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Calexico rejects HUD requirements

January 25, 2002|By AARON CLAVERIE, Staff Writer

CALEXICO — The Calexico Housing Authority board of commissioners rejected a long list of specific and time-sensitive improvements required by U.S. Housing and Urban Development officials.

What happens next is anyone's guess.

The authority's attorney, Eduardo Rivera, didn't give the board any advice.

At one point during Thursday's meeting, board Chairman Jesus "Chuy" Solano asked, "What are the wishes of the board?"

Silence.

The board ended up taking no official action on the list of improvements, even though the authority has already complied with some of the items on the list.

The list is called an "improvement plan." It specifies a number of steps the authority must take to clean up the management and procedural problems that have hampered the authority for years.

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Provisos in the plan allow HUD to freeze Calexico's federal housing funds if certain directions are not followed. One of the directions requires the current board to remove itself.

That proviso doesn't sit well with the current board.

Most of the improvements in the rejected plan are supposed to be enacted by late February.

That time frame was shortened by HUD officials from the Memphis, Tenn.-based HUD Troubled Agency Recovery Center. Initially, the Housing Authority and Mayor Victor Carrillo signed a one-year improvement plan that is almost identical to the plan rejected Thursday night.

HUD officials in Washington, D.C., and recovery center officials in Memphis did not sign off on the one-year plan, however. Before an improvement plan can be implemented all four parties need to sign the document.

The timing and the reasoning behind HUD's actions have been hotly questioned by Calexico officials.

Late last year, recovery center officials asked the Calexico City Council to remove the board of commissioners.

Those officials might have thought it was a done deal but the council decided to keep the board. The council said it would revisit the board's status in 90 days from the late October meeting.

After the council's action, HUD officials did not sign the original one-year improvement plan even though the Housing Authority and the mayor had signed it.

HUD officials sent the Housing Authority board a revised improvement plan that shortened the time frame to 90 days, to coincide with the council's time frame.

The City Council asked HUD officials during Tuesday's council meeting to stick with the original one-year agreement.

At the start of Thursday's authority meeting, the board heard a tale of woe from a woman who said she has been harassed by her neighbors.

The board gave direction to administration to allow the woman to break her lease and get returned her $250 deposit.

>> Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419 or claverie7@hotmail.com

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