What next for Annapolis Housing? Anne Arundel County: Agency must define what it wants after ousting Greene as director.

December 02, 1996

BY PUSHING OUT Harold S. Greene as its executive director, the Annapolis Housing Authority has set itself adrift. Despite releasing a list of particulars against Mr. Greene, it appears that personality differences, rather than a conflict over policies, was behind his removal.

Before hiring a replacement, the commission members who oversee federally subsidized housing in the state capital had better reach a consensus on direction and priorities.

Sheltering about 5,000 tenants, or nearly one-fifth of Annapolis' population, the authority is the city's largest landlord. As a result, its policies have a profound effect on the people in its 10 housing complexes, as well as residents who live near them. If Annapolis is to remain a pleasant place, the housing authority must be an efficient and well-run manager of real estate.

At the moment, the agency faces two distinct sets of problems.

The first has to do with the condition of its units. Many are old and in need of substantial repairs. Others need upgrading of heating, air-conditioning and ventilation systems. Keeping ahead of the normal maintenance and repair needs has always been a struggle.

The second set of problems involves poverty. Many of the residents don't have jobs or hold low-wage ones. They don't have the skills or education to improve their lot. Crime and drugs bedevil a number of the complexes. In the past, the authority has started a number of programs to address these problems, but the results have been meager.

Which set of problems does the board want the new director to tackle?

Before hiring a leader, the commissioners ought to map out their goals and an appropriate plan of action. That would at least give the next director a fighting chance of fulfilling the board's wishes.

In his seven years in Annapolis, Harold Greene may not have been popular with some members of the City Council, the housing board or the staff, but the New York native was able to restore order to a bankrupt agency that had been riddled with corruption in the 1980s.

Returning to the kind of management that allowed bid-rigging and kickbacks would be a disservice to the housing authority's tenants as well as other Annapolitans.

Pub Date: 12/02/96

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