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Thursday March 08, 2012

Los Angeles Housing Authority Names New CEO

By Richie Duchon, City News Service

The commission that oversees the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles selected interim President and CEO Douglas Guthrie to be the low-income public housing agency's permanent leader, it was announced Tuesday.

The board of commissioners approved Guthrie's selection during a special meeting on Monday night. The vote gave commissioners Mitchell Kamin, Dennis Hernandez and Lucelia Hooper authority to enter into contract negotiations with Guthrie.

He was appointed as the housing authority's interim CEO in December, after the previous interim head resigned in the wake of media reports that disclosed widespread dining and travel spending abuses at the agency.

Guthrie also serves as general manager of the Los Angeles Housing Department, a position he has held since 2009.

The Housing Authority oversees and places residents in about 75,000 federally subsidized affordable housing units and the city's federally funded Section 8 housing program. The Los Angeles Housing Department is funded by the city and focuses on housing code enforcement, renter and landlord complaints, and the city's rent stabilization program.

Guthrie worked in the public and private housing sectors in Chicago before coming to Los Angeles. He was the president of Kimball Hill Urban Centers, a large scale mixed-use and mixed-income housing developer. Guthrie was also the chief operating officer of the Chicago Housing Authority. He began his career working for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Fresno Housing Authority Executive Director Preston Prince was the other finalist.

"I think (Guthrie's) an excellent candidate," said Larry Gross, executive director of the Coalition for Economic Survival, which advocates for low-income renters in the city. "We believe Guthrie has done a great service to (the Housing) Department, and having him go to HACLA would be a great loss for the Housing Department and the work they're doing and a gain for the Housing Authority."

Gross said Guthrie has been fair and balanced in dealing with conflicts between landlords and tenants.

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