Madeline M. Petty, who has been nominated to head the D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development, told a City Council committee considering her appointment yesterday that she wants to reorganize the agency to improve the management of public housing and housing production.
Petty, who was the department's deputy director until her appointment as acting director in October, talked about her reorganization plans after some council members voiced dissatisfaction with the department's performance and suggested reducing its size.
"What I've seen to date, I have not been satisfied with," said Nadine P. Winter (D-Ward 6). " . . . I'm looking for an aggressive, creative and innovative housing director. What bothers me is that I have not seen any plans that give me any hope we will be better off six months from now."
Winter was Petty's sharpest critic during the confirmation hearing held by the council's Committee on Housing and Economic Development.
A number of members stressed that if Petty is confirmed, they want a greater emphasis placed on housing problems in specific wards.
The housing department, which has 801 staff positions and a budget of $111.4 million, operates nearly 12,000 units of city-owned housing, oversees the city's urban renewal program and makes loans for home purchase and rehabilitation.
Charlene Drew Jarvis (D-Ward 4), the committee's chairman, criticized the agency's size.
"The department of housing is just too big," Jarvis told a reporter after the hearing.
"There is just too much responsibility that resides in one department head," she said.
Petty said during the hearing that there was no "quick fix" for the city's housing problems. She said she would seek to increase the number of deputy directors from one to three, but was vague about other reorganization details.
Jarvis said that her committee would vote within 20 days on whether to recommend Petty's nomination to the full council.
In other action, the committee voted to send to the full council two proposals for federal Urban Development Action Grants (UDAG) totaling $2.6 million.
The District wants $1.9 million to help finance the development of a $15.9 million shopping center for Fort Lincoln, a city-sponsored new town.
The long-awaited shopping area would be built at the corner of 33rd Place and South Dakota Avenue.
The other proposal seeks $700,000 to help the Judiciary Square Development Group Limited Partnership purchase land for a 200-room hotel to be built at 500 H St. NW. The entire project would cost $13 million.