February 6, 2006
HUD NAMES NEW ADMINISTRATOR AND BOARD FOR VIHA
New management structure to expand agency's recovery
WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced today a new management structure for the Virgin Islands Housing Authority (VIHA) to strengthen current federal recovery efforts.
HUD Assistant Secretary Orlando Cabrera has named attorney and highly experienced businessman Michael R. Hollis as the Executive Administrator for VIHA. He also appointed a three-member panel that will serve as the housing authority board of directors. The board members will include Renee Glover, the well-respected executive director of the Atlanta (Ga.) Housing Authority and two senior-level HUD housing experts Deborah Hernandez and Carmen Valenti.
"Combined, this board has more than 60 years of housing experience," said Cabrera, who heads HUD's Office of Public and Indian Housing. "Now under the experienced, strong leadership of Mr. Hollis, I am confident that VIHA will meet its new objectives."
Hollis is replacing Jose Bosque-Perez, who resumed his duties in January as a housing program expert in Washington, D.C. He initiated many of the new financial and management practices that are now in place at the housing authority.
"I want to acknowledge the outstanding service of Mr. Bosque-Perez," said Cabrera. "He served the residents of the Virgin Islands well."
Hollis, who begins his official duties today, will manage the day-to-day operations of the housing authority. Hollis will take VIHA to the next phase of its recovery by developing long-term strategy to create new management and financial policies and practices and maintain those created by the initial HUD recovery teams. He will also address the physical condition of the public housing developments to ensure resident are living in safe, sanitary housing. He will report to the board, which will be responsible for oversight of the recovery plan and ensure VIHA's recovery advances in a timely manner.
An attorney by profession and businessman by experience, Hollis comes to VIHA with a myriad of experience in both the public and private sector community. He has provided advice to or conducted business transactions with some of the nation's leading companies, including General Electric Capital Corporation, Aetna Life, Equitable Life, Exxon-Mobile Corporation, John Wieland Homes and Neighborhoods, Inc.
During the past year, Hollis served as a Special Advisor to Smith Real Estate Services, a private sector real estate advisory firm that assisted HUD with VIHA's recovery effort. As a result, Hollis is knowledgeable of VIHA and its many challenges.
"When HUD assumed control of VIHA, the agency was hemorrhaging its resources at the expense of serving its tenants," said Cabrera, "The initial HUD teams stopped the bleeding and stabilized the agency"s operations. The agency is now ready for this next step that will move the housing authority's recovery into high gear."
HUD assumed control of VIHA in 2003 after declaring the housing authority in substantial default of its obligation to maintain complete and accurate financial records. In less than a year, federal receivership teams, most recently led by Bosque-Perez, have resolved some of VIHA?s numerous financial deficiencies, including submitting a balanced budget in consecutive years, which had not been done in many years under previous management. In addition, HUD teams negotiated a repayment agreement with Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority that has fully satisfied the $4.16 million VIHA debt to the utility company.
HUD teams have also been instrumental in filling vacant units. There were 822 vacant units with more than 500 that needed extensive repair. More than 250 units that were rehabilitated are now occupied. HUD management secured two HOPE VI Demolition grants, totaling $1.7 million, were used to demolish the aged Louis E. Brown Villas.
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.