Salem Housing Authority head to retire after months on paid leave

The entrance to Salem Housing Authority, pictured in April. (Troy Brynelson/Salem Reporter)

Correction June 21: A previous version of this article misstated where Yaquina Hall is proposed to be built.

After months away from the Salem Housing Authority, administrator Andy Wilch will retire in September, the city of Salem announced Wednesday.

Wilch has led the housing authority since 2009, but has been on paid leave since February for an undisclosed medical issue.

It’s not clear why Wilch is ending his nearly 10-year-long career. The city of Salem has not specified, citing privacy concerns. Wilch could not be reached for comment.

Wilch’s last day is Sept. 30, according to a city press release.

“I am grateful to have spent the last 10 years with this organization, and deeply honored to have had the opportunity to make a direct impact on the lives of Salem residents,” Wilch said in a prepared statement Wednesday. “I am very proud of the talent, dedication and passion the entire Salem Housing Authority brings to this work, and what we have accomplished together during a decade of both successes and challenges.”

The Salem Housing Authority is tasked with housing low- and moderate-income families, presiding over 3,400 residential units and housing about 8,000 people, according to its monthly report in May.

Under Wilch, the housing authority started the Homeless Rental Assistance Program, aiming to house the so-called “hardest to house” segment of homeless people.

Wilch’s tenure also saw the starts of two new housing projects that are expected to launch soon: Yaquina Hall, a 52-unit housing property at the Oregon State Hospital; and Redwood Crossing, a 35-unit complex with in-home social services and a community kitchen.

Since Wilch’s departure, Nicole Utz has acted as administrator and reported directly to Kristin Retherford, director of Salem’s Urban Development department.

City of Salem spokesman Kenny Larson could not say whether Utz’s role will change when Wilch officially steps down.

As administrator, Wilch earned $117,915 per year, or roughly $9,800 per month. By the time he retires he will have been on leave for seven months.

Have a tip? Contact reporter Troy Brynelson at 503-575-9930, [email protected] or @TroyWB.

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