In the last few weeks, there has been much discussion about Housing Commissioner Paul Graziano and the troubled state of Baltimore’s public housing. Some residents of public housing, have been living in this troubled state for years.
Mr. Graziano enjoys the support of Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake, and some public housing residents who gave him a somewhat limited endorsement last week, but several mayoral candidates have called for Graziano to resign. There have been allegations of sexual abuse on the part of maintenance workers in the Gilmor Homes and other locations. Two union representatives in the Department were disciplined after they filed an affidavit in the lawsuit surrounding those allegations. They were later reinstated. Senior Citizens went without heat or water for several days last month at the Lakeview Towers in Reservoir Hill. And, questions arose last week about the elimination of the Inspector General’s office at the Housing Authority. Over the years, there have been lawsuits on issues ranging from lead paint to segregation, and soon after Mr. Graziano was appointed to his position by then Mayor Martin O’Malley, he was arrested at a Fells Point Bar. for a drunken, anti-gay tirade. He entered rehab, and he’s stayed on to head the housing agency for the last 15 years.
We have asked Mr. Graziano several times to be on our show, and he has, through a spokesperson, declined those invitations. But today we want to talk about Paul Graziano’s leadership of the city’s largest agency, as well as some of the bigger-picture political, racial and economic dynamics of public housing. Luke Broadwater joins me on the phone from his home in Baltimore. He wrote an excellent profile of Mr. Graziano in yesterday’s Baltimore Sun. And Ed Goetz is on the line from Paris. He’s professor of sociology at the University of Minnesota and the author of a book called New Deal Ruins: Race, Economic Justice and Public Housing Policy.