D.C. Mayor Marion Barry announced yesterday that the District government will spend $61.4 million over the next three years repairing roofs, installing new heating systems and replacing some kitchens and bathrooms in about one-third of the city's 12,000 public housing units.
Speaking at a noon press conference, Barry also formally announced appointment of a new management team to run the problem-plagued public housing administration, but late yesterday afternoon it was unclear whether one of the appointees, Zirl S. Smith of Toledo, Ohio, had actually accepted a post as deputy director for public housing.
John Landry, director of the Lucas Metropolitan Housing Authority in Toledo and Smith's boss, said Smith told him yesterday he had "not accepted the job" in Washington. "He is not going to take it," Landry said.
But Washington officials said Smith had accepted the $41,308-a-year post as deputy director here after he was assured that his wife would receive a job with the city government.
Smith could not be reached for comment last night.
"I'm the first to admit that some of our public housing units are falling down and not fit to live in," said Barry, adding that his program announced yesterday is the most comprehensive and expensive effort ever launched by the city government to modernize and repair a major part of its public housing units, home to 52,000 people, nearly 10 percent of Washington's residents. "We will do everything we can to bring public housing up to liveable standards," the mayor said.
The city plans to completely rehabilitate four large public housing projects: James Creek in Southwest and Lincoln Heights, Richardson and East Capitol Dwellings in Southeast. At other projects, it would install new roofs, replace worn out and balky heating systems and put in new gas lines.
To improve the projects' management, Barry said he appointed Sidney Glee, 39, to the $45,000-a-year post of public housing director. Glee has been acting director for 2 1/2 years.
In addition to naming Smith, 34, as deputy director, Barry appointed Lenox Elmore, 46, as property manager. Elmore is currently an area property manager for the National Corporation for Housing Partnerships, a private nonprofit organization that builds and manages subsidized housing.
According to Glee, Smith agreed to come to Washington on Friday after he was assured that his wife would receive a government job. Before that, Smith had told city officials in a Mailgram, "I hope you don't mind if I don't accept your offer until Diane his wife has either received an acceptable offer or letter of assurance that she will be employed within a reasonable amount of time."
Glee refused yesterday to say what job Diane Smith has been offered.