Callie Miller was officially welcomed as the new Executive Director of Housing Opportunities Inc. when the organization hosted the Great Bend Chamber Coffee Thursday morning.
Miller, a La Crosse native, took over the position in November when previous director Vicky Dayton retired after 25 years in the position. While she is excited for her new role, Miller acknowledged she has big shoes to fill following in Dayton’s footsteps.
“She (helped) create this whole company from the ground up for 25 years, so there was a lot to learn from her,” Miller said.
Miller has been with HOI for nearly seven years, most recently serving as an administrative assistant for the organization for three years when Dayton decided to step down. She said that role allowed her the opportunity to work closely with Dayton, which helped her gain valuable experience in several aspects of the executive director’s position.
“I learned a lot from her,” Miller said. “I was new to the (administrative) world, it was nice to learn how to be a boss and how to run a company.”
Though she may be new to the administrative world, Miller brings a wealth of business experience to the position. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree from American Public University and a master’s degree from Kansas State University in Personal Financial Planning. Prior to working at HOI, she worked at CUNA Mutual Services in Great Bend.
She is excited to continue to be a part of the services HOI provides the community.
“I enjoy being able to help the families we get to help, and to be able to provide amazing quality housing,” she said.
As executive director, Miller oversees a staff of seven people, for whom she expressed pride and gratitude.
Currently, HOI owns, manages and maintains over 200 rentals across Barton County, along with Larned, Lyons, Sterling and Scott City. The apartments are designed for individuals 55 and older with low-to-moderate incomes, with appliances, yard work and snow removal included.
As executive director, Miller said she would like to see HOI expand both its service area and the types of housing the non-profit organization provides.
“There are some underserved counties and communities that need our housing,” she said.
Miller steps in just as the organization is set to break ground on its latest project, Quail Cove, an income-qualified 24-unit duplex senior housing development on the west side of Great Bend near Eisenhower Avenue and Parrish Court, adjacent to Cherry Village.
The Great Bend City Council approved the rezoning of the land in February, allowing the project to move forward.
Miller said HOI hopes to begin construction on the project by May 1.
Miller said also is has begun the funding application process on a housing project for individuals with disabilities at a yet-to-be announced location in Great Bend. HOI is working in conjunction with Sunflower Diversified Services on the development of that project. She hopes to have the application submitted in May and to receive a funding determination by July.
“We’re very excited for this project; it’s something different we have never done before,” Miller said.
She said the proposed project is both an expansion to a new segment of the population and an opportunity to work with different building techniques and buildings than what HOI has done in the past.
Currently, in Great Bend alone, the waiting list is over 200, or about 2-4 years, for HOI housing units. She said other communities HOI serves also have waiting lists, but those are not is long. Applicants currently must be 55 years or older, and must meet unit-specific income requirements in order to qualify for HOI’s services.