DECATUR — A familiar face with the Decatur Housing Authority will take the helm Jan. 10, five months to the day after the Aug. 10 departure of former Executive Director Julian Marsh.
Jim Alpi, 59, currently the agency’s director of capital programs, started with the housing authority in 1984 overseeing renovations to the former Longview Place housing complex before going on to do the same thing for Wabash Crossing, the housing development that supplanted Longview.
A former architect, Alpi got interested in the housing authority after working on some of the agency’s projects. “I started in a two-year, grant-funded position,” he said. “I still haven’t left.”
Lisa Campbell, chairwoman of the Decatur Housing Authority’s Board of Directors, said Alpi’s knowledge and experience allowed him to rise to the top of a pool of about 30 applicants, six of whom the board interviewed.
She said Alpi had the opportunity to learn from previous directors including Marsh, Fred Krows, David Carr and Tom Smith, who is serving as interim executive director until Alpi takes over.
“We’re looking forward to being innovative and moving within the new HUD (U.S. Housing and Urban Development) guidelines to provide the best we can for our clientele,” Campbell said.
That’s certainly where Alpi said his heart is.
“We’re assisting about 1,700 households in Decatur, but there are still 12,000 people who are spending more than 30 percent of their income on their housing,” he said. “That means less money for clothing, food and other essentials.”
A native of Mount Clare in Macoupin County, Alpi has a bachelor’s of science degree in architectural studies from the University of Illinois. His wife is Sharon Alpi, director of the Center for Entrepreneurship at Millikin University. They have two children.
“I know it sounds schmaltzy, but I like to think I’ll be able to help some people have a better life,” Alpi said. “I feel honored and excited.”