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Posted on Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 6:37 p.m.

Ypsilanti Housing Commission chooses new executive director

By Katrease Stafford

The Ypsilanti Housing Commission has chosen its new executive director to lead it out of troubled status, said board President Deborah Strong.


Zachary Fosler

From LinkedIn

The board picked Zachary Fosler, the executive director for the Gallia Metropolitan Housing Authority in Bidwell, Ohio.

He oversees and directs all housing authority personnel and operations, including public housing and housing choice vouchers.

As director, Fosler prepares and manages an annual agency budget of $1.5 million. During his time as director, Fosler closed a $150,000 annual budget gap and ended the following fiscal year with a $40,000 surplus.

Strong said all of the applicants had seemingly strong backgrounds in housing. Strong said the commission received nearly 40 applications.

"I don't think we could have gone wrong with any of them," Strong said. "There were certain things that made this a better fit. One of the things we were impressed by is he brought a kind of energy and he has a background in innovation."

Strong said the board and the panels, which consisted of community members and local officials, were struck by how Fosler made a transition from the corporate world to the service field.

"He found a way to marry his business background with commitment to people and this was his way by going this route with housing," Strong said.

A start date and salary have yet to be figured out for Fosler, but the commission, along with its attorney David Blanchard are in the process of hammering out the details.

"Where we are right now, we have given him a conditional offer and we're still working on putting together his employment package," Strong said. "He needs to give adequate time for his agency to start the process of replacing him. Hopefully we can put something in writing this week."

Previous director Walter Norris had an annual salary of $105,686.88.

"We have less money now than when Mr. Norris was here," Strong said. "That's going to be a factor of discussion. That is part of the negotiations."

Strong estimates Fosler may start somewhere between six to eight weeks from the time of him signing a contract, since he has to move to the area from Ohio.

Strong said one challenge facing the new director as he moves forward is addressing the goals outlined in the recovery agreement created by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

"We also need an ambassador to the community to make connections with the chamber, community organizations, connect with faith-based groups and other housing organizations," Strong said. "We need to do some more outreach in a real positive kind of way and become actively involved in the housing issues that are not just affecting us, but all families (in Washtenaw County) as it relates to homelessness and poverty."

Strong said she is confident that Fosler will be able to lead the commission in the right direction.

"I think it speaks volumes that all of the panels spoke very highly of him and so did our council people," she said. "There's a really good feeling about this one and I think he can bring something good to this community."

Katrease Stafford covers Ypsilanti for her at or 734-623-2548 and follow her on twitter.


Ray Schmidt

Sun, Mar 3, 2013 : 8:49 p.m.

I just had to post to comment on Zach. We finished our Masters program last year, having spent two years working together on an assortment of projects and research. I'm of a slightly older vintage than Zach, and I have to say that it was inspiring to me and some of the other older students to work with a young man as capable and passionate as Zach. He is incredibly smart and creative, but still can maintain that balance between being deliberate with a budget, yet understanding of the needs of a family. Zach will serve you well - congratulations on a great pick! Ray Schmidt Lancaster, Ohio


Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 5:24 p.m.

I am encouraged by the use of the word "innovation" in regard to Mr. Fosler's experience in his current job. It's what Ypsi needs in a BIG way--innovation and imagination. So that bodes well for the city. Welcome to Ypsilanti, Mr. Fosler, and don't be put off by the nasty comments about the city that are posted regularly by people who have nothing better to do with their lives than put others' down.


Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 3:11 p.m.

Can the board fire Temple? That would make Fosler's first day a bit easier.


Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 1:46 p.m.

"I don't think we could have gone wrong with any of them," Didn't Temple apply for the job? That would have been a bad decision. Hopefully Mr. Fosler knows how to fire people.

Katrease Stafford

Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 4:37 p.m.

Ahi, Temple did apply for the job. He was not among the three finalists though. Until Fosler's contract is finalized and a start date is set, it is my understanding Temple will remain as the interim director. It's not entirely clear yet as to how staffing may be configured after that.


Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 12:18 p.m.

So how long until we can get rid of the convicted felon currently running the Housing commission? You know, Eric Temple, who was hired and brought here from Texas by Walter Norris to help him manage public money, despite his felony conviction which he never disclosed during his hiring process? The guy who got paid vacation from the city of Ypsi for serving time in a Texas jail for a crime of moral turpitude, good ol' Eric Temple, current head of YHC and protege of Walter Norris. You know, Walter Norris, the guy who USED to run the Ypsi Housing Commission, the guy who ran it right into the ground and conveniently retired the SAME DAY a HUD report came out saying a bunch of money was "unaccounted for"? I have a serious problem with convicted felons getting paid such a large salary by the public, especialy when they are linked to such a shady figure as Walter Norris. Give Eric Temple the boot ASAP and put someone who is not a convicted criminal in charge.

Ypsi Eastsider

Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 3:34 a.m.

Watch they will still pay the guy $85,000 a year because he has to make more than Eric Temple.

Ypsi Eastsider

Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 3:32 a.m.

Part of his compensation package should require him to live in public housing for the first year and he doesn't get a car or vehicle allowance.


Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 8:03 a.m.

I would go alone with simply living within the City of Ypsilanti. Hold yer breath!


Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 3:15 a.m.

first, he looks like a reasonable choice and I would have to think that his salary requirements have already been part of the discussion. I would consider that there is significantly LESS responsibility given the loss of programming. And I have to think that Mr. Temple's salary (he will be let go right?) might easy up the money shortage. I wish Mr. Fosler the very best of luck. I might even pledge my support should those board meetings actually be on a regular basis and announced in a way where the public might have a change to attend.

Ypsi Eastsider

Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 3:33 a.m.

Mr. Temple isn't going anywhere.


Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 11:53 p.m.

I hope the Ypsilanti community will afford Zach the time to get its housing in order. There is so much that needs to be done, yet, at the same time, the critics keep up their drumfire. Give Zach a sufficient "honeymoon period" before you re-new your attacks. And hey! If the young man delivers, don't attack; give him a pat on the back! Take him to lunch at Haab's. Be nice to your civil servants . . .