ORLANDO-After funneling $10 million into Sanford Housing Authority’s 25-year-old, 467-apartment complex in the last three years, the HUD has seized the properties and expects to name a receiver for the assets by Aug. 1, the federal agency confirms to GlobeSt.com.

The new manager is expected to be a HUD staffer, rental brokers following the troubled Sanford agency tell GlobeSt.com on condition of anonymity.

Martinez, a former Orange County chairman and Orlando lawyer/developer familiar with the apartment properties, directed the takeover. The properties are 25 miles north of Downtown Orlando.

The Sanford Authority has until Aug. 1 to contest the federal seizure but sources close to HUD tell GlobeSt.com that probably will not happen. HUD staffers confirm the Sanford agency receives $2.6 million annually to run the properties. About $900,000 of the $2.6 million is earmarked for capital improvements.

The agency’s annual allotment since Martinez became secretary in 2001 is $7.8 million. The agency also received a special funding of $2.2 million after Martinez was appointed by President George W. Bush. Sanford area rental brokers tell GlobeSt.com about 50% of the 467 apartments are vacant because of their dilapidated condition.

“HUD finally decided this was an unacceptable situation” to both the government and the residents, a broker tells GlobeSt.com.

But US Rep. Corrine Brown, a Democrat from Jacksonville whose district covers the Sanford apartments, blames HUD’s Troubled Agency Recovery Center for a large portion of the unlivable conditions at the units, according to staffers in Brown’s office. Brown’s office estimates the needed repairs could cost up to $14 million.

Immediately out as executive director of the Sanford Housing Authority is Audris Billbery who headed the agency for 17 months after HUD labeled the Authority a ‘troubled’ agency in April 2001. The Authority’s chairwoman Meredith H. Pickens resigned a week before HUD seized the properties. Her departure followed the resignation of accountant Russell J. Recotta Jr. who told HUD he couldn’t obtain the necessary financial records from the Authority to complete a federally mandated financial statement by June 30.

While the HUD seizure of the apartments is the latest wrinkle in the Authority’s troubled past, a federal grand jury in Orlando continues to review evidence in a two-year criminal investigation of former Authority members, according to court records.

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