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Posted at 11:42 AM ET, 03/14/2011

Prince George’s gets new housing director

Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III has named Eric C. Brown, a former executive director of the Annapolis Housing Authority, as the acting Director of the Prince George’s County Department of Housing and Community Development.

Brown will replace Betty Hager Francis, who has been managing the department on a temporary basis since Baker’s inauguration in December.

“The Prince George’s County Department of Housing and Community Development is a critical department to thousands of Prince George’s County families and residents,” Baker said in a statement. “It was a priority of my administration to find the right leader to improve the service, reputation, and management of this department.”

The beleaguered department has been at the center of the county’s pay-to-play scandal.

According to the indictment against former County Executive Jack B. Johnson, Johnson and another public official accepted things of value -- including money, trip expenses, airline tickets, rounds of golf, mortgage payments and in-kind campaign contributions -- from business owners and developers in return for official favors, including housing grant funding.

The indictment doesn't name the other public official, but it says that the official was Johnson's housing director. James Johnson is the former director of the Prince George's County Department of Housing and Community Development.

The department has also been criticized by the federal government for the way it has handled a program that distributes federal money to create affordable housing in the county.

Last year, the county was forced to return $2 million to the federal government after failing to meet a five-year deadline for spending the money.

And in October 2008, the county nearly lost $5 million in HOME funds after failing to meet a deadline for earmarking the money.

In addition to his work in Annapolis, Brown has served as executive director of the Meridian (Mississippi) Housing Authority. He has also worked as deputy executive director of housing for agencies in New Orleans, Philadelphia and Baltimore.

The Prince George’s County Council must confirm Brown’s appointment.

By  |  11:42 AM ET, 03/14/2011

 
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