Director Leola Graves after HUD finds 'deficiencies'

Today at 5:00 p.m. the Hope Housing Authority Board of Commissioners held a meeting in which a majority of the commissioners, including the president, voted to end Leola Graves’ tenure as Executive Director.

The vote was taken, as Vice President of the Commission Beckie Moore (presiding in the absence of President of the Commission Sam Bradford) stated before the vote, due to a report from the Department of Housing and Urban Development that found deficiencies in the way the Housing Authority is being run.

During the meeting, which took place using the Zoom virtual meeting software, the motion was made by Moore to end Graves’ employment: “In light of the response from HUD pertaining to the Hope Housing Authority deficiencies, and in order to do our due diligence to protect this agency, I'm making the motion to relieve director Leola Graves from her duties as the director of the house Housing Authority effective immediately.”

Commissioner Stephani Espinoza seconded. There was no discussion and the voice vote was 3-0 with Commissioner Kim Hollis and Vice President of the Commission Moore voting yes. The two other members of the commission were not present.

After the vote, Moore said a vote of that nature was not easy, but that the commission’s role was  “to make sure the authority runs as it should, for the city of Hope and for the residents who reside there.”

City Manager J.R. Wilson and former City Manager Catherine Cook were both in attendance of the Zoom meeting. Cook said it was clear to her the commissioners had taken the action based on good information and reflected that the commissioners had been supported by the city’s current and former administration.

After the meeting adjourned, Moore was asked if the deficiencies identified by HUD could be revealed.  “We have to get permission from HUD in order to do so,” she said. “That shouldn't take too long tomorrow to hear from them. Because they need to know immediately. Since it's after hours, I'll have to wait till in the morning, I believe. They will say yes. Because there shouldn't be any reason that they could not because it's a city entity.”

CORRECTION: In a previous version of this story Vice President of the Hope Housing Authority Board of Commissioners Beckie Moore was erroneously identified as the President of the Commission. Sam Bradford holds the position of President. Moore presided over the meeting in her capacity as Vice President in the absence of President Sam Bradford.