HUD No. 05-046
April 12, 2005
HUD TAKES OVER SARASOTA HOUSING AUTHORITY, APPOINTS RECEIVER
Agency Sends In Turnaround Specialist
WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has taken over the City of Sarasota Housing Authority (HACS) today at the request of the newly appointed HACS board of directors. HUD named Carmen Valenti, a senior public housing specialist, as receiver.
Valenti, who arrived at the housing authority headquarters today has begun his official duties. He will take over management of the housing authority and begin the assessment process to restore stability to the agency.
"We are confident this receiver will take the necessary actions to correct deficiencies at the housing authority that has led to the takeover," said HUD Assistant Secretary Michael Liu. "Mayor Martin and the City Commission made a bold and needed step in appointing a new board that are concerned about the residents. We look forward to working with the city."
In the upcoming days, Valenti will thoroughly assess the management, financial and physical condition of HACS and then implement an action plan. He will also complete a comprehensive review all HACS policies.
"As we have done in New Orleans, Puerto Rico and Sanford, HUD will manage for results," said Liu. "We will approach management of the housing authority in an honest, open fashion. Residents can be assured they will continue to get the services they need during this period and see a difference in their community."
With the takeover of HACS, HUD has possession of five public housing authorities in the United States, including the Riviera Beach and Sanford Housing Authorities in Florida. The others are the Housing Authority of New Orleans and the Virgin Islands Housing Authority. There are approximately 3,400 public housing authorities nationally.
Valenti, a HUD employee for 27-years, has held numerous management positions within the agency, including director of Public Housing in HUD's New Jersey field office. He has been instrumental in managing troubled housing authorities. Since February 2002, he has served as the board of directors for the Housing Authority of New Orleans and in November 2004 assumed the same role at the Sanford Housing Authority. Valenti is also credited with turning around the Camden (N.J.) Housing Authority from its troubled status. Valenti and his wife have been Sarasota residents for the past year.
HUD recently denied HACS' appeal to reverse a troubled designation based on several factors, but specifically pointed out the housing authority's inability to produce documentation that illustrates its financial solvency. In addition, the physical condition of the public housing continued its decline during a HUD review period.
HUD first designated HACS a troubled housing authority in November 2004, when the housing authority scored 51 points overall on HUD's Public Housing Assessment System (PHAS), the assessment tool HUD uses to rate public housing authority performance. Housing authorities must score at least 60 points out of 100 to be designated standard or high performing. Scores below 60 result in the troubled designation. Housing authorities are scored on four performance indicators - financial, management, physical condition and resident satisfaction. Scores in these areas are combined to produce an overall score.
HACS submitted an appeal to HUD December 2004 to raise its overall score. HUD reviewed HACS' appeal and awarded a one-point increase in the agency's physical condition score. Despite the increase, HACS' remained a troubled housing agency with a PHAS overall score of 52.
After two comprehensive reviews of HACS' operations that began August 2004 and included on-site review of management operations, financial status, physical condition and resident satisfaction with living conditions, HUD found numerous problems with the overall condition and management of HACS.
HUD developed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) for HACS that included a timetable and clear steps that would improve its PHAS scores. Unfortunately, the former HACS' board did not concur on the MOA in a timely manner. This action led to Mayor Richard Martin appointing a new board that passed the resolution in a special meeting yesterday for HUD to assume control.
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 espanol.hud.gov.