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D.C. Housing Authority Director to Resign Amid Reports of Discontent

Michael P. Kelly took over in 2000. Wait lists remain a challenge.
Michael P. Kelly took over in 2000. Wait lists remain a challenge. (Hamil R. Harris - Twp)
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By Nikita Stewart
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The executive director of the D.C. Housing Authority is resigning his post at the end of the month amid increasing talk that Mayor Adrian M. Fenty wants the agency steered in another direction.

Michael Kelly, who took the helm of the authority in 2000, is going to "explore other opportunities in the affordable housing industry," according to a news release issued Monday by the authority's Board of Commissioners.

But housing officials across the District said privately that the board, now stacked with Fenty appointees, was under increasing pressure to dismiss Kelly, who has spent almost a decade wrestling with a waiting list for housing. One in 10 District residents -- more than 25,000 families -- is on the waiting list, according to estimates the agency released this year.

Fenty (D), whose 2006 campaign promises included maintaining and increasing affordable housing, has made the issue a priority, joining Kelly this month to announce the demolition of the old Capitol View Plaza towers in Southeast Washington to make way for the $31 million, 770-unit HOPE VI development.

Kelly released a statement that outlined his accomplishments as executive director, including securing federal and private funds for housing; improving security at housing complexes with surveillance cameras; and creating a call center. "I am appreciative of the extraordinary partnerships I was able to develop, and look forward to watching DCHA thrive in the future," he said.

In his own statement, Fenty said: "I commend Michael Kelly for providing a decade of outstanding, dedicated service in public housing for District residents. On behalf of the city, I applaud his efforts and wish him much success in his future endeavors."

Bill Slover Jr., appointed by Fenty in May as chairman of the Board of Commissioners, credited Kelly with transforming the agency into a "national model."

"His legacy is the creation of a strong, innovative, and skilled Housing Authority dedicated to both low-income families and to building better communities," Slover said in a news release. "He will be missed."

The board announced that it would conduct a national search for a permanent director, although talk in the housing community is that the commissioners might pluck a candidate from the Fenty administration. David Jannarone, director of development in the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, is said to be a candidate. "I'm not going to comment," Jannarone said.

Adrianne Todman, the housing authority's deputy executive director for administration and external affairs, was named interim executive director.


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