ORANGE, NJ - Coram Rimes, Chair of the Housing Authority of the City of Orange Commissioners, travels halfway around the world recently to find that the concerns and issues facing housing authorities are universal.
Rimes was one of a group of 10 American Public Housing Representatives who recently traveled to Australia to attend National Association for Housing and Redevelopment Officers Annual Conference.
“The conference was comprised of all housing authorities throughout the world,” remarked Rimes. “It was good to meet various housing professionals and to understand some of the housing concerns and initiatives that were in Australia.”
Rimes, who paid out-of-pocket for the trip, felt the effort was well worth it. “I thought this was important. I have been a Housing Commissioner since 2008 and Chair for the last four years, and an instructor with Rutgers School of Government. I feel the experience outweighed the financial outlay.
“It was a worthwhile trip for me. It was an eye-opener. It gave me a different perspective that I didn’t have before. It is important that all housing authorities come together and exchange ideas.”
Although Rimes discovered he shared many of the concerns, such as homelessness, lack of affordable housing, and infrastructure problems, as those in Australia, he found their approach to these issues was different. “In some respects, I feel they are more proactive with housing. They actually have a certain amount of money put aside for senior citizens and people who need housing.
“What I see is that in Australia, they seem to be more organized in terms of government and their approach to housing. I think in the United States, we need a more concerted effort by all the government and communities to provide adequate and decent housing. It is not important who gets the credit for it. It is important that it gets done and that it serves the people. We need to ensure that adequate affordable housing and ensure that people have a way of paying for that in terms of subsidies.”
Future plans were also shared by the other housing authorities. Rimes found that some other agencies in the United States and around the world are trying to plan and focus on the problems before they become a huge problem. “To me, that is the best way to put a fire out, to assess the needs and to evaluate what must occur, and to start working toward finding the resources and the locations. It is not an issue for one area or one individual People need to understand that work toward a solution.”
After meeting with housing authority representatives from all over the United States and aboard, how does Rimes think the Orange Housing Authority measures up? “We are consistent in what we do. I am not saying we are the best in game, but we stand out above most housing authorities. That’s not bragging. That’s a fact. That’s a testament by the rating that we got for the last five years. It’s a testament to the Executive Director and his staff. It is a small staff of 19 people, but we certainly do a lot. They certainly give it their all and make things happen. The staff puts their best foot forth at all times.”
About the Orange Housing Authority
The City of Orange Housing Authority works to transform the City of Orange by providing safe, livable and affordable housing that promotes the development of communities. At the Orange Housing Authority, participants are not statistics, they are neighbors. The OHA knows the community and tailors programs to better serve the participant’s needs. Whether it is a search for housing, assistance with foreclosure or neighborhood development, the Orange Housing Authority stands ready to offer its services to all residents.