In 1938 a group of concerned citizens faced the problems of the recent destruction of housing by the 1937 flood, the large number of substandard rental housing units in our area and the employment of idle building trade artisans. A recently passed bill by the U.S. Congress, the U.S. Housing Act of 1937 seemed to address these community problems. Also, the Ohio State Legislature recently amended the state housing laws to bring them in line with the newly enacted federal statutes. This gave broader power to local housing authorities and enabled them to avail themselves to federal funds.
These concerned citizens set to work to form a local housing authority. After many meetings and discussions, the governing body was appointed according to state statute. These persons were to be residents of the area of operation. The Mayor of the largest city (Portsmouth) appointed two members; the County Commissioners one member; the Common Pleas Court one member; and the Probate Court one member.
The first board members were:
Elmer C. Brown
Wholesaler, Midland Grocery Company
Dr. S.D. Ruggles
Reverend William F. Connolly
Pastor, Holy Redeemer Church
Representative of American Federation of Labor
Dr. Noble E. Lett
Dentist, New Boston
The first board meeting of the newly formed authority was held August 1, 1938 in the Midland Grocery Company office. The Constitution and the By-laws of the Portsmouth Metropolitan Housing Authority (PMHA) were adopted at this time. Elmer G. Brown was elected Chairman and Reverend William F. Connolly as Vice Chairman.
In September of 1938 PMHA requested and was granted a loan from the City of Portsmouth in the amount of $1,000 for two years at 3% interest for “obtaining certain data” concerning housing conditions in the Cities of Portsmouth and New Boston, Ohio and for the presentation thereof to the United States Housing Authority in Washington, D.C.
In October of 1938, O.Y. Coriell was employed as the first full time Director. In November of 1938 Mary Stockham was employed as stenographer.
The first housing that was made available by the newly formed PMHA was 260 units at Wayne Hills which were first occupied in October of 1941 and 135 units at Farley Square first occupied in August of 1942.
Today, as in the past concerned citizens who form the board of PMHA meet once each month or more often when needed. Members serve without pay.
The PMHA board meets the third Tuesday of each month at 610 Fifth Street (Hudson House Community Room) in Portsmouth, Ohio at 6:00 p.m. Board meetings are open to the public.