WASHINGTON - D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser wants to dissolve the D.C. House Authority's (DCHA) governing board after a federal report from the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), pointed out the agency's inadequate management and poor oversight.
On Thursday, Bowser proposed legislation alongside D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson to create a new Stabilization and Reform Board overseeing the DCHA.
The proposal would create an eight member board to replace the DCHA's current Board of Commissioners. The seven voting members of the board would be appointed by the Mayor.
According to a press release from the Mayor's Office, the new board will provide "the governance to DCHA to address the findings outlined in the recent report from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) as well as create a more sustainable path forward for DCHA."
A press release indicates the Stabilization and Reform Board will institute new procedures and monitor current ones, to help DCHA fulfill its mission, including developing and implementing a plan to increase occupancy of DCHA's housing units, identifying and repairing residential units in substandard conditions, developing and implementing a sustainable property maintenance plan, and improving the wait list management for housing units.
The Stabilization and Reform Board would be in place for three years until a new DCHA Board of Directors succeeds it.
In September, the 72-page report highlighted how DCHA was failing in several areas. They include poor living conditions, rundown residences, long wait lists, and procurement problems with management. The report also points out DCHA Executive Director Brenda Donald's lack of expertise and training while shedding light on the board's poor oversight and transparency.
The public housing agency serves 50,000 people throughout the District.
In November, the D.C. Council held a roundtable meeting with Director Donald to discuss what the agency is doing to address the problems highlighted by the report. Donald told the council that she isn't taking the problems lightly.
"We take them very seriously," she said during the roundtable. "We’re not surprised because we live with this every day that we are in this agency."
In a letter directed to U.S. Housing Secretary Marsha Fudge, Mayor Bowser indicated that "Director Donald and her team have already made progress in addressing some of the more serious issues."
Director Donald released the following statement in October in response to the HUD report:
"The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s assessment report uncovers cumulative problems resulting from years of management neglect at the agency. These problems didn’t materialize overnight and now that I am here with a strong team in place we are going to fix the problems. But they can’t be fixed overnight.
Our accomplishments since I took the helm include stabilizing the budget, eliminating a historical deficit, negotiating outdated labor contracts, and making a dent in an enormous backlog of work orders spanning several years. We’ve moved forward with several long-delayed capital projects including Kenilworth Courts, Greenleaf and Barry Farm redevelopments.
While leading through a crisis is challenging, we are focused on our transformation and we are confident we will rebuild. We have 60 days to respond to HUD with a corrective action plan and six months to implement it. We invite you to watch us work! You can stay updated as we make progress by visiting our website."