John Hiscox to Retire From
Macon Housing Authority Executive
by Amanda Smith
John Hiscox, Executive Director of the Macon Housing Authority, is planning his retirement from the position at the end of October, 2012. After 31 years of service to the Authority, Hiscox has a few plans for what he will be doing in the future. "Everyone who knows me knows that I love the ocean," said Hiscox. "I'm sure I'll be doing some whitewater rafting and fishing with my wife. I've done a lot of training in recent years, so if someone were to ask me, I would do that; I care about Macon and its future."
A Maryland native, Hiscox received his Bachelor's Degree in History from the University of Tennessee and his Masters in History from the University of Mississippi. Upon obtaining his degrees, Hiscox served as Management Intern at the Atlanta Regional Office of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). From 1971 - 1975, he served as Community Services Advisor with the Knoxville Area Office of HUD and served in the same capacity in 1975 with the Atlanta HUD office. From 1975-1977, Hiscox was the Director of Management and Operations of the Jackson, Tennessee Housing Authority and then served as Executive Director from 1977-1981. In 1981, Hiscox began his service with the Macon Housing Authority.
Under his leadership, the MHA has developed into one of the leading Public Housing Authorities in the country. Initially, the MHA was in a troubled condition. Alienated from the community and with no support from local government or community agencies, the Authority faced overt hostility from militant resident organizations. In short order (just three years), local government had become a partner and the organization had been reorganized from the ground up, attracting support from dozens of other community agencies. Resident participation, which had once been viewed as a liability, now became an asset, with the first resident commissioner joining the Board in 1982. Hostile media were won over and have been supportive throughout the years.
In 1984, the first of many national awards was bestowed on the MHA from Keep America Beautiful and in the same year, the HUD Region Four office awarded their first ever Sustained Management Excellence Award to the MHA. When the HUD Secretary began giving similar awards, the MHA was one of only two in the country to be honored and has been every year but one since that time.
A leader in housing development, the MHA has partnered with the City of Macon and others in the public/private sector to rehabilitate sub-standard housing, beginning with the Douglas Avenue Project, believed to be the first in the country to combine Section 8, historic rehabilitation tax credits and low-income housing tax credits. The Douglas Avenue Project won numerous awards.
Under the guidance of John Hiscox, the Macon Housing Authority has assembled one of the most comprehensive single-family homeownership programs of any PHA in the United States. We have the most successful 5 (h) program in the state of Georgia, selling scattered site single-family public housing to residents. At the same time, we have partnered with the City to acquire and rehabilitate existing housing using HOPE 3 funds for sale to first time homebuyers in inner-city historic districts. The Macon Housing Authority is currently funded by the City of Macon and the Federal Home Loan Bank Board to support our development of newly constructed in-fill single-family houses in these same neighborhoods, again for first-time homebuyers. To support all of these efforts, plus those of our local government and not-for-profit development partners, the Macon Housing Authority has issued three single-family mortgage revenue bond issues totaling over $38 million, with a net creation of more than 400 new homeowners.
Perhaps the most important accomplishment of the MHA has been the restoration of the housing authority's traditional role as an engine of social and economic upward mobility for low income families.
The role of John Hiscox in changing the face of the Macon Housing Authority cannot be overstated and though his friends and colleagues will surely miss him, they wish him a happy retirement. "We certainly hate to see him go," said John Walker, Chairman of the MHA Board of Commissioners. "He's been a tremendous leader for 31 years and has accomplished great things, but there is a time and a season for everything and he thinks this is the time. John will be difficult to replace; he is intelligent, energetic, innovative and respected throughout the nation for what he’s done."