February 2022, Volume 7, Issue 1

February 1, 2022

In the Spotlight 30 Years of Don Wales MHA Maintenance Supervisor

MHA recently recognized Maintenance Supervisor, Don Wales, for 30 years of faithful and dedicated service to MHA and its residents. No other current employee comes close to Don in seniority and only a handful of current residents called MHA home back in January 1991, when Don began working in the maintenance department.

A lot has changed at MHA in the last 30 year and Don is a witness to much of it. As Don explained, “I’ve worked for five different executive directors and seen lots of staff and residents come and go. When I began, our maintenance staff was larger than it is now. Maintenance worked out of the Spring Brook basement and the Spring Valley community building. We used our own personal tools, and most everyone had to carry their tools and supplies while walking to their assigned duties because we didn’t have motorized carts like now. The large maintenance yard in back, and the maintenance building and garages did not exist. Even the Spring Brook community building was only vacant space back then.”

Beyond outlasting many co-workers and residents, Don is known for his relaxed attitude and devoted work ethic. He merely laughed when reminded that he currently supervises maintenance staff who were not born when he started at MHA. And, a running joke at MHA is that Don must be ordered by Executive Director John Afoun to take time off. So, mark the date if you ever ask for Don and he is not at work!

Not many people know that Don is very humble about his professional and personal achievements. For instance, you have to pry out of him that he saved a resident and her baby from an apartment fire many years ago in Spring Brook. Don was an active volunteer firefighter at the time, so it’s no surprise that he instantly jumped into action when he and his coworkers saw smoke pouring out of a 2-story unit across the street from where they were working. He shrugs it off now, but he described how he and co-workers ran over to help. “They wanted to open the front door and go in, but I told them not to because opening the door would have made the fire a lot worse. Instead, I climbed the metal lattice on the side of the front porch overhang, which had a flat roof at the time, and I reached the second-story window. A lady was standing inside at the window and I was ready to help her out when she suddenly went back in! She was gone for 20-30 seconds and then reappeared with a baby in her hands. She handed me the baby through the open window, and I passed it down to a co-worker waiting on the ground. When the lady tried to exit through the window, however, the outer storm window fell on her, so I had to break it and pull her out. Looking back on it, I don’t know how I did it. Meanwhile, her brother and other children escaped by jumping or being thrown from a back second-floor window into the waiting arms of other rescuers. Later, I learned that the lady was pregnant at the time.” Don and other co-workers received a hero citation from the City of Moline for their actions that day. Don also received an award from his home firehouse in Milan.

The Moline Housing Authority is proud to have an experienced hero like Don leading the maintenance department. Although much has changed at MHA over the past 30 years, Don’s reliability, hard work, and commitment to doing his best for MHA and its residents has not. Next time you see Don out and about the grounds, join us in congratulating him for his many years of wonderful service to our community.

Tips from Housing— Renters’ Insurance

MHA has long encouraged residents to purchase renter’s or tenant’s insurance for their protection. Such insurance provides liability insurance and coverage for the tenant’s personal property lost through events such as fire and theft. Just the other day, one of our residents praised how the insurance helped in her theft case. She described that her unit had been completely ransacked while she was away for an extended period. Fortunately, she heeded MHA’s advice and had renter’s insurance. She explained that the premium was very affordable, and she was ecstatic that the insurance company paid for her stolen and destroyed personal items. Her insurance transformed a potentially catastrophic loss into a life lesson on how to help protect and recover from unexpected or unforeseen calamities. Other less fortunate tenants have sought relief from MHA when they, a neighbor, or mother nature does something that causes damage to their apartment. Regretfully, MHA’s usual response is that we cannot compensate them for their loss and we hope they have renter’s insurance. We again encourage all residents to at least look into the possibility and benefits of renter’s insurance. It is for your protection.

Section 8 Re-Certification Reminder Maintenance Corner—Space Heaters are Dangerous

The Moline Housing Authority (MHA) is required by federal regulations to review each voucher participant’s income and family size. This is done to assure that (1) the correct amount of rent is being paid based on actual income and (2) the unit is the right size for the family.

Preparing for your re-certification is important.

  • Be on time for your appointment.
  • Be sure you have all the documentation requested in your re-certification letter.
  • Be sure that all household members over the age of 18 attend the interview
  • Be on time for your appointment.

At the interview, the MHA representative will check to see that all information provided about income and family size is correct.

The annual re-certification may be completed by mail for participants with income sources MHA has found to be stable. These participants receive a re-certification packet in the mail approximately four months before the anniversary of the initial move-in date. If you receive one of these packets, read and follow all of the instructions on the cover letter and return the requested documentation promptly. MHA is in the business of housing people, therefore, help us help you to maintain your home by complying with the re-certification requirements as outlined above. Failure to do so, however, could result in your housing assistance being terminated.

Maintenance Corner – Space Heaters are Dangerous

On January 9, 2022, at least 19 people were killed in a New York affordable housing building fire blamed on a malfunctioning space heater. It can easily happen here if we are not careful. As a property owner and manager, MHA provides information, makes periodic inspections of units, and responds to work orders to maximize your health and safety. Although space heaters are not prohibited, their use must be carefully monitored. MHA’s Rules and Regulations state the following about space heaters:

22) Electric space heaters are not allowed in units unless they are connected directly into a wall outlet and away from any material that could create a fire or burn hazard. The resident must be present AT ALL TIMES whenever a space heater is in use. Space heaters cannot be connected to extension cords, power strips or multi-prong devices such as surge protectors. The use of any gas, fuel or pro-pane heaters is strictly prohibited in units.

MHA cannot be in every apartment to see if residents are following this rule or that smoke alarm batteries have been taken out. Residents must understand and take some personal accountability for their own safety. Please follow our safety recommendations, don’t tamper with the smoke alarms, and take responsibility for your own safety, and the safety of your children and neighbors. If you are unsure what to do, please call our management office and we will be happy to assist you with any of your questions and needs. Help us help you stay safe.

Community Opportunity and Resource Experiences – The FSS and ROSS Programs

The Family Self-Sufficiency Program (FSS) has been growing. Moline Housing Authority’s FSS Coordinator, Teresa Chapman, has been connecting with residents and Section 8 voucher holders to help them create plans to help them reach their goals. One of the best perks of the program is the savings account. There are several people with over $1000 in their savings accounts. For more information about the FSS Program, you can contact Teresa Chapman at 309-581-5097, email her at or go to and fill out the form under the FSS/ROSS program tab.

Moline Housing Authority’s ROSS Coordinator, Jozett McCoy, has been using the Health and Wellness survey to bring different speakers to MHA residents. The survey is also being used to create opportunities for residents. She has also been working with residents on eviction diversion issues as well as working to connect individuals and families with local resources. If you would like more information about the ROSS program, please contact Jozett McCoy at 309-277-0285 or 4141 11th Avenue A Moline, IL 61265 Phone: 309-764-1819 Fax: 309-764-2120