Housing agency's rating rises
The HCDCH improves from last year's scoring as "troubled"
The state's public housing agency has fixed many of the problems identified a year ago by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and its overall performance is now considered "standard," the federal agency said.
The Housing and Community Development Corporation of Hawaii received a 76 percent passing score under the Public Housing Assessment System for fiscal year 2005, HUD officials said in a letter to Stephanie Aveiro, the executive director of the public housing agency.
"We'd like to be a 'high performer,' but we will settle for standard," Aveiro said. "We're very, very pleased."
The assessment system rates agencies as "high-performing," "standard" or "troubled."
Last year, HUD rated the Hawaii agency as "troubled," and gave it until September to comply with a list of 120 directives. The mandates included quickening the turnaround time for getting a vacated public housing unit ready for new tenants, increasing rent collections, improving timeliness for evictions and improving the administration of its rent subsidy program, known as Section 8.
The agency could have faced sanctions, cutbacks or even a federal takeover.
In a Nov. 4-dated letter to Aveiro, HUD Director of Public Housing Michael Flores said not all of the targets listed by HUD had been accomplished by the Sept. 30 deadline, but he was satisfied that state has made "acceptable progress."
The federal agency will work with the state to develop an improvement plan to address the unmet directives, Flores stated.
The public housing agency has faced scrutiny from lawmakers since HUD's 2004 evaluation.
Lawmakers introduced bills in the House and Senate calling for an audit of the HCDCH, although none advanced.
Senate Housing Chairman Ron Menor (D, Mililani) had recommended that HCDCH be split into two agencies to better handle the state's public housing needs. He also suggested that Aveiro and her administration resign if the agency failed to meet HUD's September requirements.
Aveiro credited her staff with making the needed changes to earn the improved performance grade after just one year.
The Hawaii housing agency, established in 1998, manages 5,363 federally funded public housing units statewide. The agency also manages more than 2,000 units for low-income and elderly residents and provides financing to private and nonprofit organizations that build affordable rental and for-sale housing units.