Just eight months after being brought in to help clean up the embattled DuPage Housing Authority, David Hoicka has been fired from his job as executive director.
Housing authority board Chairman Thomas Good announced the change in leadership on Wednesday morning. He said Hoicka was let go a day earlier "without cause" by the board.
"It's disappointing that a change in direction was necessary," said Good, adding that the board chose to exercise the "no-cause" termination provision in Hoicka's contract.
In a written statement, the housing board said: "The board of commissioners appreciates the work Mr. Hoicka accomplished with the housing authority and the strides that were made during his management of the agency."
Hoicka's termination came about two weeks after board members received an unsigned letter that was highly critical of Hoicka's management style. The sender of the letter claimed that it was written by housing authority staff members.
Good said the letter wasn't a factor in the board's decision. "The board does not react to anonymous letters," he said.
Attempts to contact Hoicka on Wednesday were unsuccessful. No one answered the door at his Wheaton home.
Hoicka, who had served in senior management for housing agencies in Texas, Louisiana, and Hawaii, was hired in January as part of ongoing efforts to overhaul the Wheaton-based agency that once mismanaged more than $10 million in federal funding.
He replaced John Day, who was forced to resign last year after the U.S. Office of Inspector General released two audits critical of the agency. A third audit concluded the agency improperly spent more than $5.8 million in federal money and failed to adequately document another $4.7 million.
Hoicka took the reins of the agency after the board conducted a nationwide search for an executive director. At the time he was hired, officials said Hoicka's background made him an ideal choice.
In addition to publishing three handbooks on HUD housing programs, Hoicka served as an adviser for public housing groups in Southeast Asia and Bahrain in the Persian Gulf.
"We wouldn't have hired him if we didn't have faith in him," Good said.
Hoicka will get three months of severance pay and health insurance benefits. His annual salary was $125,000 a year.
Housing authority officials have been working with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to clear up the administrative issues that resulted in the audit findings.
DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin replaced every member of the housing board after the release of the third audit. The revamped housing board has since implemented a variety of reforms, including the adoption of a new ethics ordinance, travel policy and purchasing policy.
Good said he made federal housing officials aware of the change in leadership.
"I have assured them there will be no disruption in the efforts we are working on," he said.
The housing board is planning to hire a firm to conduct a nationwide search for Hoicka's replacement. Good said officials want the process "to go more quickly" than the previous search.
"We're doing well with HUD, and we don't want it to take six months or longer to come up with a new executive director," Good said.
In the meantime, a current housing authority employee, Deb Darzinskis, will serve as interim executive director. She was hired in June to be a project administration specialist after spending 14 years with Catholic Charities Diocese of Joliet.
"She's highly thought of," Good said of Darzinskis. "She has a wealth of experience from the charitable work."