The city government's landlord for public housing angrily lashed out at Washington's Advisory Neighborhood Commissions yesterday, accusing them of unfairly criticizing project conditions while failing to support efforts to improve public housing.
"I cannot understand how the ANCs can make bold suggestions for the PMA spending money, when I can find no record of this ANC or any other ANC supporting us at the District or federal level for our budget," Sidney Glee, director of the D.C. Housing Department's property management administration, said at a hearing on public housing yesterday.
"The only involvement I have seen from the ANC is when, in Fairfax Village the ANC fought against PMA efforts to provide decent housing for the poor. This situation has been repeated in the Deanwood area, the 14th Street area and Brentwood."
Glee said later that individual advisory neighborhood commissioners wrote to Barry and spoke publicly in early 1980 against the Villager project adjacent to Fairfax Village, on Pennsylvania Avenue SE near the Maryland line. Other individual ANC members opposed the Deanwood Gardens project early this year and last week testified against a plan to sell city-owned land at Girard and 14th streets NW for subsidized housing, he said.
Glee told the hearing yesterday that he knew of only one ANC commissioner in the city who "openly supported public housing, not by words, but by action." He later identified that person as John Lormans of ANC 7E03, who led a beautification program for the grounds of East Capitol dwellings.
Glee was the main speaker at the second round of combined Ward 2 and 6 ANC hearings on public housing, which began last week with a procession of residents complaining about leaking roofs, broken gas lines and other maintenance problems.
Yesterday Glee had some complaints of his own. "We don't have the funds and resources to deal with the dilapidated condition of several projects . It's not that we don't care. It's that we can't do anything about it. Our staff has been reduced drastically, and rents go unpaid for months."
A GAO report made public this week said the city has failed to collect about $3.3 million in rents owed by public housing tenants.
"The ANCs and other groups should work with us to understand the facts before doing other things that tend to distort the facts," he contended, adding later, "If I seem angry, maybe I am and maybe it is time."
"We don't question that you've done a job. The question is the adequacy of the job," retorted ANC2D President W. Lloyd Reeves, speaking for the ANCs at the hearing. "We have tried to work with you and we will continue to work with you. We're here not to castigate the ANC or the PMA."
Reeves said that some of the neighborhood commissioners who coordinated the hearings are project residents themselves and others have pushed for improvements in public housing on several occasions.
He said the instances of ANCs opposing new housing projects that Glee cited happened outside the jurisdiction of the groups represented at the hearing.
At yesterday's session, Glee cited numerous improvements PMA has made in public housing during Mayor Marion Barry's administration. In his reelection campaign, Barry has emphasized the steps his administration has taken to upgrade public housing, and has pointed to $91 million that has been allocated for future project renovations.
"We have made some progress and more is yet to come," Glee said. "We still have kitchens and bathrooms that need replacing. We still have water that is still running and pipes still leaking. We still have doors to buildings and apartments than need to be replaced. We still have boiler rooms that need water treatment and many heating systems that need to be separated from the hot water system so that the boiler does not have to be on 365 days a year . . . . "
"But in spite of all odds," he added, "public housing in this city is on the upswing."