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Â 78 Walden Ave
New London, Connecticut,06320
"I do think they've made a difference," said Sue Shontell, executive director of the New London Housing Authority, which manages the apartment building.
"We love having them there,'' said Sue Shontell, executive director of the New London Housing Authority, which runs Thames River.
Sue Shontell the bastion of New London agency as it undergoes transition
Sue Shontell, executive director of the New London Housing Authority, takes a phone call in her New London office. New London - Sue Shontell is in her office at the New London Housing Authority, fielding questions. Shontell, appointed executive director of the New London Housing Authority last week after 14 months as acting director, takes the reins of an agency in transition. Shontell succeeds Joseph A. Abrams, who resigned in the summer of 2009 amid accusations of fiscal mismanagement. Shontell said she hesitated only briefly before taking the job. On this rainy Tuesday morning, Shontell is behind her desk signing time sheets and reviewing overtime requests. "We always kid Sue and say if we had a reality TV show, all our financial problems would be solved." "It was a meds thing,'' Shontell said. Another day, Shontell opened the side door of the office for a cigarette break and a horse was standing on the other side of the parking lot. And the 49-year-old Shontell, who has worked here since 2003, knows it well. She manages the residences of 1,600 elderly and disabled people and members of working poor families, who live in 735 units of housing across the city. She deals with those who get arrested and must be evicted, and tenants who don't pay their bills and lose utility service. Refrigerators break down. Toilets back up. Shontell also helped in the final negotiations with Carabetta for a $48 million deal to renovate and manage 302 moderate-income housing units at Bates Woods and Briarcliff. The board unanimously opted to keep its management and praised Shontell for addressing and fixing many of the agency's systemic problems. Back in her hometown Shontell graduated from New London High School in 1979. Her first job was as a cashier at the A&P grocery store on Broad Street, where her parents had met and also worked. Her mother, who is now 87, predated cash registers there. She would jot down the cost of grocery items on a brown bag and add up the numbers in her head. In 1981, Shontell joined the Navy and went to air traffic control school. But she found she didn't like the isolation of the control tower. She preferred to be among people. She stayed in the service for five years and left only because, in the early 1980s, opportunities for women were limited. She wanted to serve on an aircraft carrier but women were not allowed on ships. She remained in San Diego for 15 years and worked as a subcontractor for the Navy. She returned to the area 15 years ago, she says, because "I'm an only child and my parents were getting old." She landed the job at the housing authority in 2003, after working at Pfizer Inc., the Naval Undersea Warfare Center, Analysis & Technology and Habitat for Humanity. She began as a clerk, because she needed a job, and worked her way up through the organization. Margaret Reyes, a former member of the authority who was on the board when Shontell was hired, said Shontell has come a long way in seven years. It's just after 9:30 a.m. when Carrion, the manager of elderly housing, interrupts Shontell to tell her a man who has been banned from 202 Colman St. is in the building. Shontell pockets her cell phone and stands.
New London - Sue Shontell, acting director of the New London Housing authority for more than a year, was appointed permanent director on Tuesday.
The Housing Authority unanimously named Shontell, a New London native, to the position during its monthly board meeting at Riozzi Court elderly housing project. "It's been a very interesting year, and you've brought us through that quite well,'' said Chairman David Collins. Shontell, 49, took over as acting director in July 2009, replacing Joseph A. Abrams, who went out on sick leave in June 2009 and resigned in August 2009. The executive director's salary is listed in the 2010-11 budget at $75,752, but Shontell and the authority have yet to negotiate her salary. But during the past 14 months, Shontell has managed to redirect $380,000 in federal stimulus money that was supposed to be used for playground equipment and parking lots to more essential needs like buying new hot water heaters and upgrading elevators. She set up a payment plan with Northeast Utilities and recommended the authority adopt an internal controls policy that spells out guidelines for housing staff that will safeguard assets, verify the accuracy of accounting data and ensure that all policies are in compliance with federal and state regulations. In August HUD sent the authority a letter saying management had improved and left the decision of whether or not to hire an outside management company up to the five-member board. The board unanimously opted to keep its management and praised Shontell for addressing and fixing many of the agency's systemic problems. During her tenure as acting director, Shontell also helped in the final negotiations for a ground lease with Carabetta Organization for a $48 million deal to renovate and then manage 302 moderate-income housing units at Bates Woods and Briarcliff.
Sue Shontell (New London) Director of Operations, New London Housing Authority