The History of Stark Metropolitan Housing Authority

In 1937, The Housing Act was established to provide subsidies to improve the living conditions for low-income families. In 1939, the Canton Metropolitan Housing Authority was established as the 18th public housing authority in the state of Ohio. The agency underwent its first reorganizational meeting in 1947, and in 1970 the name was changed to Stark Metropolitan Housing Authority (SMHA). Providing quality and affordable housing for over 80 years, SMHA strives to continue providing housing opportunities and needed resources to eligible Stark County residents.

Early History

April 21, 1939

The Ohio State Board of Housing establishes the Canton Metropolitan Housing Authority. By August 1939, the newly established authority appoints a chief architect for the construction of 600 units on two sites.

Haines Reichel

June 1, 1947

Haines Reichel is the first director of the Housing Authority, serving from 1947 to 1950. First projects include the Don Mellett Homes and the Jackson-Sherrick Court Homes.

John Pulley

June 4, 1950

John Pulley becomes the second Executive Director, serving from 1950 to 1969, during which time the Housing Authority acquired 201 units (Sunset and Sherrick).

Name Change

March 21, 1968

The Housing Authority changes its name to Canton Massillon Metropolitan Housing Authority.

Girard Gardens

March 22, 1968

The Housing Authority’s second senior-citizen high-rise, Girard Gardens, is proposed.

Walter Crenshaw

March 1, 1969

Walter Crenshaw, the third Executive Director, serves only six months, ending his term in September 1969 after adding 211 units for a total of 421 units.

Social Service Program

March 1, 1969

The Housing Authority initiates its first social service program.

McKinley Park Homes

August 18, 1969

McKinley Park Homes is the Housing Authority’s first high-rise, providing 80 units of senior-citizen housing.

Ed Witmer

March 1, 1970

Ed Witmer becomes the fourth Executive Director in March 1970, serving 12 years until his retirement in 1982. During this period, 2,036 units are added, bringing the total number of units in Stark County, at the time, to 2,457.

Summer Youth Program

June 23, 1971

SMHA establishes a summer youth program at Jackson Sherrick.

First Low-Income Units

March 22, 1972

Mahoning Manor, Ellisdale Homes, and Gage Gardens are constructed as the first low-income units for families outside southeast Canton.

Guy Mack Homes

April 20, 1972

SMHA purchases four units at the request of the Canton Welfare Federation CHAT Program. The units are named Guy Mack Homes in honor of the slain Canton police officer.

Scattered Public Housing

April 22, 1973

SMHA introduces scattered public housing, a new type of housing that integrates low-income families with other city residents, which reduces the stigma of living in public housing.

Plaza Terrace

June 1, 1973

Plaza Terrace, a 100-unit senior-citizen high-rise, is constructed.

Lincoln Apartments

April 1, 1974

The senior-citizen high-rise Lincoln Apartments is completed.

Senior-Citizen Housing

October 1, 1974

400 units of senior-citizen and family housing is available to low-income Massillon and alliance residents.

New Daycare Center

January 1, 1975

A new daycare center is constructed at 1318 Gonder Avenue SE in Canton.

SMHA Offices Move

March 21, 1975

The SMHA Central Offices move from the Jackson Park location to 1800 West Tusc. Street in Canton.

The First Section 8 Office

January 1, 1976

The first Section 8 office is established at Plaza Terrace.

Congregate Housing

January 1, 1977

Congregate housing for low-income senior-citizens is introduced in the Downtowner and leased under the Section 8 program.

SMHA Social Services

January 1, 1979

Residents of Section 8 senior-citizen housing receive SMHA social services and move into apartments.

New Senior-Citizen Residences

January 22, 1982

Four new senior-citizen residences become available to low-income senior-citizens: Shortridge Villa (Jackson Township), Constitution House (Louisville), Indian Run Manor (Waynesburg), and Reynolds Manor (Navarre).

Albert McIlwain

November 1, 1982

Albert McIlwain becomes the fifth Executive Director, serving seven years from November 1982 until his death in June 1989. In 1983, 50 scattered site homes are acquired.

Section 8

March 21, 1983

By 1983, SMHA acquires 268 units under the new Section 8 Moderate Rehabilitation Program.

Cherrie Turner

June 1, 1989

In June 1989, Cherrie Turner serves as Interim Executive Director until December 1, 1989, when she becomes the sixth Executive Director.

Lillian P. Beane Center

January 1, 1997

SMHA opens the Lillian P. Beane Center in Massillon.

Amanda Fletcher

January 1, 2001

Amanda Fletcher serves as Executive Director from 2001 to 2009.

Michael Williams

July 1, 2009

Michael Williams serves as Executive Director from 2009 to 2012.

Herman Hill

February 11, 2013

Herman L. Hill serves as Executive Director from 2013 to 2022.

SMHA’s 80th Anniversary Gala!

October 18, 2019

SMHA’s 80th Anniversary Gala!

SMHA proudly celebrates 80-Years of serving the residents of Stark County.

Joshua Crites

February 6, 2023

Joshua Crites serves as Executive Director in 2023.

Denita Johnson

February 1, 2024

Denita Johnson is appointed as Executive Director.

Download and view the history of SMHA 1939-1989:

History of SMHA