COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) – Columbia City Council will have a large pool of applicants to pick from when it decides who to appoint to the Columbia Housing Authority Board next Tuesday.

The vote will happen at the council’s regularly scheduled meeting. City Councilwoman Tameika Isaac Devine said council plans to appoint three new commissioners to replace Jennifer Rubin, Bessie Watson, and Alex Furgess. Rubin and Watson resigned from the board earlier this month while Furgess’ term is expired. Currently, board chairman Bobby Gist, Selena Pickens and Ernest Cromartie III and George Green sit on the board.

However, Devine said there is a possibility the council will appoint a new commissioner to replace Gist, who will see his term expire in June.

"Since we have this great pool of applicants, rather than start the application process over in a few weeks, there’s a possibility we appoint someone and his term would end early," she said.

Of the 37 applications reviewed by WIS, 15 were submitted by men and 22 were women. The average age of the applicant pool is 48. The youngest applicant is 24 years old and the oldest is 88 years old.

"I want somebody that is not afraid to speak up," Duvall said. "I want somebody with some kind of background being a board member that is not a tentative board member but an active board member that will get in and ask questions and do the right thing."

Councilwoman Devine agrees and said she wants the new commissioners to have experience in housing and development, whether that be volunteer based or in their professional careers.

"There’s not a lot of time for folks who might just be really well-meaning, great community members and community advocates," she said. "But if they have no experience in housing, or affordable housing, lending and all the things board members will need, they may be good board members in the future, but for this time, they may not be the right people."

The new commissioners will be tasked with discussing and voting on a company to conduct the housing authority’s independent investigation into what happened at Allen Benedict Court, where two men were found dead inside their apartments from carbon monoxide poisoning in January.

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