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History of Bolivar Housing Authority

In 1937, the federal government became officially involved with public housing under the United States Housing Act. This act truly came out of President Roosevelt's New Deal which started in 1933. The goal of this act was to improve the current unsafe and unsanitary housing conditions and to lessen the extreme shortage of decent housing for low-income families.

A road with houses in the distance.

The purpose for organizing the public housing authority was due to a finding of unsanitary and unsafe inhabited dwellings within the City of Bolivar and ten miles outside the city limits; that the Commissioners reside within the City of Bolivar.

The first meeting of the Board of Commissioners was on October 7, 1958. Present at the meeting, appointed by Mayor Marion Creekmore, was Harlan Thomas (Chairperson), Vincent Black (Secretary), Mahlon Brown, John V. Anderson, L.B. Wimberley, and later John V. Anderson. The mayor was Marion Creekmore, and the City Clerk and Secretary/Treasurer was M.G. Isbell. 

A dirt road with houses in the background.

In 1959 Mayor Thomas was elected and was replaced by L. Mecoy Ross; Mahlon Brown was voted as Chairperson.

In April 1960 Judge M.L. Alphin was the first official Secretary and Executive Director, and the next ED was Lenora Hazelgrove starting about March 1961. She was Executive Director until March 1, 1964, when L.A. Shappley was hired.

In May 1973 Bolivar Housing Authority and the United States Department of HUD entered into an agreement to develop another 68 units of public housing, Project number 50-3, called Hatchie Haven and Chickasaw Village. 

A group of houses in a neighborhood.

L.A. Shappley was executive director until March 1978, when the Board of Directors appointed Billy Muse. The Board of Directors included John V. Anders, Vincent Black, Mecoy Ross, Frank Dorris, and Joe West Williams.

In June 1979, the HUD Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity Division sent a letter to the Bolivar Housing Authority noting that there had been no minority represented on the Board of Commissioners. The Board of Commissioners was appointed by the City of Bolivar Mayor. A meeting was held with the mayor to address this issue. 

In October 1979 Commissioner Joe West Williams term expired and the mayor appointed Mr. J.L. Ferguson was the first African American Commissioner. 

Billy Muse remained Executive Director until December 1985 when he unexpectedly died. The next Executive Director was Billy Byrum.

A road covered in snow with houses and trees in the background.

Billy Byrum remained executive director until March 2003 when he retired. The Board of Commissioners then appointed Michael A. Miller, the first African American Executive Director, as his replacement. The Board of Commissioners at the time of Michael Miller's appointment were Jerome Boyd (Chairperson), Norman Vance (Vice-Chairman), Angie Farris, Robert Parham, and Carolyn Beauregard.

As of January 1, 2020, the Bolivar Housing Authority Board of Commissioners include Eva Reynolds (Chairperson), Jesse Williams (Vice-Chairperson), Judith Shackelford, Robert Parham, and Lavera Wilkes.