HUD Experts To Redevelop Houston's Housing Department

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The federal government is sending a team of experts to Houston to help the city reorganize its Housing and Community Development Department.

The City of Houston's Housing and Community Development Department has long had a strained relationship with U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Houston Mayor Annise Parker says when she took office, she contacted federal HUD officials and asked for their help in overhauling the city's housing program.

"We worked very, very hard to resolve — I think there were 32 different issues that had to be fixed. This is a different situation. We've established a relationship of trust, I turned to HUD and said show us the way we need to go, help us move forward."

To that end, HUD will provide a team of experts to assess the city's needs over the next year and likely spend another two years after that creating and redeveloping Houston's housing programs.

HUD Assistant Secretary Mercedes Marquez calls the assistance a partnership, not a punishment, and says this is the first time they've provided this kind of involvement at the invitation of a mayor

"Truthfully, when you ask and you design the help together, what you get is a deeper and broader response — and so a much better one. We're involved in other cities, but I would say this is the first city where we negotiate up front the broad array of technical assistance with the exact providers that will come in as a team."

Marquez says HUD plans to make about a half million dollar investment in Houston to redevelop its housing program over the next three years.

Plans for the city include creating an equity fund to leverage private and philanthropic investments and a focus on the revitalization of specific neighborhoods.

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Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...