Wilmington Housing Authority board replaced after audit
Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki and New Castle County Executive Matthew Meyer announced the replacement of virtually all members of the Board of Commissioners of the Wilmington Housing Authority (WHA).
This follows a scathing federal audit of the agency.
The leaders of the city and county governments said it is time to take the state’s largest housing organization in a new direction on behalf of the thousands of people who rely on the agency for their basic housing needs.
The WHA is the largest direct provider of affordable housing in Delaware, serving over 7,000 low and moderate-income residents in the city of Wilmington. The agency manages nearly 2,000 units of public, tax credit and market rate housing and administers nearly 1,900 housing choice vouchers in a variety of programs. The WHA has a combined operating, capital and voucher program budget of more than $30 million annually and is funded entirely by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Under state law, no more than five of the nine commissioners may be registered as members of the same political party.
The governor has the authority to appoint one member, as does the New Castle County Executive, with the remaining seven members appointed by the Mayor of Wilmington. All of the appointees announced are residents of the City of Wilmington.
New Castle County Executive Meyer said today he will appoint Timothy Crawl-Bey to the board. Crawl-Bey is the former Director of Wilmington’s Real Estate and Housing Department. He is the owner of Timothy Crawl-Bey & Associates, a real estate development and consulting entity. Crawl-Bey is also the Executive Director of the Inter-Neighborhood Foundation (INF), a non-profit housing developer that concentrates on revitalizing neighborhoods in East Side, Midtown Brandywine as well as east of I-95 and north of the Brandywine River. Crawl-Bey is a registered Democrat.
Mayor Purzycki today announced six of his seven appointees to the board:
Betty Lewis is a WHA resident who previously served on the board before being removed as a commissioner by the former board chairman. Lewis has lived at the WHA’s Herlihy Apartments for more than 30 years and is an advisor to the Herlihy Resident Council. She is also Chairperson of the WHA’s Resident Advisory Board, which serves as a liaison between WHA residents and management. Lewis is a registered Democrat.
Matthew Heckles is the former Director of Finance, Policy and Planning for the Delaware State Housing Authority who is currently serving as the Assistant Secretary of the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development. Heckles is a member of the Delaware Housing Coalition, past President of the Delaware Chapter of the National Association of Housing and Rehabilitation Organizations (NAHRO) and a former member of the Delaware Hispanic Commission. Heckles is a registered Democrat.
Steve Martin is Executive Director of the non-profit Wilmington Housing Partnership (WHP). Steve reports to a Board of Directors and manages a staff that works to strengthen neighborhoods in danger of deterioration in Wilmington. WHP partners with local non-profit and private entities to acquire, rehabilitate, demolish and construct quality new affordable housing for homeownership. The WHP’s mission is to stabilize neighborhoods, increase housing values, and reduce blight. Martin is a registered Democrat.
Purzycki said his next three appointees are Wilmington residents with whom he became acquainted as they were seeking public office in 2016. The Mayor said each has a passion for public service and is eager to improve Wilmington. They include:
Steven Washington is a lifelong City resident who ran last year as an Independent candidate for Mayor of Wilmington. Washington has a master’s degree in education and has worked in the education field for 26 years. He is currently a special education teacher at the Talley Middle School. Washington, who attended the former Wilmington High School before being bused to McKean High School as part of the school desegregation process, also serves on the Board of Directors of Norfolk State University. Washington is a registered Independent.
James Spadola is a police officer with the City of Newark, Delaware. He is also an Army veteran who served a year-long tour in Iraq in 2003. With a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s degree in business administration, Spadola is widely known for creating several community outreach programs as a police officer including the #HugACop campaign. Spadola is a registered Republican.
Ben Cohen is an Information Technology Manager with the Wilmington law firm of Richards, Layton and Finger. He sought an At-Large seat on Wilmington City Council in 2016. Cohen earned bachelor and master of arts degrees in political science from the University of Delaware. Cohen is immediate past President of the Midtown Brandywine Neighbors Association. He is a registered Republican.
The Mayor will announce an remaining appointee in the next few days.
Governor John Carney said today that current Commissioner Vincent White, who was appointed by former Governor Jack Markell, will be retained as a member of the board. White is a real estate broker and advocate for tenant rights and fair housing policies and is the only holdover from the current WHA board. He is also the Vice President of Housing Opportunities of Northern Delaware and the Vice Chair of the Delaware Council on Housing. White is a former member of the New Castle County Board of Ethics, a former member of the Delaware Human Relations Commission and past President of the Delaware Real Estate Commission. White is a registered Democrat.
WHA Commissioners serve three-year terms. The new Commissioners will select a Chair of the body from amongst themselves. Some of the new Commissioners announced today will be slotted into board positions that are being vacated by members with unexpired terms. The WHA Board of Commissioners meets on the 4th Monday of each month at the WHA Administrative Offices on Walnut Street.
A recent U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) audit threatened a loss of agency funding, citing deficiencies in board member training, lack of knowledge about housing policy and finance, and inappropriate intervention, according to a release from the city.
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