The longest-serving commissioner on the Charlotte Housing Authority resigned Wednesday, criticizing group leaders for being more focused on urban renewal projects than on providing greater housing opportunities for the most needy in our community.
Will Miller, 57, resigned in a scathing letter to Mayor Anthony Foxx and members of the Charlotte City Council.
In the letter, Miller said the Housing Authority spends more time on buildings, regulations and staffing problems than helping the poor.
The CHA has become an organization perpetually distracted by personnel issues, project mismanagement and lawsuits, Miller wrote.
In an email following Millers resignation, the Housing Authority defended its record.
In the past 20 years, the authority has increased affordable housing opportunities from 6,700 units to more than 11,000, according to a release sent by Deborah Clark, the Housing Authoritys spokeswoman.
Housing Authority leaders also pointed to a recent study that detailed extensive improvements in its Housing Choice Voucher Program (also known as the Section 8 Program) and Public Housing Program.
Board members called for the study last year after a former employee leaked a 2008 report that found extensive bookkeeping flaws in its Housing Choice Voucher Program.
Meanwhile, the housing authority is fighting decreasing funds, leaders said. Because of the federal governments mandatory budget cuts, the funding for the authoritys voucher program dropped by $2.1 million while funding for the Public Housing Program dropped by more than $371,000.
We are being funded at historically low levels that make maintaining and producing affordable housing opportunities even more challenging, said authority chairwoman Geraldine Sumter in the release.
According to the housing authority, 75 percent of new admissions to CHAs programs earn 30 percent or less of the areas median income. That equates to $19,550 a year for a family of four.
Miller said he doubts that number.
I asked for that number for the last six months from our staff, and they havent been able to produce that number, Miller told the Observer.
Miller, who was acting executive director of the Charlotte host committee for the Democratic National Convention, said answers to Charlottes homeless problem include more than buildings and urban development.
He said programs such as Charlotte Family Housing do a great job housing extremely low-income residents using available buildings and rental assistance.
But the authoritys experience and leadership has declined in recent years, he said.
Miller said the Housing Authoritys commission and staff had people with private sector experience when he joined in 2006. Many of those commission members and employees, including roughly 10 senior-level administrators, have since left.
The reason Im leaving and the reason Im frustrated is because I wanted to spend my time and energy helping the community serve more of the homeless population, Miller said. And we failed.