COLUMBIA, S.C. — The Columbia Housing Authority is searching for an interim executive director, as executive director Gilbert Walker heads into retirement in June.

On Thursday, the board of trustees spent a little over two hours in executive session discussing applications from 13 people from around the nation.

Board Chairman Ernest Cromartie III explained that there was a week-long nationwide search and applicants had various backgrounds in public housing, including a former housing authority executive director.

Walker's retirement was announced one month after two men were found dead from carbon monoxide poisoning at the Allen Benedict Court apartments on January 17, 2019.

411 people had to be evacuated from the apartment complex and have since moved into new housing.

Cromartie says he hopes the new executive director will help move the CHA forward.

"I think the message is clear, we want to move forward," says Cromartie. "We want to have transparency, we want to have accountability, but as I stated in the opening of our meeting, the residents take first priority. We want to make sure that the residents to know that they are first in the minds of the commissioners. We're going to let the executive director know that the residents need to be first in his or her mind as well."

The board is now combing through applicants. No word on when they will appoint a new interim executive director.