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Graziano turns in “very nice” resignation

Long-time Baltimore Housing Commissioner Paul Graziano is leaving after 16 years on the job.

Graziano submitted his resignation to Mayor Catherine Pugh; who accepted it Tuesday.  The mayor said it was a “very nice letter.”

Graziano’s last day as housing commissioner will be January 6.  He will receive $116, 524; the amount of unused vacation and personal days.  Pugh said Deputy Commissioner Michael Braverman will be interim housing commissioner as she conducts a nationwide search to replace him.

Pugh promised during her campaign to show Graziano the door for a number of reasons, including a lack of vision for community development and a 2015 sex-for-repair scandal involving maintenance workers at a West Baltimore public housing complex.

“I think many of you remember the incident at Gilmor Homes,” the mayor said.  “I just think it’s time that the city goes into a different direction.”

It was the incident at Gilmor Homes that lead to loud and frequent calls for Graziano’s ouster. But former Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake resisted those calls, choosing instead to defend him.

“He is widely recognized across the country as one of the leading commissioners of a housing department,” Rawlings-Blake told The Baltimore Sun as the federal government investigated the allegations.

Graziano was appointed Housing Commissioner in 2000 by then-Mayor Martin O’Malley.  In addition to O’Malley and Rawlings-Blake, Graziano also served under Sheila Dixon.

The new direction

Currently, the Housing Authority of Baltimore City and the city Department of Housing and Community Development are one agency known as Baltimore Housing.

Pugh has said she wants to separate those agencies. She said this will ensure better focuses on the agencies and to keep the city from missing out on federal money.

“I want to see neighborhood development all across the city; where neighborhoods have the same amenities in one part of the city that they have in others,” the mayor said.

Pugh also says she wants to reduce the number of people who live in public housing and that the complexes should not be different from other housing in the city.

What has not been decided is how many people will run those agencies.

“Obviously, there’ll be two people,” Pugh said.  “I may be looking for three people; somebody to oversee both agencies.”

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