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Albert Lea HRA executive director turns in resignation

Albert Lea Housing and Redevelopment Authority Executive Director Jon Ford announced his resignation Wednesday.

His last day is scheduled for June 30. Ford, who recently married, plans to live near Alexandria on a permanent basis. He has been commuting to Albert Lea on a part-time basis.

John Ford

“I am proud of the work that we accomplished over the last 16 years,” he said in a press release. “It is a credit to my staff, the city and county governments, nonprofits, tenants and the community.”

During Ford’s tenure, the HRA administered Small Cities Development Program grants and collaborated in the creation of the Rock the Block initiative, a drive that included the rehabilitation of more than 40 homes.

Ford said he collaborated with United Way of Freeborn County Executive Director Ann Austin and Jim Troe of the AZ-One organization to ensure the event took place.

“We all kind of sat down and brainstormed one time and came up with the idea of Rocking the Block and doing it as like a week of giving back to the community and folks in the community,” Ford said. “And, in particular, focused on rehab of housing for lower-income families, and it was a pretty effective project.” 

Ford managed the Minnesota Cities Participation mortgage program, designed for first-time homebuyers in partnership with local banks for Freeborn County.

The HRA was the “driving force” behind housing studies completed in 2006, 2014 and 2017, according to the city.

Ford estimated there has been about $25 million to $30 million of community impact in housing and the economy since 2006. He estimated the HRA has assisted in the rehabilitation of approximately 140 owner-occupied homes over the last several years.

Ford also worked with Freeborn County on a flood mitigation program in Hollandale and other community development projects and programs in the city.

“I think we’ve had a good impact on the community,” he said.

The HRA board has formed a search committee and is expected to begin compiling a job description and profile to fill the position.

Ford said he enjoyed his time in the community.

“It’s a good community,” he said. “I’ve made a lot of good friends here and worked with some good, professional people.”

Ford expects to continue to help house animals for an animal shelter in the Alexandria area and has not decided on where he will work.

Ford called it a “pleasure” to work with other community groups.

“We’ve got a terrific board, terrific staff members, and we’ve had a good relationship with local governments,” he said. “We’ve worked with a lot of local nonprofits. It’s just been a pleasure working with them all. And without them all there, we really can’t accomplish anything, so any success I’ve had has been direct correlation to the successes that those people helped us make.”

Albert Lea Mayor Vern Rasmussen Jr. said Ford “has been a pleasure to work with,” and has a solid knowledge of the city’s housing. Rasmussen cited Ford’s work with the Small Cities Development Program and Rock the Block.

“He’s done a great job,” Rasmussen said.

About Sam Wilmes

Sam Wilmes covers crime, courts and government for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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