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HUD, Indianapolis take control of local housing agency to ‘restore public confidence’

HUD announced a partnership with the City of Indianapolis to take control of the agency after “years of dysfunction and mismanagement,” according to local media reports

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced on Wednesday that it had entered into a cooperative endeavor agreement (CEA) to take control of the Indianapolis Housing Agency (IHA) alongside the City of Indianapolis.

The move, which will effectively allow local and federal authorities to share control of the organization, is designed to “restore public confidence in and accountability over” IHA, according to HUD.

The move comes “after years of dysfunction and mismanagement at the agency responsible for providing affordable housing in Indianapolis,” according to local reporting by Indianapolis NPR and PBS affiliate WYFI, which characterized the action as a “takeover” of the agency.

Throughout the city, more than 20,000 residents utilize housing under the purview of IHA. Problems at the agency reportedly escalated in 2022 when residents of IHA-managed homes spoke out at a public meeting of the organization to share numerous complaints — including infestations, broken air conditioning units, security lapses and crime.

The issues for residents were compounded by “severe staffing shortages,” making it challenging for them to communicate with IHA leaders to air their grievances.

Last year, Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett first reached out to HUD to ask for assistance in addressing the concerns, with the mayor describing HUD as “responsive.”

HUD’s first action is to replace the IHA board with Kimberly Wize, who serves as HUD’s Indiana field office director. From there, the city will “soon appoint” a local recovery monitor, with an existing IHA interim CEO remaining aboard to assist with turnaround efforts. But HUD is making it clear that former leadership is no longer involved in critical decision-making.

“While all parties will work together, HUD retains ultimate authority over IHA’s recovery,” the announcement of the CEA stated.

This is only the beginning of the process and a lot of work will be required to get to where all parties want the IHA to be, according to Richard Monocchio, HUD’s principal deputy assistant secretary of public and Indian housing.

“Seeing the conditions and dysfunction that have negatively impacted IHA residents, and numerous operational issues hindering the agency, HUD knew it had to take strong action to correct course as soon as possible,” Monocchio said. “But our efforts will be even stronger in partnership with the City and Mayor Hogsett. We have a lot of work ahead, but we intend to deliver change for residents living in IHA communities that have already waited too long.”

The mayor is also optimistic about the difference this move could make for residents of IHA housing.

“This one-of-a-kind partnership between the City of Indianapolis and HUD acknowledges that a safe, stable, and habitable home is at the core of overall health and wellbeing,” Hogsett said in a HUD news release. “Today’s partnership ensures that IHA — a fundamental resource in providing housing to Indianapolis’ most vulnerable neighbors — will be fully functional, transparent, and accountable.”

The move was lauded by Rep. André Carson (D), who represents Indiana’s 7th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. The 7th District comprises a large portion of the city, including the downtown corridor.

“Housing is a human right. IHA serves more than 20,000 of our neighbors, and this partnership will only further strengthen our ability to provide safe, affordable, and livable housing for years to come,” Carson said. “I’ve long supported rental assistance, rehabilitating public housing, and more efforts to ensure Indianapolis’ housing needs are met. This partnership is a logical, innovative next step to repair an agency that so many rely on every day.”

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