The Prince George's County housing department is about to get a long-overdue makeover.
According to a published report, the department which was the focus of former County Executive Jack B. Johnson's long-running pay-to-play scheme, will receive assistance from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in the county's efforts improve its management of housing programs and other community revitalization projects.
Governance of Prince George's -- which has had the distinction of being one of the most affluent black enclaves in the country -- came under scrutiny in the wake of Johnson's arrest more than a year ago. Under Johnson's administration, the housing department was cited for questionable practices and poor management. The agency, which currently has a $92 million operating budget, eventually loss some $2 million in unspent federal funding due to those and other concerns that have included lack of leadership and training for staff members.
County Executive Rushern Baker, who sought help from federal officials, is expected to sign an agreement this week with HUD that will help put the housing department back on track.
Mercedes M. Marquez, HUD's assistant secretary for community development, said in an interview that Baker sought her out for federal assistance.
"He came to my office, essentially saying, 'This is now on my watch, and I want to be a model for the country' and put the county's history behind it," Marquez was quoted as saying.