Residents of public housing respond to five-year plan; Draft outlines 5 goals, will be sent to HUD


Public housing residents asked for better communication with the Housing Authority of the City of Annapolis during a hearing yesterday on the agency's five-year plan.

Only a few spoke about the plan, but some said residents should have a voice in policies and issues that affect the 3,000 people living in the city's 10 public housing complexes.

"This is only the beginning; we'll need other meetings down the path," Mark Beavers, tenant council president of Obery Court/College Creek Terrace, said at the hearing.

More than 50 residents and supporters attended the hearing at Eastport Terrace/Harbor House Recreation Center. It was a continuation of a meeting March 28, during which residents complained that they didn't have enough time to review the plan.

The lengthy draft outlines the housing authority's goals and policies for 2001 through 2005. It must be submitted to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development by Saturday.

P. Holden Croslan, executive director of the housing authority, said the residents' comments will be recorded and answered by housing staff. The comments also will be included with the plan sent to HUD, though the housing authority is not required to do so, Croslan said.

The plan provides an assessment of housing needs within the community and a summary of the authority's planned financial resources and planned uses of those funds.

Five goals, ranging from establishing a committee to investigate redevelopment opportunities to increasing residents' level of satisfaction with maintenance, are outlined in the plan. The plan also states that the agency has no plans to apply for a HOPE VI grant, a federal revitalization project rejected by residents two years ago, or consider demolition of any units to build replacements.

Some residents had concerns about the plan, which were presented to the board by Janet E. LaBella, chief attorney for the Legal Aid Bureau of Anne Arundel County. Legal Aid has filed grievances on behalf of hundreds of residents.

LaBella gave the commissioners a summary of concerns on the plan and new lease policies from six tenant council presidents. She highlighted a few issues, such as eliminating evictions after four late payments and allowing the city to perform inspections.

Housing conditions and changes in the rules have sparked a recent surge of activism through the city's public housing developments. For the last six weeks, residents have been attending rallies, agency meetings and a hearing held by the city's Human Relations Commission.

The agency's board of commissioners is to hold its monthly meeting at 4: 30 p.m. tomorrow at the housing authority offices.

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