After more than five sometimes-stormy years in charge of Annapolis' 10 aging public housing neighborhoods, P. Holden Croslan will step down as executive director of the Annapolis Housing Authority, the agency announced yesterday.
Croslan had been praised by federal regulators for pulling the agency out of trouble administratively, but critics have blasted her for not doing enough to improve living conditions in the city's 1,100 public housing units.
Trudy McFall, chairwoman of the Housing Authority's board, said yesterday that Croslan's decision to resign as of Monday was a mutual agreement between Croslan and the board.
"She was desirous of leaving, and we thought it was an appropriate time," said McFall, who joined the board and was elected chairwoman in September. McFall would not say whether Croslan, who makes about $104,000 as executive director, was paid to leave her post before the expiration of her contract in Jan. 2005. McFall and the authority's attorney, Alan J. Hyatt, said that a confidentiality clause in the termination agreement between Croslan and the board prohibits them from divulging those details.
Croslan declined to comment on her resignation yesterday when reached by telephone.
In a statement she said: "I am proud of the accomplishments that the Housing Authority has achieved during my tenure as executive director and I now wish to pursue other career opportunities available to me."
A North Carolina native, Croslan, 55, was picked out of a field of more than 80 candidates to lead the Annapolis agency in 1998. She quickly drew praise for pulling the 2,400-tenant Housing Authority of the City of Annapolis from the brink of bankruptcy and significantly raising its evaluation score from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
But the improved HUD score came at a price. She fired 40 of the agency's 100 employees - people she said were in mostly do-nothing jobs - for a savings of about $1 million a year. She also cut some social and recreational activities and began evicting tenants who were convicted of drug crimes or who didn't pay rent.
This no-nonsense approach won her fans, but it also drew critics who have said she is insensitive to residents' concerns.
Croslan - who is African-American - has been accused of racism at public meetings that criticize conditions in the city's public housing units. Some things that Croslan pointed to as successes were used against her, such as the $2 million reserve fund that some said should have been used to improve aging housing units immediately.
As the authority's board launches a nationwide search for a new director, deputy director Clyde Caldwell will serve as acting executive director.