More than 100 tenants of public housing projects in Alexandria turned out this week to protest the recent dismissal of Harland K. Heumann, deputy executive director of the city Housing and Redevelopment Authority.
At a meeting Monday of the Housing Authority board, the residents also questioned reports that the authority has plans to sell some public housing units. Board members and City Manager Douglas Harman promptly denied the reports.
But the issue foremost in the tenants' minds was the dismissal of Heumann, who was told last month he was being fired after 28 years with the city government. Heumann's dismissal came after an apparent dispute with City Manager Harman, who serves as executive director of the Housing Authority. Heumann is slated to leave his $45,000-a-year post March 1.
Michael Hardy, representing the Alexandria Tenant Council, presented a petition to the housing board urging that Heumann be reinstated. The petition, which Hardy said was signed by 535 housing project tenants, stated that Heumann "has balanced well the needs of tenants) . . . with the maintenance of a sound (housing) authority."
Board Chairman Rose Berler acknowledged the support shown by many tenants for Heumann, but refused to discuss the issue at the meeting because, she said, it is "a personnel matter" that can be considered in closed session only.
Heumann, who attended the board meeting, said later that he "had only heard rumors" about a petition being circulated. "I think it's a very fine effort," he said. "It certainly indicates a feeling of support for my 27 1/2 years" with the city government.
In other matters, Berler and Harman repeatedly denied reports that the housing authority is considering selling subsidized housing units once the 40-year mortgages on some units are paid off in 1982. A flyer, of unknown origin, had been distributed to many tenants charging that the authority would be discussing the sale of public housing in the so-called "Parker-Madden" area of the city.
The area, bounded by Fairfax, Princess, Pitt and Pendleton streets, includes 211 subsidized housing units.
"It's very cruel," Harman said, "that anyone might suggest selling public housing. Every piece of housing stock, no matter where it is very valuable to us."
Berler also denied reports that the possible relocation of the jail and police headquarters might lead to pressures on the city to sell some public housing.Harman supported Berler and noted, "There is absolutely nothing in the jail study about the surrounding area. It (the jail location) has no relationship to public housing in the city."
Berler assured the tenants that there would be many other meetings and opportunities to discuss "the 1982 story" once the housing authority and its staff receive information from the mortgage holders -- the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development -- about the expiration of the 40-year mortgage.
"You've got to go home and rest easy," Berler said. "This (selling public housing) is not what we're talking about."