D.C. Mayor Marion Barry is scheduled to announce today a handpicked management team to run the city's deteriorating and deficit-plagued public housing projects, home to nearly 10 percent of Washington's residents.
After a 10-month nationwide search to find a new chief for the Property Management Administration, the branch of the District of Columbia's housing department that operates the nearly12,000 public housing units in the city, Barry has decided to appoint Sidney Glee, 39, who has held the job in an acting capacity for the past two and a half years.
The mayor is scheduled to announce the appointment today during an afternoon press conference when he also will promise extensive renovations at several projects and improved maintenance and living conditions for all the projects, home for more than 52,000 low-income tenants, mostly elderly women and single mothers and their children and grandchildren.
In addition, the mayor is scheduled to announce the appointment of Zirl S. Smith, 34, deputy director of the public housing authority for Toledo, Ohio, and its surrounding metropolitan area, to the same post here, and Lenox Elmore, 46, as the director of management here. Elmore, who lives in Silver Spring, currently works at the National Corporation for Housing Partnerships, a private nonprofit organization that builds and manages federally subsidized housing across the country.
Glee, who was a middle-level bureaucrat in the city's health and welfare department until city housing director Robert L. Moore made him acting administrator for public housing, first declined to seek the job permanently, then reconsidered.
Both Smith and Elmore currently manage housing projects that are much smaller than Washington's. Toledo and its surrounding area have about 4,000 units, while the Corporation for Housing Partnerships manages about the same number of units of subsidized housing under Elmore in the Washington metropolitan area, Glee said.
While Toledo and Washington share many of the same problems of old projects plagued with the chronic breakdowns of heat and hot water systems, Toledo "is not a financially distressed authority and it is fairly well-managed," said Clyde McHenry, former chief of public housing at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
With the new management team, Barry -- who is expected to make a bid for reelection next year -- has mandated an upgrading of the city's public housing administration, which has a reputation as a backwater in the city's housing department.
Although the mayor long has promised to improve the conditions of public housing, most projects have remained shabby and mired in red ink.