After 16 years as head of Baltimore Housing, Paul Graziano is on his way out the door.
Mayor Catherine Pugh’s office announced this morning that the embattled housing commissioner will serve his last day in office on Jan. 6, 2017. Pugh is appointing Deputy Commissioner Michael Braverman to serve in his place as interim commissioner.
“Just 10 days into my administration, I am keeping one of my central pledges to the people of Baltimore, to reinvigorate both these agencies with a renewed sense of urgency in meeting the critical housing needs in Baltimore,” Mayor Pugh said in a statement.
Graziano has led Baltimore Housing since 2000. During his time in office, he weathered numerous scandals, including a now-settled lawsuit filed by public housing residents who alleged maintenance staff in Graziano’s department demanded sexual favors in exchange for repairs on their units. He also came under fire when elderly and disabled public housing residents reported they were left without heat or water for days and when his department eliminated a key inspector general position entrusted with investigating employee misconduct.
Many called for Graziano’s removal during Staphanie Rawlings-Blake’s administration, but he couldn’t be fired since he was appointed the by Housing Board of Baltimore City. The only way he could be replaced was if he resigned.
Pugh had made it clear from the start that she didn’t want Graziano to carry his checkered past into her administration. Her office’s announcement notably did not thank him for his past work as housing commissioner. Instead, it touted Braverman’s work with “forging partnerships across City and State agencies, and building relationships with community residents and leaders, private and non-profit investors, anchor institutions, and others to achieve big picture goals.”
Moving forward, Mayor Pugh has said she plans to split the city’s Housing Authority and Department of Housing and Community Development, presently run together, into separate departments with their own leadership. Her office is also launching a national search for a permanent housing commissioner.
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