HUD Archives: News Releases

HUD No. 04-137
Donna White
(202) 708-0685

For Release
November 4, 2004

Outgoing receiver lauded for numerous accomplishments

WASHINGTON - The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) today announced the appointment of James Abernathy as the new receiver of the Sanford Housing Authority (SHA) and Carmen Valenti, a public housing specialist, as chairman of the SHA board. Abernathy replaces Larry Knightner, who led the SHA receivership team since HUD took over the troubled agency in August 2003.

"We are confident these two long-time HUD employees will pick up where Mr. Knightner is leaving off," said HUD Assistant Secretary Michael Liu, who made the announcement. "Abernathy, who was already part of the receivership team, will continue improvements of SHA's management and housing conditions for the residents."

Abernathy, who will be based in Sanford, already has a solid grasp of the issues facing SHA since he served as the acting modernization/maintenance director since HUD's takeover. In this capacity he oversaw the daily maintenance of 480 apartments as well as the modernization and turnover of more than 130 apartments.

Abernathy has been with HUD for approximately 26 years, serving 23 of them at HUD's Jacksonville (Fla.) field office serving as a public housing engineer and a design representative in the Office of Housing. Prior to his HUD career, Abernathy was a sanitary engineer for the City of Jackson, Miss., and a civil engineer in private industry. Abernathy holds a bachelor's degree in biomechanical engineering from Mississippi State University.

Valenti, a HUD employee for 26-years, has held numerous management positions within the agency, including director of Public Housing in HUD's New Jersey field office. Since February 2002, Valenti has served as the Board of Commissioners for the Housing Authority of New Orleans, another troubled housing authority HUD took over. Valenti was instrumental in turning around the Camden (N.J.) Housing Authority from its troubled status.

Under Knightner, SHA has made marked improvements using existing housing authority resources. In less than one year, he and his team are credited with putting more than 130 apartments back on-line.

"We appreciate Mr. Knightner's commitment and leadership in Sanford over the past 15 months," said Liu. "He has served the residents of this community well."

In addition to bringing apartments back on-line, Knightner and his team were responsible for improved resident services, eliminating hundreds of backlogged work orders. Instead of residents waiting three days for an emergency repair, they now get responses within 24 hours. Knightner, who will resume his responsibilities as coordinator at HUD's Public Housing Program Center in Columbia, S.C., is also leaving four resident councils he formed who are integrally involved in activities at SHA that affect residents.

Earlier this year SHA secured a $4 million loan from Wachovia Bank that is being used to make major capital improvements to all six public housing developments.

HUD is the nation's housing agency committed to increasing homeownership, particularly among minorities; creating affordable housing opportunities for low-income Americans; and supporting the homeless, elderly, people with disabilities and people living with AIDS. The Department also promotes economic and community development as well as enforces the nation's fair housing laws. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet and

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Content Archived: April 22, 2010