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Louisville mayor picks ‘rising star’ to lead embattled housing authority

Person in pink blazer speaks to person in camoflauge jacket
Roberto Roldan
/
LPM
Louisville Mayor Craig Greenberg selected Elizabeth Strojan to lead the city's public housing authority.

Mayor Craig Greenberg announced Wednesday that Elizabeth Strojan will be the next executive director of the Louisville Metro Housing Authority. Strojan is currently an executive at the New York City Housing Development Corporation, the nation’s largest affordable housing agency.

Greenberg called Strojan, who is a Louisville native and Jefferson County Public Schools graduate, “a rising star.” She’ll start as LMHA’s executive director in January, taking over from Lisa Osanka, who is retiring following criticism of her management of the agency. LMHA is a quasi-governmental organization that oversees nearly 16,000 affordable housing units in Jefferson County and administers thousands of Section 8 vouchers.

At a press conference Wednesday, Greenberg said access to affordable housing is “one of the most urgent challenges our city is facing” and he is confident Strojan has the experience to address it.

“Safe, affordable, quality housing is a basic human need,” he said. “It’s the foundation for everything else in life. It’s a need that is going unmet, or inadequately met, for far too many people in Louisville.”

Strojan is taking over the reins of LMHA at a critical time for the organization.

The housing authority has faced sharp criticism from residents and some Metro Council members over the living conditions in the properties it owns, with some calling LMHA a slumlord. One public housing complex, Dosker Manor, has failed multiple federally mandated inspections. Residents complain about mold, bed bugs and other maintenance issues that they say go unaddressed.

Strojan said she has not toured any of LMHA’s properties but it’s one of the first things she plans to do. She said she’s already spoken with officials at LMHA and elected leaders about the problems facing the organization.

“I have heard loud and clear how important it is for LMHA to focus on the basics, to be a good landlord,” she said. “And we have to walk and chew gum at the same time. We have to take every opportunity to bring in new funds, to make new partnerships, to make sure LMHA is truly a place that people are proud to call home.”

Strojan also outlined other “big challenges” facing LMHA: decades of underfunding from the federal government, aging buildings and a tight housing market. But Strojan said those issues aren’t unique to Louisville — they’re problems facing every public housing agency in the country.

“As we assess what resources we have and what resources we need, I also want to make sure we’re tapping into those national networks and that we’re learning from best practices and mistakes made at other housing authorities,” she said.

Strojan said she thinks she has a unique perspective as an “inside-outsider,” and she hopes she can bring expertise from other housing authorities to Louisville.

Roberto Roldan is the City Politics and Government Reporter for WFPL. Email Roberto at rroldan@lpm.org.