LONDON, ONT -- Just six months after city staff started overseeing London Middlesex Community Housing (LMCH) the vacancy and repair rates are trending in the right direction.

“I’m cautiously optimistic about their ability to move this forward. What I can tell you is that they are deeply and utterly committed to it,” said Sandra Datars-Bere, head of social services with the City.

Last September city council ousted the board of directors at LMCH in the wake of a scathing audit report.

It found 174 units were vacant and repairing and reoccupying units was taking 109 days on average.

Meanwhile about 5,000 were on the waitlist for rent geared to income housing.

Council appointed Datars-Bere as a new one member board of directors.

“Part of the challenge from last summer related to repairs, part of that challenge related to systems, but it also related to huge post problems,” she said.

Aggressive extermination was undertaken in the most severely impacted building and work was focused on filling vacancies.

In February the vacancy rate was 3.9 per cent, just above the first quarter target.

Units undergoing active repair stood at 2.7 per cent which was trending towards the March 31, target.

In the first two months of 2020, 96 units were repaired for new tenants and 98 units rented.

Those results are up to the end of February, but just two weeks later everything seemed to change with the sudden arrival of COVID-19.

Over the past month there have been far fewer people moving out, likely stemming from the uncertainty and economic impacts of the pandemic.

Datars-Bere says staff have continued to make progress where they can.

“In March, April, they’ve done a fair number of turn around. Not as many as you would see in a regular month, but I can tell you (they) have been able to do some repairs,” she said.

Datars-Bere will soon leave for a job with another municipality.

Council is expected to appoint LMCH’s new board of directors on Tuesday.