Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Shaking Up HANO

Posted By on Tue, Oct 6, 2009 at 7:48 PM

In an afternoon press conference, U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan announced a structural change to the scandalous Housing Authority of New Orleans, which has been under HUD receivership since 2002. On Friday, October 9, Donovan will introduce a new 12-member, management team, which includes a new administrator receiver, a general manager, two deputy general managers, a chief financial officer and seven other senior public housing officials.

“Today, we lay out concrete plans to stabilize an agency in HANO that has been, even prior to Hurricane Katrina, deeply troubled, and putting a full team that will be on the ground, running the agency,” Donovan said.

Donovan says he assigned HUD Assistant Secretary Sandy Henriquez to conduct a full review of HANO. Based on her study, Donovan says they decided on an approach that was “more structural in nature,” instead of simply replacing the HANO leadership, which Donovan said didn’t have the enough resources to do the job effectively.

Henriquez says the new team will be in New Orleans by the end of October and its first task will be to conducting a two-month operational and management assessment of all of HANO areas, including finance, development, property management and maintenance, public safety and security, resident services, information technology, audit and compliance.

“The results of this new, independent forensic investigation will become the basis of a new recovery plan that lays out in detail how HANO’s deficiencies can be and will be remedied with time frame for each of those,” Henriquez said.

Henriquez said she expects it will take a full year to stabilize HANO and another 3-5 years to get the agency to the point where it can be returned to local control. Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) was also a part of the press conference and she thanked Donovan for making such a major change in the agency.

“And his keen understanding of the scale of this challenge and his quick action,” Landrieu added.

Diane Johnson, HANO’s current board chair, and Karen Cato-Turner, executive administrator will return to their home states — Johnson to New Jersey and Cato-Turner to Florida — to take new positions with HUD.

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