April 14, 2006
HUD NAMES NEW RECOVERY ADVISOR AND RECEIVER TO ADVANCE CURRENT HANO HURRICANE RECOVERY EFFORTS
New management to strengthen services to displaced families, progress public housing plan
WASHINGTON - U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Assistant Secretary Orlando Cabrera appointed two senior HUD managers to serve as Receiver and Recovery Advisor for the Housing Authority of New Orleans today. The new management team will further the city's public housing recovery efforts.
Cabrera named C. Donald Babers, a 35-year HUD veteran, HANO's Recovery Advisor and William Thorson, another HUD manager with more than 30 years experience, the Receiver.
"Combined, this team has more than 60 years of housing experience," said Cabrera, who heads up HUD's Office of Public and Indian Housing. "Messrs. Babers and Thorson bring the expertise necessary for our next phase of recovery after the massive destruction Hurricanes Katrina and Rita caused this city's public housing.
"I applaud the commitment and dedication of the current Receiver Nadine Jarmon, Deputy Receiver Lori Moon and HUD's Mirza Negron Morales. Their many sacrifices and untiring service to HANO residents has brought us far since Katrina to allow this transition," said Cabrera.
Babers and Thorson began their official duties on Wednesday. Jarmon and Moon will assist with the transition until mid-May. Negron, who also serves as Public Housing Director in HUD's New York Field Office, will continue to advise Cabrera on HANO.
As Receiver, Thorson will manage the day-to-day operations of the housing authority. He will review current assessments of damages to HANO's more than 7,000 public housing units and develop a comprehensive redevelopment plan. As Recovery Advisor, Babers will be responsible for overseeing practices and procedures that will lead to full recovery.
Thorson's most recent assignment at HUD is the Director of HUD's Capital Improvements, the office that manages approximately $2.3 billion in capital improvement funding to more than 3,100 public housing authorities nationwide. He has held numerous management positions within the agency, including overseeing public housing development, maintenance, procurement and energy conservation.
Babers began his career at HUD in the 1970s in HUD's Fort Worth, Tex. Regional Office. He is now Deputy Regional Director of the office. As second in command, Babers supervises HUD programs and services to more than 33 million Americans living in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas, and New Mexico. Babers has served in several management positions at HUD including Field Office Director in Dallas.
HUD took control of the failing housing authority in 2002 to address serious management and financial concerns that plagued the agency for numerous years. These persistent problems led to deterioration of the public housing units, prior to Katrina. HUD's receiver team had begun, through HUD capital improvement programs, a massive redevelopment effort of the city's public housing. Some of HANO's largest public housing developments, including Abundance Square (formerly Desire), River Gardens (formally St. Thomas) Fischer, Florida and Guste, had undergone or were undergoing redevelopment to bring quality public housing back to the city.
Days after Katrina ravaged the city, the receivership team quickly assembled a skeleton staff to continue operations ? establishing satellite offices in Dallas, Houston and Atlanta to help displaced HANO families to find temporary housing and other support services. They successfully helped residents transition back to New Orleans months after the storm. Soon after the storm assessments began to determine what units suffered the least amount of damage. More than 60 percent of HANO's public housing units have mold damage and HANO continues to inspect and repair units to determine they are safe for families to return. There are now 877 families living in Iberville, Hendee Homes, Guste, Fischer and River Gardens and selected scattered sites.
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.