HUD Head: CHA Off Troubled List


U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Andrew Cuomo came into Chicago Aug. 1 to announce that HUD has removed the Chicago Housing Authority from the list of Troubled Housing Authorities and will return control of the CHA to the City of Chicago within eight months.

The transition back to local control began in mid-August and a new Housing Authority Board of Commissioners will be appointed in seven to eight months, Cuomo said during a visit to Henry Horner Homes.

“For the first time since we began the current rating system for housing authorities in 1979, the Chicago Housing Authority is not on HUD’s list of trouble public housing authorities,” Cuomo said. “This major achievement shows that the partnership HUD formed with Mayor Daley and with CHA residents and staff to turn around the Authority has succeeded. Together, we’ve improved living conditions for residents and created new opportunities for them to get education, training and jobs that will help more become self-sufficient.

“This isn’t the end of the process, it’s the beginning,” Cuomo said. “The tenants, the new, hard-working management and the people of Chicago don’t think this is as good as it gets and neither do I. Now that the CHA is no longer on HUD’s list of trouble housing authorities, we can move forward to begin returning control of the CHA where it belongs – to the people of Chicago. This city has earned the right to run its own housing authority.”

The federal government took control of CHA in May 1995. Joseph Shuldiner, then the second in command at HUD, was charged with administering the day-to-day affairs at CHA while Edwin Eisendrath, then the HUD Secretary’s regional representative, took the role of a one-man board.

CHA scored 64.69 out of a possible 100 points on HUD’s new Public Housing Management Assessment Program. When HUD took control of CHA in 1995, CHA’s score was just 51.

Under the rating system, which measures performance by public housing authorities in eight areas, any authority scoring below 60 is classified as troubled. HUD classifies only 51 of the nation’s 3,400 public and Indian housing authorities as troubled. The Public Housing Management Assessment Program measures the performance of public housing authorities in the following areas: 1) Percentage of vacant apartments and the time it takes to fill vacant apartments. 2) Management of the modernization program to upgrade apartments. 3) The success of rent collection efforts. 4) Performance of repairs and general maintenance on apartments. 5) Adequacy of physical inspections of apartments performed by a housing authority. 6) Overall financial management. 7) Programs to help residents become self-sufficient by providing such things as education, job training and child care. 8) Anti-crime efforts, including use of HUD’s Drug Elimination Grants, working with local police and carrying out the One Strike program to keep criminals out of public housing and remove those already there. HUD is providing operating subsides of almost $184 million to the CHA this year.

Cuomo’s other major announcement Aug. 1 was that Rosanna Marquez has been appointed the Secretary’s Representative for the Midwest Region, replacing Edwin Eisendrath.

“Rosanna Marquez brings a wealth of experience and dynamic leadership skills to the position of Secretary’s Representative for the Midwest,” Cuomo said. “In this position, Rosanna will assure that HUD works as an active partner with local government, the private sector and non-profit groups to tackle the many challenges facing the region.”

Marquez is a native Chicagoan with extensive experience in both the public and private sectors. She most recently worked as a Cabinet-level senior advisor to Mayor Richard M. Daley. Cuomo said Marquez spearheaded several initiatives, including efforts that lead to Chicago’s designation by the Clinton Administration as one of six federal Empowerment Zones. She also served for the last three years as Mayor Daley’s representative on CHA’s five-member Executive Committee.

“I am very grateful to Secretary Cuomo and President Clinton for giving me the opportunity to serve the people of this six state region,” Marquez said.

“These are very exciting times for our Department, with many challenges ahead. I will work to deliver on the Secretary’s efforts to make HUD a results-driven agency that works proactively with state and local governments, community groups and the real estate industry at large.”

Marquez lives in Chicago with her husband. She is a graduate with honors from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and of the Harvard Law School.

Cuomo became Secretary of Housing and Urban Development in January 1997. During his tenure, Cuomo has cracked down on landlords who collect money improperly from HUD. As a result, the amount of HUD money recovered from landlords rose from $18 million in 1996 to $25 million in 1997. Cuomo produced a study in 1998 of “worst-case” housing needs that found about 12.5 million very low income people pay over half their incomes for rent or live in severely substandard housing. Cuomo has made it a priority to strengthen HUD’s partnerships.

These are some of the programs that have poured out HUD in the last year and a half. But as Cuomo said after visiting Robert Taylor Homes, there is still a lot more to clean up. As long as people are still living in filth and fear, our job is not even close to being complete.

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