As of last Monday, Paul Russell has taken the reins of the Merrill Housing Authority (MHA). A native of Merrill, Russell recently returned to his hometown after serving 31 years in the military. As he explains, some of his recent experience in the US Army is what led to his decision in applying for the position.
“In places like Cambodia and Afghanistan, I saw the impact of under housed and homelessness for families and children,” he said. “To me, it’s one of the fundamental human necessities that must be available to all.
“Our mission at the Merrill Housing Authority focuses on that for the elderly, handicapped, and low income citizens,” he added.
Russell served on the VA Homelessness Task Force and organized veteran initiatives with the local VFW Post in Merrill. This was his initial contact with the residents at the various housing facilities in Merrill.
“Veterans are a special class of men and women. But I have found the city of Merrill is made up of special people across the board,” he added. “The revolving door with this critical leadership position has been closed. I plan to bring leadership, accountability and stability to the organization and most importantly, the customer tenants of our housing units. These are dynamic times for the MHA and the agenda will be busy for the next several years.
“There are a number of near term maintenance and modernization projects planned for Jenny Towers starting with the parking lot renovation upgrade this spring,” the former Army Colonel adds. “Jenny Towers and the remote housing sites have numerous renovations planned every year through fiscal year 2019. In addition, there are several major projects on the horizon starting with a conversion/new construction project at Park Place. If tax credit funding is approved, we would have the first new housing project built since 1979 for the Merrill Housing Authority. With the plans in place the capability of the MHA will be greater to serve our residents, accomplish our mission and posture the organization for growth.”
Russell brings a wealth of leadership and management skills to his new position, and credits his lengthy military service for such, as a senior commissioned officer.
In addition Russell brings planning, project management and budget experience from the private and non-profit sector. He has successfully managed over $100 million in construction and project management for both the government and private sectors, since 2007.
“I originally applied for the job because I saw the opportunity to work with a segment of the Merrill community I had positive experiences with and wanted to do more to assist them,” Russell said. “With the help of a highly skilled staff at the MHA and community organizations support, we will accomplish the mission statement of our organization. In addition, I couldn’t resist the challenge of the new projects on the horizon for the Merrill Housing Authority.”
Russell replaces Russ Grefe, who resigned in January for personal reasons, after a few weeks in the position.
Paul Russell can be contacted at the Merrill Housing Authority office, at 715-536-7386.