Posted: 10:10 am Wednesday, May 7th, 2014
By Eliot Kleinberg
West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio Wednesday announced she’d fired Community Redevelopment Associates of Florida, the outside firm the city hired to rebuild its housing program after years of city foul-ups in its efforts to provide low-income families with safe, decent housing.
Muoio decided to end the contract with the firm, effective June 1, she said at Wednesday’s weekly press briefing.
She said that “we’ve been watching this for a while” but that recent inquiries from The Palm Beach Post were “the tipping point.”
Post reporter Pat Beall sought interviews and sent questions to the city last month about the company’s efforts to meet an Oct. 31 deadline for spending federal dollars. Documents showed that a homeowner signed after the deadline but the company told The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development that the signature was secured in time.
Muoio said that, when she became mayor in 2011, “straightening out the housing program was one of my most pressing issues.”
The city hired Community Redevelopment Associates of Florida in 2012. The firm is unrelated, except by moniker, to either the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency or Redevelopment Management Associates, the private Broward County firm it hired in December to manager the CRA.
At a work session in October, Muoio and commissioners had several testy exchanges with Community Redevelopment Associates over its progress. Muoio said Wednesday the city began asking tough questions even then and set out a remediation plan.
But, she said, “What I learned from (the Post) and from reviewing the documents is that there was a lot of last minute running around. And when there’s last minute running around, mistakes are made.”
She said none of the mistakes constituted crimes and the city lost no money.