Christopher Swope was GOVERNING's executive editor.E-mail: email@example.com
Mel Martinez left the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development in December to run for an open U.S. Senate seat in Florida. Governing reported in December 2002 ["HUD the Unlovable"] that local housing authorities have suffered over the years as politically ambitious HUD secretaries pushed ever-changing housing agendas.
Martinez--a former chief executive of Orange County, Florida--struck a lower profile than his predecessor, Andrew Cuomo, and was credited for continuing HUD's slow march to respectable management. But local officials found him a weak advocate for low-income housing programs. He tried to kill the well-known Hope VI program for redeveloping derelict housing projects; Congress resurrected it over his objections.
Increasing homeownership among minorities was Martinez's biggest goal, but even the slight progress there was due more to low interest rates than HUD's actions. "He frequently equated 'housing' with 'homeownership,'" says Conrad Egan, president of the National Housing Conference. "We would've hoped for more emphasis on the rental side."
Martinez's deputy at HUD, Alphonso Jackson, has been tapped as his replacement. Jackson has headed up the housing authorities in Dallas, Washington, D.C., and St. Louis.
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