Mikulski asks HUD to give city more time

Senator's request follows audit detailing Section 8 problems

April 06, 2001|BY A SUN STAFF WRITER

U.S. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski has asked the nation's top housing official to give Mayor Martin O'Malley's administration a chance to fix the city's troubled Section 8 rent-subsidy program, which was the subject of an unusually scathing audit released last week.

"I ask that you withhold taking any action and give the City of Baltimore an opportunity to correct the problems and turn the program around," Mikulski wrote in an April 4 letter to Mel Martinez, the secretary of housing and urban development, a day after she met with him.

The audit by HUD's inspector general described the Housing Authority of Baltimore City's Section 8 program as a "barely functional" operation that had misspent money and forfeited $124 million that could have been used to place thousands more low-income families in affordable housing.

The audit noted that many of the problems occurred under O'Malley's predecessor, Kurt L. Schmoke.

The audit credited O'Malley for hiring Housing Commissioner Paul T. Graziano.

Mikulski, a Maryland Democrat who sits on a Senate appropriations subcommittee that oversees HUD's budget, said the "new team ... should be given a chance to succeed for at least one year."

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