Best in state

Celebrating the recognition of Menomonie’s Memorial Heights Apartments as the best in Wisconsin are, from left to right: City Administrator Lowell Prange; State Senator Sheila Harsdorf; Assemblyman Rob Stafsholt; Menomonie Housing Authority Executive Director Rebecca Kralewsk; Congressional Aide Mark Aumann from Representative Ron Kind’s office; and Menomonie Mayor Randy Knaack.

Memorial Heights Apartments, owned and managed by Housing Authority of the City of Menomonie (HACOM), has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Rural Development as the 2017 Wisconsin Multi-Family Project of the Year.

Memorial Heights provides quality affordable housing to low income elderly and disabled persons in Dunn County. Constructed in 1965, the building’s original purpose was a nursing home attached to Memorial Hospital. When the hospital was placed out of service in 1980 and subsequently demolished, the nursing home facility remained on the site.

In 1986, the Menomonie Housing Authority obtained Farmers Home Administration loan funds for the purchase and renovation of the building to convert it to 26 units of affordable housing, including 14 rental assistance units.

The property has been the recipient of WHEDA grant funds to complete accessibility improvements to the property and has applied to WHEDA again for 2017 funding to continue to improve accessibility in the well-maintained property that boasts a 12-month vacancy rate of only 2.4 percent.

HACOM is governed by a five-member board. Led by president Peter Nied, they include Pat Fiege, Maria Varsho, Gary Messerschmidt and Paul Scherman.

As executive director, Rebecca Kralewski has managed the property since 1995 and is responsible for 149 units of affordable housing in the City of Menomonie in addition to assisting with two other developments with a combined unit total of 42. She also provides assistance to other local Rural Development owners with property management.

Kralewski has implemented and developed innovative programs to enhance housing and economic empowerment opportunities for residents and the community. Under her direction, the Housing Authority has been the recipient of various weatherization grants and grants from The WHEDA Foundation, Inc.

Kralewski is an active member of National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (and a board member of its Northwest Central Regional Council), Public Housing Authorities Directors Association, and is currently president of the Wisconsin Association of Housing Authorities (WAHA).

Including Kralewski, there are four employees who handle 150 units of affordable housing in the city.

For the past 30 years, Brian Evan has served as maintenance supervisor and oversees all of the procurement and maintenance needs. Describing him as a dedicated employee who is attentive to tenant needs, Kralewski said, “Brian has maintained our parking lots in the coldest of winters and our grounds in sweltering weather. ... Our tenants are fortunate to have him.”

Administrative assistant Kathy Mikla oversees 148 tenant files/households along with the many day-to-day tasks in HACOM’s busy property management office. “Kathy and I work together as a team in all of our family scatter sites, elderly, disabled and general housing stock,” Kralewski explained.

The newest member of HACOM’s team is maintenance technician Jeff Parish who is responsible for all unit turnovers, assisting with many tasks like lawn mowing, grounds overview and building upkeep. “He is learning the ropes of government property management as there are a lot of rules and regulation that apply,” Kralewski said.

The success of the affordable housing project that has assisted more than 210 households since its dedication in 1986, she adds, depends on another factor: “Memorial Heights is blessed with a few tenants that go above and beyond and help keep our property clean and inviting.”

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Dunn County News Editor

Barbara Lyon is the editor of The Dunn County News in Menomonie, WI.

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