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Differences in Philospohy?
by David Stanowski
15 June 2011

GHA Chair Paula Neff said that the reason the Board forced Executive Director (ED) Harish Krishnarao to resign is because they wanted to build mixed-income developments, using a master developer, and he had a different vision for the GHA.

However, like the current Board, Krishnarao also wanted to expand the size of GHA developments far beyond what existed before Hurricane Ike, and he is on record as intending to use mixed-income communities to achieve his vision, so the reason given to force him out doesn’t make sense!

05 December 2008:
“Public housing can boost economy”

By Harish Krishnarao

“By moving forward strategically to build mixed-income neighborhoods in Galveston to house its workforce,…”

10 December 2008:
“Building new public housing may cost less”

“Building mixed-income developments helps disperse low-income residents throughout the city, Krishnarao said.”

Where is the difference in philosophy that required the change in Executive Directors?

It has always seemed clear that Krishnarao would like to build thousands of new housing units in this city, if he had the money to do so. No one ever accused him of moving too slowly in 2008, and the current delays seem to be created by the Board’s search for a master developer!

However, as the expert at the GHA on federal rules and regulations governing Public Housing, is it possible that Krishnarao was acutely aware of how blatantly the Board’s plans would violate Executive Order 11988, regarding the use of federal funds to build in a floodplain, when much better sites are available on the Mainland; CFR 941.202, Site and Neighborhood Standards, that requires rebuilding at less than 50% of the previous density on former Public Housing sites, and in their surrounding neighborhoods; and the Fair Housing Act when it comes to selecting site locations based on measures of opportunity?

GHA Board meeting minutes occasionally reflect half-hearted efforts to conform to these laws, which could have been Krishnarao’s attempts to get his Board to comply; but they don’t seem to contain any debates between the Board and the ED over mixed-income housing developments. Where did these differences in philosophy manifest themselves if not in official meetings?

Why isn’t the ED’s position on mixed-income housing contained in the minutes along with the contrasting opinion of this Board? Is it possible that key parts of GHA policy were formulated outside of Board meetings and that’s why they not part of the record? This is why the public may never know why the ED was really forced to resign.

It is highly unlikely that Krishnarao ever tried to convince the Board to build some or all of the 569 replacement units outside of the City, but he could have warned them that their plan to concentrate 1,437 mixed-income units north of Broadway on and around two former footprints would be a blatant violation of the laws cited above.

If that was the actual “difference in philosophy” between the ED and the Board, they would certainly not want that to be recorded in the minutes!

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