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 PHILADELPHIA, Oct. 1 /PRNewswire/ -- The Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA) enters a new era of revitalization for thousands of public housing tenants as John F. White Jr. officially assumes the executive director position today.
 White, a 44-year-old Philadelphia native and the former secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare, comes to the job from the private investment firm of Kidder, Peabody & Company where he was vice president of public finance. He will be responsible for day-to-day operations of the PHA, which employs approximately 1,700 people and provides housing to more than 80,000 residents.
 Eager to begin the process of transforming Pennsylvania's largest public housing authority into what many hope will become the "model public housing authority in the nation," White has been promised unprecedented support from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the authority's board of commissioners and the authority's resident leadership.
 "I believe quite frankly that in order to move the Philadelphia Housing Authority into the direction that we ought to be moving -- to meet our mandate which is to provide safe and decent living environments to Philadelphia's low-income people, it will take a very courageous and skillful team of people from various walks of life, both from the professional side, in terms of leadership here at the authority, as well as at the community level," he continued. "Most important, it's going to require some solid leadership and commitment on the part of our resident leaders."
 Recognizing the vast potential of many of the authority's 1,700 employees in the operations of a public housing authority, White said he is committed to exploring their ideas and providing opportunity for input.
 "There is no doubt that there are people in key positions here at the authority who have a lot to offer," he said. "I have an obligation to explore that notion to be sure we are getting their ideas."
 Working closely with HUD and with the newly reorganized board of commissioners chaired by Mayor Edward Rendell, White is confident that over the next several months, the authority will make significant changes resulting in improved living conditions to its residents. White explained that individual responsibility and committed leadership will assure the success of the 24-month improvement plan now being developed in concert with PHA board of commissioners, management and its resident leadership.
 "I look to move the issue of leadership at the authority beyond what is written on paper," White noted. "The future success of the Philadelphia Housing Authority hinges upon, among other things, values and individual responsibility, where each individual takes it upon him or herself to do their part to insure that public housing is everything it ought to be."
 White brings a wealth of political, administrative and organizing experience to the formidable task of heading the nation's fourth largest public housing authority.
 From 1987 to 1991, White served as the chief executive for the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare, the state's largest agency, having 29,000 employees and an annual budget of $8 billion.
 Prior to his selection by Pennsylvania Gov. Robert P. Casey to head DPW, White was a member of the Philadelphia City Council, representing the 9th councilmatic district, from 1981 to 1987. While a member of City Council, White served on the Appropriations Committee and was influential in upgrading the city's Department of Human Services as well as intensifying foster care placements.
 In 1976, White was the first African American to represent the 200th district in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. While serving as a state representative, White sponsored several pieces of legislation addressing juvenile justice, prison reform, social welfare and energy issues. White was elected chairman of the Philadelphia delegation to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.
 White began working in human services as a community organizer with the Philadelphia Urban League's child advocacy project. From 1972 to 1976, White also served as a board member of "Network," an organization that monitored and intervened in disputes among neighborhood gangs.
 Looking forward to working with White and the task of improving conditions at the authority's 43 developments and 7,400 scattered housing sites, Nellie Reynolds, the president of the public housing resident advisory board and a former member of the PHA board of commissioners, said that White represents the type of leadership PHA residents have long sought.
 "John White appears to be very receptive to the ideas and needs of the residents of PHA," Reynolds explained. "He's been meeting regularly with residents to hear their concerns, learn more about them and how to get them more involved. It's the first time an executive director has ever met with us before the fact, and that's refreshing."
 White is married with three children and lives in the Wynnefield section of Philadelphia.
 -0- 10/1/93
 /CONTACT: Wayne Browne, director of public information, of the Philadelphia Housing Authority, 215-684-4115/

CO: Philadelphia Housing Authority ST: Pennsylvania IN: SU: PER

MJ-MK -- PH011 -- 7744 10/01/93 11:16 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Oct 1, 1993

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