La Joya Housing Authority welcomes two new board members

LA JOYA — Two new board members were sworn in to the La Joya Housing Authority last month, and a third is expected within a few weeks.

German Reyna, a teacher at Benito Juarez – Abraham Lincoln High, was sworn in Friday while Sylvia Garces Valdez, also a teacher with the La Joya school district came on board in mid-December.

Mayor Jose “Fito” Salinas appointed the two members and said within a few weeks they will hopefully have a special meeting to fill the last open seat on the five-member board. That position must be held by someone who is a tenant of the housing authority, Salinas said.

“I think they’re very capable persons, and I think that they do care for the housing authority tenants,” Salinas said of the two appointees. “Both are educated people and they’ve lived in La Joya for a while; I think they’re the best at this point.”

Two of those vacancies stemmed from board members moving away. The third, however, became available after then board member Reynaldo Acosta was elected to the La Joya City Council in November.

Aside from the board of directors, the housing authority operates under a director. The current director is Frances Salinas De Leon — the mayor’s daughter and formerly the board chairperson — who replaced Juan Jose “J.J.” Garza.

Garza, the former housing authority director, was terminated after being federally indicted in connection with a bid-rigging scheme through a company not associated with the housing authority.

“I think the housing authority now is moving in the right direction and hopefully we can go ahead and provide the right living facilities for all the authorities’ tenants,” the mayor said.

The La Joya Housing Authority is a Section 8 public housing agency overseen by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Salinas said he was hopeful it would receive more funds from HUD to build more apartments and renovate the ones they have now.

“The ones we have now are over 30 years old,” he said. “We’re hoping that with the new leadership that we have, we can move forward in a better direction for the tenants.”