For Immediate Release
Press Contact: Mary Kay Clunies-Ross, City Manager's Office, (510) 981-7008

HOUSING DIRECTOR RESIGNS
Problems at the Berkeley Housing Authority lead to resignation of Housing Director Stephen Barton

Berkeley, California (Wednesday, June 06, 2007) - Berkeley Housing Director Stephen Barton resigned yesterday in response to ongoing problems at the Berkeley Housing Authority (BHA).

“We are taking the problems at the Berkeley Housing Authority very seriously and we’re holding people accountable for those problems—including ourselves,” said City Manager Phil Kamlarz. “The governance structure has changed, the entire staff is changing and management is taking responsibility for failing to serve the public as well as we should have.”

Deputy City Manager Lisa Caronna will manage the Housing Department and the City Manager is working directly with HUD to ensure continuity of services for residents. In addition, several members of the City Manager’s staff will be providing administrative and logistical support to the BHA during the transition.

Background

The Housing Authority owns 75 units of housing and provides Section 8 vouchers to approximately 1,800 Berkeley families. The BHA has been in troubled status with HUD since 2002, and aggressive measures have been taken since that time to correct the problems and restore Berkeley to good standing.

The Council has expressed its intent to keep the BHA in Berkeley instead of allowing an outside agency such as Alameda County to take over services for Berkeley residents. In line with that goal, on May 22, the Council created an independent BHA Board, released staff from their duties, and budgeted almost a million dollars in “seed money” to get the new agency underway. A consulting firm has been hired to help restructure and re-staff the Authority.

The current Housing Authority Board consists of the members of the city council and two resident members. The new BHA Board, consisting of six members appointed by the mayor, is scheduled to be confirmed on Tuesday, June 12 and to take office on July 1, 2007.

The internal review of records will continue, and the City is working with HUD’s Office of the Inspector General to review the files and ascribe responsibility to anyone who may have illegally benefited from the program.

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