A seven-month search for a new director for the county's beleagueredpublic housing authority is expected to end soon.
Housing officials hope to fill the executive director's post by September, said Charles St. Lawrence, chairman of the agency's seven-member governing board.
The last director, June C. Waller, left in January after 18 months at the helm.
"I'm hoping we will make a selection soon," St. Lawrence said. "I certainly didn't anticipate it taking this long."
Asearch committee chaired by Walter Chitwood, assistant to County Executive Robert R. Neall, picked 20 leading candidates from a pool of 260 applicants in May. The committee interviewed them and narrowed thelist to four.
One of the main candidates then was Donald Rosenshine, an Annapolis resident who headed the Housing Authority from 1978 until 1985.
In recent weeks, two other candidates were shown around the seven public housing communities managed by the authority.
The search took longer than expected because the authority wanted to find an experienced manager who would overcome outstanding problems, St. Lawrence said.
"It really has become clear in this process thatrunning a public housing authority in 1991 is different than in 1971," he said. "The person has to have different knowledge and skills. What we have is a changing occupation, if you will. And we were looking for a rare commodity."
The authority also wants to hire a director who will stay on, he said. Four directors have resigned in the last six years, leaving an agency scarred by the turnover and some administrative mistakes.
In the past seven months, the agency has begunto turn the corner. The vacancy rate has dropped substantially sinceJanuary, though at least 60 of the 1,026 units still are empty. One building of 12 apartments is boarded-up and awaiting renovation.
The authority also has applied for modernization money and a $249,980 drug elimination grant. On-site managers returned to the communities,and a number of tenant programs were begun this spring and summer.