Gene Bell has announced his retirement as Executive Director of the Asheville Housing Authority after 14 years in the post.
A native of rural Kentucky, Bell graduated from Xavier University in Ohio, where he earned a degree in Business Management. Upon moving to North Carolina he was employed with IBM for over 20 years, and was the owner of a construction company before relocating to Asheville.
Bell joined the Asheville Housing Authority in 1994 as Director of Maintenance and Construction and was appointed Chief Executive Officer of the Asheville Housing Authority and Executive Director of Brevard Housing Authority in October 2005. He developed a reputation for using a no-nonsense attitude and his business management training to keep the organization on track.
“We have a high priority to serve Extremely Low Income (ELI) families, with incomes below the federal poverty rate of 30% of the Area Median Income (AMI); and most of our housing residents fall into that category. This coupled with a growing trend of people entering and leaving the city on a daily basis partially due to a lack of affordable housing is very concerning to me. We collaborate with local and state agencies to provide a safe and healthy environments for all our residents,” said Bell.
The Asheville Housing Authority is the largest landlord in western North Carolina, with approximately 2000 people on the waiting list for subsidized housing. Local funds already approved by the City of Asheville and Buncombe County total $8.4 million, with each local government having committed $4.2 million, toward replacing the city’s oldest subsidized development, Lee-Walker Heights, over the coming years. The project is expected to employ over 500 workers during the 18-24 month construction period; when completed, the new community will provide safe, affordable homes for 212 families and individuals. Among the green components will be high-efficiency heating systems and lighting fixtures, low-flow plumbing fixtures, and Energy Star appliances.
In addition to his role at the Housing Authority, Bell served on the Asheville City School Board for eight years, including six as chair; as President of the North Carolina Housing Authority (NCHA) Directors Association; as a trustee for the NC Housing Authority Risk and Retention Pool (NCHARRP); and on the boards of Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College and the Buncombe County Planning Board.
Raynetta C. Waters, a Housing Authority board member, congratulated Bell on his long and successful career in public housing.
“He is a true friend. Mr. Bell cares for and is a champion for being supportive of his friends, employees of the Housing Authority, and the community of Asheville. I am happy for Mr. Bell and congratulate him on his new retirement. I know this new chapter in his life will be filled with fun, relaxation and happiness,” she said.