ATLANTA - The Tennessee Housing Development Agency last week named veteran state official W. Jeff Reynolds as its executive director following the recent resignation of Alton E. Brown.

Reynolds, who becomes the 14-year-old housing agency's sixth executive director and the third in the last year-and-a-half, had been commissioner of corrections in Tennessee since February 1989.

Reynolds has held a wide variety of state jobs since 1977, including serving as special assistant to the governor for corrections capital projects from April 1987 to August 1987; deputy commissioner of the Department of Employment Security, January 1987 to April 1987; executive assistant to the comptroller of the Treasury, August 1987 to February 1989; and staff assistant to the comptroller since August 1977.

"I don't think we can have a better team than Mr. Reynolds and our deputy, Ralph E. Massey," said John E. Cain 3d, chairman of the board of the housing agency. "I think we are in for a tremendous amount of housing activity."

Brown, who resigned last month, had been the housing agency's executive director since October 1991 following the dismissal of Thomas P. Lawrence 2d as executive director in April 1991. Lawrence left after months of deepening conflict with Cain.

According to a state official, who declined to be identified, Brown resigned last month because he had become frustrated with working within the confines of state government.

"Maybe it was because he came from the private sector. but Alton was never really comfortable with the politics of being executive director of a state housing agency," the official said. "It just wasn't his thing." Brown could not be reached for comment.

Before he became executive director, Brown had been with Fidelity Federal Bank since 1975. At Fidelity, he served as a senior vice president and manager of loan servicing between 1989 and 1991, and as senior vice president of branch administration between 1987 and 1989. Before that, he was a project manager with Brewer Enterprises in Nashville, coordinating the development and management of a condominium project.

As the new executive director of the housing agency, Reynolds will oversee a staff of about 70.

Besides selling tax-exempt debt to provide mortgage loans to low-and moderate-income home buyers, the housing agency also manages rental assistance for 6,000 families and three federal programs: the low-income housing tax credit, rental rehabilitation, and HOME.

The housing agency makes grants to local government and nonprofit housing providers under a program made permanent by Tennessee's General Assembly earlier this year.

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