An Annapolis alderman criticized the management of the Annapolis Housing Authority Friday and proposed that the City Council and public housing residents play a greater role in the operation of the town's 1,509 public and subsidized housing units.
Alderman Wayne T. Turner, a Ward 6 Republican, said the housing authority has mismanaged the money it receives from the federal government to provide homes for low- and moderate-income residents and has been unable to deal with drug-related activities in those communities.
"The citizens of Annapolis living in the public housing complexes
want substantial changes that will help them create better lives for themselves and their families," said Mr. Turner, who is running for re-election Nov. 2.
"They want a decent home, the same as we all do. They want crime and the drugs to go away and their despair to become hopeful expectations and fulfilled dreams," he said.
At a Friday news conference at City Hall, Mr. Turner outlined a number of changes he would like to see made to the county's public housing program.
He would establish greater City Council control over the Housing Authority by requiring its governing board to make periodic reports to the aldermen.
He also would reorganize and expand the board from five to nine members, one being nominated from each ward by that ward's alderman. The board members would continue to be appointed by the mayor.
Mr. Turner also said he would like the Housing Authority to give elected tenant councils more control over day-to-day activities within the public housing complexes.
"If the Housing Authority won't aggressively clean up the problems, then the residents will, if we support them," he said.
Mr. Turner based his criticisms on a March 23 investigation by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which, among other things, said the Annapolis Housing Authority has too large a staff, especially at the administrative level. HUD said the authority's 70-member staff is nearly twice as large as it should be.
The HUD investigation concluded that the Housing Authority needed to improve its building maintenance, better follow purchasing procedures and streamline its staff.
Kenneth Kirby, Mr. Turner's Democratic opponent and a Housing Authority employee, dismissed Mr. Turner's criticism and proposed housing reforms as a ploy to get votes.
"It's election year poppycock," said Mr. Kirby, who is on a leave of absence to campaign. He also rejected the suggestion that the Housing Authority staff is ineffective.
And Deputy Housing Director Roger "Pip" Moyer labeled the criticisms "totally political. I've never seen one of these Republicans show an interest in poor people in my 40 years in public life."