January 21, 2006
FLORIDA HOUSING AUTHORITY RETURNED TO LOCAL CONTROL AFTER TWO YEARS UNDER FEDERAL RECEIVERSHIP
SANFORD - Following two years under federal control, the Sanford (Fla.) Housing Authority was officially returned to local governance today. Housing and Urban Development Assistant Secretary Orlando Cabrera joined former HUD Secretary and current Florida Senator Mel Martinez, Congressman John Mica, Mayor Linda Kuhn and Sanford Housing Authority Executive Director Angel Tua at City Hall to hand over the housing authority.
"In July 2003, Secretary Mel Martinez began the process to provide the Sanford residents a well-run housing authority by directing the Department to assume complete control of the agency," said Cabrera, who heads up the Office of Public and Indian Housing. "I'm proud to stand with Senator Martinez to celebrate a housing authority that's now providing timely services and offering quality housing to the residents."
Congressman Mica first raised concerns about the unacceptable living conditions at Sanford Housing Authority (SHA) properties in June 2003. Martinez responded immediately to Mica's concerns by ordering the agency be taken over by the federal housing agency. HUD cited deplorable living conditions and overall mismanagement of the authority. HUD officially put SHA in receivership in August 2003 and quickly went to work to repair years of neglect, poor management and numerous financial deficiencies.
"The accomplishments here at Sanford are the result of strong leadership and dedicated efforts to make a positive difference in the lives of families that reside here," said Martinez. "Florida is facing an affordable housing crisis right now and we need every resource to meet that need. Rebuilding this authority helps us meet that goal."
"I am pleased that HUD is now returning improved housing units and new management at the Sanford Housing Authority," stated Mica. "HUD responded to my recommendations and has fulfilled its responsibility to ensure that the federal government acts to improve the living conditions for some of our neediest citizens."
In the 29 months HUD headed the agency, 311 public housing units were rehabilitated. Of that number, 160 of those units required total rehabilitation. These units all received new electrical and plumbing systems as well as new kitchens and bathrooms.
All six public housing sites - Castle Brewer Court, William Clark Court, Cowan Moughton Terrace, Edward Higgins Terrace, Redding Gardens and Lake Monroe Terrace - received major repairs, which included replacing old, warn roofs with new roofs, installing new windows, and painting building exteriors. In addition, electrical and plumbing systems were upgraded, kitchens and bathrooms were renovated and units were fitted with new security screen doors, shutters, and window security screens.
HUD receivership teams headed by long-time HUD housing experts, Larry Knightner, James Abernathy and Carmen Valenti also instituted sound financial and management policies to ensure efficient operations. The agency restored trust among residents by making necessary repairs in a timely manner. Additionally, resident councils for each development were established so that residents at each community have representation at board meetings.
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.