New Vision for VIHFA: Eugene Jones Jr. Charts a Path Forward



Eugene Jones Jr., the newly appointed executive director of the V.I. Housing Finance Authority, has been exploring the intricacies of his role for the past three weeks. In a discussion with the Consortium during his initial media engagements, Jones chose to focus more on his leadership philosophy and approach to institution management rather than the minutiae of his current position.

Having served as an auditor for the HUD Office of the Inspector General, Jones transitioned to housing authority roles, driven by a desire for less travel and more stability. He shared an anecdote about losing his way home after a stint in Las Vegas, a pivotal moment that steered him toward a career change. Jones started as the chief financial officer at the San Francisco Housing Authority but found the finance role unfulfilling, prompting him to seek a more community-oriented position. This quest led him to Kansas City, Missouri, where he took the helm of the first housing authority under federal receivership, stabilizing it within two years.

Jones’s extensive experience spans several major cities including Indianapolis, Detroit, Toronto, Chicago, and Atlanta. He noted the unique topographical challenges of the Virgin Islands, which vary significantly across St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix, necessitating innovative and collaborative approaches to housing development.

Despite his new surroundings, Jones is no stranger to managing housing agencies through crises, having coordinated relocation efforts after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. His firsthand experiences with disaster recovery highlight the resilience of the Virgin Islands community.

When questioned about his immediate priorities for VIHFA, Jones emphasized that he is still in the observational phase but acknowledged the Authority’s stable foundation, which he intends to enhance. He cited the homeowner assistance funds program as a particularly successful initiative. Despite recent revelations about the Authority’s substantial debts to the Water and Power Authority, Jones remains optimistic, focusing on resolving ongoing disputes and ensuring compliance with federal regulations to prevent the recapture of funds.

Jones is committed to increasing transparency within VIHFA’s operations, utilizing both social media and traditional media outlets. He teased a forthcoming homeownership initiative slated for June in St. Croix and St. Thomas and encouraged public engagement in discussions about future housing solutions, such as the potential for integrating commercial and residential spaces.

Throughout his dialogue, Jones conveyed a dedication to understanding the unique challenges of his new role and leveraging available resources to benefit the Virgin Islands community. He stressed the importance of humility, authenticity, and interpersonal skills in achieving the goals of the VIHFA.

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