[Hpn] Annapolis, MD - Public Housing Authority Board Grows - Washington Post - June 27, 2002

H. C. Covington H. C. Covington" <icanamerica@bellsouth.net
Sun, 30 Jun 2002 19:33:40 -0500

Public Housing Authority Board Grows:
New Members Vow to Seek Change

By Nelson Hernandez - Washington Post - June 27, 2002

Three new commissioners were appointed last week to the board that supervises
the Annapolis Housing Authority, bringing promises of improved living conditions
for the 2,800 people who live in the city's public housing developments.

Annapolis Mayor Ellen O. Moyer (D) named Trudy McFall, chairman of Homes for
America; Pat Holliday, president of the Annapolis Gardens' tenant council; and
Frank Yates, a Glenwood High Rise resident and former mayoral candidate, as the
newest members of the authority's Board of Commissioners.

McFall will replace Loretta Hall, whose five-year term expires at the end of
July. Unlike other appointments the mayor makes, the future commissioners do not
require the approval of the City Council.

The addition of Holliday and Yates will bring the size of the board to seven
members, an expansion that the Maryland General Assembly approved in April.

All three appointees vowed to improve living conditions in the authority's 1,104
public housing units, many of which are between 50 and 60 years old and falling

Political observers will be carefully watching how the new members interact with
Patricia Holden Croslan, the authority's controversial director, when they hold
their first meeting in September.

Croslan rescued the troubled authority from bankruptcy after taking office in
1998. But her critics have said she neglects the authority's aging housing units
and has been known to disrespect tenants. Some vocal residents say Croslan
should be ousted from her $100,900-a-year job, but so far the majority of the
board has supported her.

The stir over Croslan made the expansion of the board a political football
during the General Assembly's last legislative session, with Croslan's backers
accusing Moyer of trying to pack the commission with appointees critical of the
embattled director, in what the backers called "a blatant power grab" aimed at
firing her. Among Croslan's supporters in the struggle was Howard Pinskey, the
board's chairman.

Moyer said the expansion was necessary to add people with special skills to the
board and increase tenant representation. She denied that the move was an
attempt to overthrow Croslan. The new board will include two members who are
residents of public housing, one of whom must be a senior citizen.

As a compromise, Anne Arundel delegates reduced the proposed size of the board
from nine to seven members and ruled that a super-majority of five votes would
be required to buy out Croslan's contract. Four of the board's members have been
appointed by Moyer.

The new members of the board said they would try to work with Croslan.

"I'm willing to work with her if she's willing to work with me," said Holliday,
who worked on a team Moyer appointed to study public housing. "If there's a
will, there's going to be a way."

Pinskey was also optimistic about working with the new commissioners, saying
that Croslan's status was less of an issue than it was a few months ago.

"I think on balance it's a good group of people," he said of the new appointees.
"I think they can all bring different things to the table."

Croslan did not return calls seeking comment.

Holliday said her priorities were telling residents about the opportunities
available to them and getting grants from the federal government. "My focus is
going to be the community," said Holliday, the president of the Annapolis
Gardens and Bowman Court tenant council for the last three years. "There's so
much going on for the residents of public housing, and the people here in
Annapolis don't have a clue."

McFall, another member of Moyer's public housing team, also said she did not
bring any prejudices against Croslan to the table. "I certainly don't have any
agenda about Pat Croslan, nor do I believe the mayor does," she said. "It's not
about personalities, it's about the policies and processes of how the authority
does things."

McFall will bring an extensive background in affordable housing issues to the
board, with experience in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
and years at state housing agencies. "I think that the first issue for the
housing authority is how to do a better job with the maintenance of their
properties," she said of her plans, which include creating a program for on-site
property management.

Yates, a white-bearded Annapolis fixture who recently moved into the Glenwood
High Rise development for senior residents, is something of an unknown quantity.

As a mayoral candidate last year, he gained a reputation for eccentricity with
his slogan "Sane government doesn't work." Among his campaign promises was a vow
to build a "rainbow center" to bring together different communities. He wound up
getting 46 votes in the Democratic primary, or about 1.5 percent of the vote.

Moyer seemed confident in Yates despite his offbeat past.

"He certainly has passion and an interest in what he wants to do," she said. "I
hope that he's taken seriously."

 2002 The Washington Post Company

H. C. Covington, Nonprofit Knowledge Specialist
Homeless and Housing News