Fort Worth Housing Solutions names Lemons as new president

The Fort Worth Housing Solutions (FWHS) five-member Board of Commissioners selected interim president Mary-Margaret Lemons to lead the agency charged with providing affordable housing in the city at a Thursday board meeting.

Lemons, the general counsel for the organization, was appointed to the interim position May 4 after the commissioners declined April 27 to renew the expiring three-year contract of Naomi Byrne, hired with much fanfare in 2014.

Commission Chair Terri Attaway said the board was “excited to announce Mary Margaret Lemons has accepted the position of President/CEO of Fort Worth Housing Solutions.”

“Lemons has been working as interim for six months, and has done a great job during this time,” Attaway said. “The board and executive staff look forward to working together with Lemons in continuing our mission to provide quality, acessible, affordable housing to our residents throughout the city of Fort Worth.”

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The decision not to renew Bryne’s contract came as a surprise to her, she said at the time.

“I was not given any other information on what different direction the Board felt they needed to go in for FWHS,” Byrne said.

Attaway said at the time in a news release that the commissioners were “proud of the accomplishments and progress made in the last three years under Ms. Byrne’s leadership.”

“We have a solid strategic plan, which includes working with all of our stakeholders to continue providing affordable housing in Fort Worth,” Attaway said.

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FWHS is actively participating in a Department of Housing and Urban Development initiative called the Rental Assistance Demonstration Program.

The idea is to encourage housing programs to move away from the traditional model of concentrated public housing and to focus instead on scattered housing sites that include all income levels either paying market rates on their own or with assistance from programs like Section 8 vouchers.

Attaway described it as an opportunity to move from the business of public housing to the affordable housing business.

Key to that is the development of the historic Butler Place once the residents there have been moved into other housing. Once that is done, and the federal government agrees, the FWHS is free to develop or sell the land and use that money to build or buy other housing stock in the city.