MARIETTA — A man who helped transform the city and shape of Marietta’s future residential development announced Wednesday he plans to retire from the Marietta Housing Authority this spring.
Ray Buday, 68, who has been the MHA executive director since 2005, said “time is a precious commodity.”
Instead of spending 50 hours each week at work, Buday said he will be with his wife, Becky, and five grandchildren or on the golf course, at Bible studies and doing volunteer work.
“It is time for me to pass the torch and wind down my professional life,” Buday said.
Before taking over as executive director, Buday practiced law with the Marietta firm Brock & Clay and served several years as counsel to the MHA. He also served as Southeast regional counsel for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Buday’s salary with the MHA is $195,000, which included $20,000 for in-house legal services he provided throughout the year.
“Ray’s vast knowledge of housing law has been invaluable to our organization,” said MHA Chair Fran Sutton.
Buday said he will work as a part-time consultant a couple days a week for the MHA to address day-to-day legal matters.
Pete Waldrep, who has served as the MHA’s director of development since 2006, will succeed Buday as executive director.
The position was filled “from the inside,” Buday said, “because there is work to be done.”
Waldrep is negotiating his salary with the MHA board, Buday said.
First a homebuilder in Cobb County for 16 years, Waldrep was a member of the Marietta City Council from 1994 to 2005.
“(Waldrep’s) working knowledge of the city government and his excellent working relationship with our strategic development partners will be of great benefit to our organization for the future,” Sutton said.
City changes in Buday’s tenure
Buday said he left his law practice to create better housing by transforming the MHA, which marked its 75th anniversary in 2013.
The transformation during Buday’s tenure included razing more than 500 federal public housing units in Marietta.
“There were challenges,” said Buday about getting government approval to demolish the housing projects.
The biggest challenge was the “human dimension” of relocating hundreds of displaced residents, Buday said.
“That is a lot of people to get in front of and tell them you are going to have to move,” said Buday. “But these people knew they could live in a much better environment.”
Since then, federal Section 8 vouchers helped place Marietta residents, including 90 military veterans, in subsidized housing. And a down payment assistance program by the MHA helped 122 families become homeowners.
With the rundown apartment structures demolished, Buday said the MHA has decreased the number of renters in Marietta and raised the ratio of homeowners in the city.
“For almost nine years, we have had a clear mission with an outstanding and strongly supportive board,” Buday said. “The staff is the best in the state, if not broader.”
The MHA staff of 46 people includes six recent hires for the “Franklin Road management mission,” Buday said.
In December, the City Council approved contracting with the MHA to maintain apartment complexes bought by the city as part of the $68 million redevelopment bond. The MHA will manage the apartments before they are razed.
The annual operating budget for the MHA is approximately $25 million, Buday said.