NOAAH News/Commentary: Annapolis

Annapolis, Maryland

When it was on the verge of being taken over by HUD due to decades of poor management, the Housing Authority of the City of Annapolis (HACA) hired a retired housing attorney from nearby Washington, DC, to serve as its executive director. She quickly got the organization under control, lured Melissa Maddox-Evans away from the Charleston, South Carolina, housing authority, and then returned to her well-earned retirement just a few years ago. The HACA board of commissioners entrusted Maddox-Evans with the responsibility of continuing the righting of the ship.

Annapolis is a thriving and influential city that has experienced rapid population growth. Today, about 60% of Annapolis roughly 40,000 residents are white. While white families have a median annual income of over $91,000, Black families have a much lower median annual income of only $43,000. The majority of city public housing residents are Black, and they are primarily blue-collar workers and veterans.

In a city with a weak-mayor model of governance, the City Attorney, the Police Union, and the law enforcement agencies appear to wield the most influence. In fact, according to city law, the Annapolis Police Department and the city Office of Law can block major building projects, including HACA’s redevelopment projects.

The FBI estimates that there are 2.4 police officers for every 1,000 Americans. However, Annapolis has a peculiar ordinance that mandates 3.2 officers for every 1,000 citizens. According to recent news articles, the city has not maintained the additional police force. HACA is in the process of renovating one large public housing community and plans to issue RFPs for two more in the coming weeks. Major construction projects in Annapolis will no longer be issued permits, as announced by the Police Department and City Attorney. Each group has cited a local law to back up its actions.

Despite citizen’s pleas, media criticism, and some politicians pounding on tables, the law enforcement agencies are imposing a “de facto demolition” policy on HACA and other affordable housing developers. This evolving story requires our ongoing attention.

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