Biography: Austin Simms
Austin Simms has served as Executive Director of the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Housing Authority since 1977. He is responsible for the administration of over three thousand, six-hundred (3,600) units of low-income housing (1,097 public housing units and approximately 3,000 Housing Choice Voucher units) in Lexington.
Under Mr. Simms direction, the Housing Authority has been the recipient of two HOPE VI grants from the Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) totaling more than $39 million for the revitalization of two of the cities oldest public housing sites. The first award received in 1998 for $19.3 million for the revitalization of the Charlotte Court public housing site is now complete. Also under Mr. Simms leadership, the Housing Authority received a $20 million HOPE VI grant in 2005 for the revitalization of Bluegrass-Aspendale, the city’s oldest and largest public housing development and that project is ongoing.
With Mr. Simms direction, over $50 million in construction costs have been obligated and the $20 million 2005 HOPE VI grant has been leveraged to approximately $80 million in project costs. In July 2010, the final phase of construction of rental units were complete in the HOPEVI project.At present, Mr. Simms is working toward the completion of the 2005 HOPE VI grant with construction continuing on the $12 million homeownership phase of construction that will bring 102 houses to this East End neighborhood.
During 2010, Mr. Simms was recognized as the Community Achiever of the Year by the YMCA Black Achievers program and he was recognized by the Downtown Lexington Corporation with the 2010 Perfect Partner Award for his affordable housing efforts in Lexington.
Mr. Simms is a past president of the Southeastern Regional Council (SERC) of the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO), a past president of the Kentucky Housing Association and a member of the NAHRO Board of Governors. He is also a licensed real estate agent and serves on a number of regional and national housing committees. In 2008, Mr. Simms received the NAHRO Fellowship designation. Mr. Simms is one of eight individuals from around the country recognized in NAHRO’s inaugural class of Fellows. NAHRO Fellows are honored because they have demonstrated, over a sustained period of time, their commitment to improve the housing conditions of their fellow citizens and/or the viability and sustainability of the communities in which they live and/or work.
Locally, former affiliations include membership on the St. Joseph Hospital Board, Fayette County Public School's Task Force on Excellence, Graduate of Leadership Lexington, Appalachia Educational Laboratory Board, Blue Grass Airport Board, Commerce Lexington Board and an elected Member of the Fayette County Public Schools Board.
Mr. Simms is a native Lexingtonian and received degrees from Kentucky State University and Morehead State University. Mr. Simms is married with two grown sons.