After chairman resigns: Vogel appointed to Darien Housing Authority

A view of the current Old Town Hall Homes showing the outside staircases. - Susan Shultz photo
A view of the current Old Town Hall Homes showing the outside staircases. — Susan Shultz photo

CORRECTION: The original comment from First Selectman Jayme Stevenson on this matter was incorrectly paraphrased. Here is her accurate quote as per what was emailed to The Darien Times on Oct. 10.

“Chairman Jan Raymond’s term on the Darien Housing Authority expired on 6/30/15.  The DTC had other candidates interested in the Housing Authority position.  The Board of Selectmen would interview all interested candidates.  Instead of going through that process, Jan decided to resign.  The Town of Darien owes Jan a debt of gratitude for her long service on the Darien Housing Authority and we welcome Susan Vogel to the DHA.”

8 a.m. — The Board of Selectmen has appointed Democrat Susan Vogel to the Darien Housing Authority for a three-year term through June 30, 2020, replacing former chairman Jan Raymond. The Housing Authority is a local commission that works to provide affordable housing options. The DHA currently manages two affordable housing complexes, The Heights at Darien, located on Allen O’Neill Drive, and the Old Town Hall Houses, on Post Road.

Vogel previously volunteered her time as a local education advocate, serving as the co-chair of the Council of Darien School Parents and more recently as a board member of the Reiss Fund, a nonprofit organization supporting Darien’s teachers. With one child now in college and another completing their senior year in high school, Vogel told the Times she is a strong proponent of affordable housing and was looking for new ways to contribute to the town.

Raymond has been on the commission for about a decade, overseeing a major redevelopment of The Heights at Allen O’Neill Drive that was completed in 2012, and working to earn approvals for a new facility at the Old Town Hall Houses. As a part of that project the existing six buildings of OTHH will be demolished and replaced with a single building. The new building will add 20 affordable apartments for seniors along with important quality of life upgrades for current residents.

Raymond joined the housing authority in 2007 after an upheaval in membership.

In January of 2007, chairman Anne Lynn, Susan Kostin and Janet Evans, citing interference at the time from then-First Selectman Evonne Klein in the first attempt to redevelop the former Allen O’Neill Homes, now The Heights.

At the time, the property was being evaluated to maximize the amount of affordable housing that could be put there. Current tenants said their concerns were not being addressed and relations between them and the Housing Authority were strained.

It took five weeks for the Housing Authority to regain its quorum. In early March of 2007, the Board of Selectmen appointed two Republicans, Joe Warren and Jenny Schwartz, and Democrat Jan Raymond. Schwartz served as chairman before Raymond until 2011 when she resigned.

The DHA was recently granted a 40-year tax abatement for the new OTHH building along with $360,000 from the town’s affordable housing trust fund to be used towards construction. Development of the project is being handled by the JHM Group, the same group that partnered with the DHA for The Heights at Allen O’Neill. The DHA has stated that the demolition and construction of the new building will take approximately 18-months and they are working to relocate OTHH’s current senior residents for the full length of the project.

Raymond did not respond to requests for comment.