HUD's Jackson to Step Down Amid Controversy
U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson said Monday that he will be stepping down as the nation’s chief housing officer, amid calls from Congressional Democrats for his resignation and questions of favoritism and improper consideration in awarding HUD contracts. His resignation will be effective April 18, according to a press statement. "During my time here, I have sought to make America a better place to live, work and raise a family," said Jackson. "I take great pride in working alongside some of the most dedicated civil servants in America. The hardworking people at HUD make a difference in the lives of thousands of Americans daily." Jackson made no mention of the claims that have dogged him for at least two years, saying he was leaving to "attend more diligently to personal and family matters." U.S. Senators Chris Dodd (D-CT), chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, and Patty Murray (D-WA), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, had publicly called last week for the HUD secretary's resignation, saying they did not believe that Jackson could carry out his duties effectively amid allegations of impropriety. "I hope this change in personnel will be matched by a change in policy that brings real solutions to the housing crisis that has triggered this economic recession," said Dodd in a statement on Monday. "It is essential the President immediately name an acting secretary who will have the full authority to work with us in making the decisions we need to deal with the housing finance crisis," said Rep. Barney Frank, chairman of the House Committee on Financial Services. "During the Bush Administration, and particularly the last year, HUD has fallen far short of playing the constructive role that is required." President Bush, in a statement, suggested that the claims against Jackson were unfounded. "I have known Alphonso Jackson for many years, and I have known him to be a strong leader and a good man," he said. "I have accepted his resignation with regret." Jackson, for his part, has consistently denied any wrongdoing. Nonetheless, a poor relationship with House and Senate Democrats has clearly hampered efforts by the White House to exert influence on the housing crisis within Capitol Hill. Most recently, Jackson has been targeted by officials in Philadelphia, who have said that HUD's decision to strip funding from a housing program was retaliation by the housing secretary for refusing to kick back a deal to a friend. Jackson first joined the current administration in June of 2001 as HUD's Deputy Secretary and Chief Operating Officer. He was confirmed as secretary in 2004, and is the only HUD Secretary to run a public housing agency and serve as chairman of a redevelopment authority.